The history of the hijab clothing fashion doesn’t go long way back; the beginning of the ‘80s when women have desired to have hijab clothing with style. Those were the same years that Mehmet Çelikten had noticed the women’s struggle in finding proper outfits and the need in this sector. He had tried to fill the space that he had noticed byfounding the ‘Setrms’ brand. Çelikten has had a successful professional life. We have talked about his success and the hijab clothing fashion with him, whom has many pleasant stories to tell.

How did you get the idea to interchange between women’s fashion and men’s tailoring?
I started to work in this business in 1964 and since then I had only worked as a men’s tailor. Moreover, I have tailored suits for many prestigious politicians such as Necmettin Erbakan, the deceased, in the following years. There weren’t many alternative models in the men’s fashion during those times. In order to give me an order one could just tell me to tailor a suit for him and let me know its color; that was enough. I first began to tailor women’s clothing by a special order for a coat in the 1980s.

Was it admired?
Yes, it was a success. Many orders have followed that. I have tailored a coat even for Nermin Erbakan, the deceased. However, there was a different reason for me to start working as a women’s tailor in real terms. During those years, my wife and the women around her had inclined towards hijab clothing but their options were limited.

Is this how the hijab clothing started to become a fashion in Turkey?
I could say so for us. There were a few hijab clothing brands before us but their product scale was not wide. The topcoat and outfits that I made for my wife drew attention. My son graduated from school and wanted to help me with my business to carry on his father’s profession in those years. We decided to grow the business because the number of orders for women’s clothing was growing.

Where was your first store located?
We opened our first store at Suluhan, in Ulus, Ankara, after increasing the number of machines. We purchased fabrics as wholesale and selected the favored models to start a serial production. Thus, we materialized our brand name Setrems; actually, it was Setre at first.

Why Setre?
The origin of the name Setre comes from ‘being covered.’ We have used it as a manufacturer for long years but after merging to professional retailing, the name became ‘Setrms.’

What do you owe the fast speed of your growth during this progress?
We have never compromised on quality of fabric and stitching; kept our diligence as we did on the first day. We were always open to new models and fresh ideas. Our customers like this approach. Another reason is that the importance of advertising to us since the first day. Our ads used to take place in advertorial pages of the newspapers, even on those days. People from different parts of Anatolia used toc ome to our stores to purchase clothing with our ad cut out from a newspaper.

Do you design the models?
Sometimes, but mostly my son does. Moreover, even if I tell him, ‘This won’t sell,’ he doesn’t listen to me and fortunately he doesn’t because our each product design is liked very much. Naturally, we have hired professional designers, too but we did the most of the job during our first years.

When did you start merging to retailing?
Our first retail store was opened in Kızılay, Ankara in 2003. Our first store out of Ankara was opened in Malatya. Since then, we have stores in 16 cities and numerous selling points.

In your opinion, is it hard to be the address of fashion in Ankara?
İstanbul is the leader in fashion and crafts, no doubt, because it is situated on the European side. However, I can tell that the most quality products of Turkey in women’s clothing are manufactured in Ankara.

Could we say that the hijab clothing fashion was born in Turkey by means of you?
We have been acting brave about the new models and fashion. We have produced stubbornly even the designs that we have thought they wouldn’t sell good. The risky designs that we had done ten years ago, have now being produced by other brands after ten years. I think, because of the diversity of your designs some circles are criticizing you. We have come up against those comments exceedingly. Many, especially some columnists have announced us as nonbelievers but they are wrong. Our designs are not against our women’s covering themselves. As long as they choose the models that suit them and do not highlight their body features, they are going to be within the limits of covering.

How is the interest in the hijab clothing from abroad?
We have been exporting to 30 countries as of this moment. They are following the hijab clothing fashion through Turkey. There is serious demand for our products from other countries especially from Europe and Arab countries.

Which country you sell the most?
We have true potential in Germany, and in Holland among the European countries and in Erbil region of Iraq, and in Libya among the Arab countries. In addition, the Arab tourists show high interest in our products sold at Fatih, İstanbul and at Gaziantep stores.