EREN GENCLER | Global Communications Coordinator
Part of the Clothes Are Just Clothes photo series, this is a conversation with THE KIT. Founder and Creative Director Daniel Vosovic and friend, exploring the relationship between fashion and self.
Photographed by Timothy Mulcare
Daniel: Eren, so I got to know you because you worked in fashion alongside me, always adorable, daily bringing a great sense of style… what first interested you in fashion? Eren: My mother. She was just obsessed with beauty, fashion, VOGUE in particular. She's a collector, our house had stacks of VOGUE magazines. I mean, it sounds really cliché, but it's really true. My mom and my grandma passed on this love for how feeling beautiful and powerful can almost change your personality. So I think I started playing around with fashion myself in high school with secondhand vintage clothing after watching my mom and my grandma. D: I can see that. I can sense that you’re a big fan of vintage and the thrill of the hunt. E: Yeah, it was an experience. We would go with our girlfriends, hunt the racks in Amsterdam and find that special shirt that no one else had. Everyone else was shopping at H&M and Zara. D: Of course because it was so huge back then, especially in Europe. So to confirm, where did you grow up and when? E: Amsterdam and California. D: When did you move to California? E: When I was 6.
D: I was having a conversation with a friend earlier about how the female body is very much aligned, perception-wise, to where you're living. We even know the difference in America. For example, in New York, 10 years ago the ideal was to be skinny, where in California, it was to look healthy and fit, Houston was another ideal and so on. Then you go to a different country and that ideal is different yet again. Whether it’s a focus on a particular body part or grooming technique, all these different things, it’s pretty insane to think about manipulating one’s body based on a trend. Because you come from an international family that has lived in different locations is that something you've thought about? Or would you say you are influenced by “American standards” because that’s where you are currently living?
E: So in California I was young, about 6 to 12.
D: That's a pretty impressionable age.
E: I vividly remember that it was all about having straight hair. So, in Europe it's really about being more natural and embracing your natural features like curly hair, or black hair as well. In California it was very much about having straight blonde hair, very Abercrombie, that was the uniform. And of course being skinny. Americans grow up way faster than Europeans in that regard, so I grew up very fast in California, I developed early and then I went back to Amsterdam as this California girl. Straight hair, cleavage, preppy. It was crazy, I was standing out so much.
D: You probably seemed to be like mini adult!
E: Oh yeah, because girls in California are having sex at like 13. Well I came back quite hyper-sexualized. So I was in class with my international classmates and there was just a clear divide between the kids who grew up in America and the kids who grew up in Europe. I mean, the kids who grew up in Europe were still playing with Barbies and thought that it was just insane of me to be texting boys. So I really thought that was who I was for awhile. This California girl with tight everything, it’s just so not who I am now. Like I hate the thought of showing cleavage now so so much, it makes me very uncomfortable to be honest.
D: Because it's just not who you are now?
E: Yeah, now I'm all about comfy t-shirts! When I was working in fashion I would wear a t-shirt every day. The thought of wearing anything tight, even a dress, sometimes it brings more negative attention than positive for me.
D: Having spent part of your upbringing in Europe, is unwanted negative attention towards women something you find prevalent regardless of what country you’re in?
E: Yeah. In America, I notice that people don't say anything. At least in California, but I mean I was 6-12 years old. But when I got back to Amsterdam I noticed that people really look at you. Because in America, most people don't like to make eye contact, at least younger kids my age in California, we'd meet up sometimes and I'd notice they wouldn't make eye contact with me. It's weird. Kids have a real issue with eye contact and I have the same issue. They look anywhere else but your face, it's so strange. So I'm so sorry if I just went completely off topic!
D: Well because we were talking about how this particular story we’re shooting is obviously about how “clothes are just clothes” and as a designer I find it interesting that clothes are still just fabric and design choices, but they can enhance, not necessarily dictate, but enhance what is already within you. So as someone who I've perceived to have a strong sense of self, I'm wondering if there are pieces, such as the boots you're wearing, that do that to you, and why those pieces?
E: I mean it's a tough question just because it's not necessarily something I think of consciously.
D: Exactly, which is a complicated thing as a designer. For example, you can't say 'I'm looking to make a confident boot’ as it’s really such a personal feeling.
E: Well first I just love the style so that's like the shallow part. I guess it's just the way they make me feel powerful, tall, sexy, but also classy and like the woman that I want to be. That sounds so lame.
D: Are you kidding, we all we all dress like that like whether we admit it or not! I find this whole thing fascinating. When I was living in Europe I remember buying stuff that I loved at the time and then years later I felt like such an idiot for wearing certain pieces. Is there something of yours that you loved but you now think 'how did I ever like that'?
E: It was this bright blue Montclair winter coat that I got. It's shiny, it really stands out and it's just so not who I am now stylistically: it’s flashy, in your face, it’s bright and not me. But I loved it, I was young and I was like 'woohoo I'm gonna show this off!'. All the kids were wearing it.
D: I used to wear so much color and pattern but I’ve chosen this “uniform” of black, navy, white, grey as a simplified way to get ready in the morning and keep the focus on my designing. That being said however, color and pattern do something to your behavior… they can make you smile, or laugh, and I find it funny that both of us have taken a more utilitarian approach to our personal style, and if that’s a good thing! Are we missing out on something?
E: I don’t know! It’s something I think about every time I go shopping but I always end up getting a new version of that white t-shirt!
D: Whatever. I have no shame haha!