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Gonca Gul: Freedom In Fashion

NEW YORK, NY -- Despite never having formal education as an apparel designer, over 12 years of experience as a noted and respected wardrobe stylist prepared Gonca Gul well for creating her collections.

Working on the principle that numbers and sizes are far less important than drape, cut, and fabric, Gul (as seen in Photo 1) has spent the last six years perfecting the beautiful, simple clothing she creates to allow for flattering fit, ease of movement, and absolute comfort.

This passion has produced the glamorous Gonca Style dress collection, the relaxed Gypsy Resort wear line, and the simplicity and utility of Leila Yoga. Her latest endeavor is a completely new approach to dance and movement-wear, Ula Sport (as seen in Photos 2, 3, and 4).

Born to Turkish parents in Cologne, Germany, Gul now calls a few places around the world her “home.” Currently splitting her time between New York, Bali, and Costa Rica, Gul continues to draw inspiration from the places she loves and the people she meets.

thalo: What inspires you to create your collections?
Gonca Gul:
My travels. When I travel to Asia or to the Middle East or to Africa, I get to see people wearing their traditional clothing and it just works. It has worked for centuries and it still does. It is all about being comfortable. Thankfully, for me, being eclectic is in fashion and I can play with modern fabrics and re-create the comfortable ancient wear in a fashionable, comfortable way. Also, my boutique is in the jungle of Costa Rica, in Nosara. I get to meet amazing people during the season. The colors, the animals, the extreme seasons of wind, rain, dryness—all of it inspires everything I do.

th: What inspires you, as an artist?
I am creating the space I want to live in. I see myself as a citizen of the world. It can be a color, a tree, or a vase I have found at a stoop sale which inspires me to be creative. This includes clothing, but also furniture, paintings, or whatever project I am working on. It has to interest me and drive me to finish; only then am I committed to a project. 

th: How do you decide on a theme for a collection?
I do whatever I want. I don't follow fashion any more. I go by my feelings and by the people who I meet and the support and feedback I get from them. 

th: What did you learn as a stylist that you can apply as a designer? 
No matter what size you are or what age you are, it's all about the draping of the fabric on your body.

th: What’s the thing that no one told you—but you wish they had—about your career?
You have to have your own opinion. Many people tell me many things which I don't always agree with. I always want to do the right thing for my life. At the end of the day, I must be happy with what I do and only then can I make other people happy. 

th: What designers or other artists have most directly inspired you and why?
Believe it or not, after 16 years as a stylist, I've never had a favorite designer. I like the individual mind. I walk around in Manhattan and the bag ladies of New York City inspire me much more than the glossy fashion spreads of the designers. When somebody goes with their own feeling, no matter what and where this person comes from, that's fashion for me. The most inspiring people are the nomads in the desert, the gypsies, the mountain people of Turkey or Peru or Tibet. I am all about layering pieces and not being afraid that they will not match 100%. I myself look, most of the time, like a bag lady or a gypsy or a mountain person from Turkey. As far as artists who have inspired me in the past, I would say Erykah Badu is very much my style and my icon. 

th: What’s the weirdest thing in your day to day life?
I have my inventory room for my collection right next door to the kitchen in my Brooklyn apartment. I am not afraid to stay small! It's nice like that. If Ula Sport never gets huge, that's fine by me because I have already reached my goal by creating it.

th: What is one of your greatest challenges?
With so much available on the market for so cheap, getting people interested in good quality products is one of the most challenging things, especially if they are a little bit different than regular styles. 

th: What’s next for you?
I am going back to my jungle store in Costa Rica for the winter. I would like more people in the dance/yoga field to discover my Ula Sport collection and experience a garment that is continuously beautiful and organic in movement.


Photos Courtesy Of Gonca Gul