Have you ever dreamt about having your own brand? Are you curious how other people make this dream a reality? What it’s like to actually be a fashion designer? Is it difficult to start? I was also curious to know the answers to these questions, that is why I decided to talk to Belkiz Serim – the owner and creative director of Belbacio.

VR: First, I would like you to tell me something about your brand and why you chose the name Belbacio?
be a fashion designer belbacio belkiz serim

      Belbacio’s latest collection

Belkiz: My brand is called Belbacio, pronounced in Italian. My name is Belkiz in Turkish, and ‘bacio’ means ‘kiss’ in Italian. That is why some of my Italian friends started calling me Belbacio and that’s how the name for my brand was created. It is a young brand, established 4 years ago in 2014.

VR: What’s the message of your brand and who is are the clothes for?

B: My brand represents the new style of vintage retro. It is a bridge from East to West, not in a classical way, but it’s a new form of inspiration between East and West. It’s for avantguard people. I have some clients from Italy and Turkey, who do not want to dress in a normal way, but in a more artistic one.

VR: Any particular age of your clients or is it just this attitude?

B: My clients are mostly women at the age between 20 and 50/55 years old. I also have some requests from China, from Shanghai and I will prepare some of my clothes to send and show there.

be a fashion designer belbacio belkiz serim

                  Belkiz Serim

VR: Wow, it sounds really cool. What fascinates me the most is why did you decide to have a brand? I know many people dream about it, but how did you actually do it? What made you take the decision ‘yes, I do it’ and why did you really decide to make it?

B: It was a very difficult step for me. I decided to have my own brand when I realized I had my own style and that after long years my designs were unique and different. Actually, I didn’t start with a brand. At first, I had a desire, like a child, to show off. When you have a child, you want to show it to al your family and to all the world. My brand is like my child. I finally had my own style and I wanted to share it with people. I also have my artistic way of expression, because I make collage on canvas. My new project is to draw my designs on canvas too.

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               Belkiz’s collage

VR: Did you study design or art?

B: I studied design in various schools. First I finished the Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul at Marmara University and then I moved to Milan in 2007, where I went to a private school called Istituto Secoli to study sartorial pattern making and fashion design.

VR: Do you think that those schools and your artistic background helped you with launching your brand? The knowledge that you got at school – was it helpful or were you using more the external, life experiences?

B: Actually, the aim of the school in Turkey, which is the Fine Arts Academy, is to create artists. I felt myself like an artist. The professors teach the students to become artists first, then the fashion designers. But when I moved to Milan, which is the real city of fashion design and one of the fashion capitals of the world, and when I started studying pattern making, I became a fashion designer, I started feeling like one.  So eventually, the two schools helped me create myself and create my artistic path: in an artistic way and in a technical way.

be a fashion designer belbacio belkiz serimVR: How did you start your brand? Did you do your first collection and show it to someone or did you start by collaborating with someone? How did it all start actually?

B: First I collaborated with the textile suppliers and pattern makers, who are very, very professional. When I was working on my first collection, I created a small team of 4 people. I was the creative director. Then I launched my collection – I made a presentation in W Lounge Hotel in Istanbul with a group of designers. I sold some of my clothes to clients in Turkey and to a few shops in Istanbul and Ankara.

VR: Originally, you come from Turkey, right?

B: Yes. I’m originally from Ankara in Turkey, but as I became adult, I moved to Istanbul. I lived there before coming to Milan last year. I decided to live here, because I hope to show my next collections during the Milan Fashion Week nest year. Hopefully.

be a fashion designer belbacio belkiz serimVR: Do you think it’s difficult for a small brand which is just starting to get noticed, to enter Fashion Week, to get clients, to sell your clothes to boutiques?

B: Yes, it’s difficult for every brand. I mean, even Gucci and Armani have difficulties. Nowadays it’s much more difficult than before, before there are too many designers around the world. New designers have to have good, strong strategies to be successful. They must make good contacts with boutiques. Any designer from any school will tell you that. If you can’t make a good plan, it will be even more difficult to become successful.

VR: I read that you travel a lot, not only between Italy and Turkey. Where else do you travel?

B: I was a tourist guide for many years, because I worked for a travel agency. I visited France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, US, Canada, Switzerland, Poland. I didn’t visit London, but I traveled a lot to most of the European countries.

be a fashion designer belbacio belkiz serimVR: Do you think those travels helped you develop your unique style? That this is some kind of what makes your brand different?

B: Yes, these journeys made me very good, in fact. I experienced so much. When I travel to different countries, I talk to local people, take pictures of local things and try to understand the culture, the way of dressing. Yes, it helped me so much to create my unique style. I traveled both for myself and for job. When I work, I also work for myself, e.g. I take photos. But mostly I am impressed with the Italian culture: I studied Italian literature – renaissance mostly – and it impressed me so much.

VR: What else inspires you? I read you say it’s avant-garde and vintage style, but do you have any particular artist or do you also get inspired from outside of these styles? Who’s your biggest inspiration?

B: As an artist, my inspiration is Picasso, who inspired me especially in my collage, and also Dali. I am inspired mostly by surrealist painters, surrealist artists. I am also inspired from expressionism. I think my style is a combination of surrealism, expressionism and eclectism. These three main art streams. As a fashion designer, at a young age, I was inspired by John Gagliano – but not actually by his designs, but the avant-garde style. Then by Jean Paul Gautier and Vivienne Westwood.  Three of them are inspiring me. Especially when I was younger, but they still influence me a lot. Especially that they are older than me and they are still designing.

be a fashion designer belbacio belkiz serimVR: What are your plans for the future? Except trying to enter the Milan Fashion Week? What’s your bigger plan? Bigger picture?

B: My plan is to be known as a fashion designer, but the most important thing is to create a satisfying, international business. If it doesn’t kill me (laugh), I’m planning to sell my clothes all around the world. If somebody is recording it somewhere, if God is listening, I’d like to open my own shop in every big, fashion capital city. It’s just a desire. If it doesn’t happen, it’s also ok.

VR: I cross my fingers for that. Where do you sell your clothes? For the moment in Italy, Turkey, now you said China, any other countries?

B: Right now in Turkey and in Italy. I have some contacts there. I was also invited to Paris Premiere Vision, so maybe next year I’ll go to show my collection in Paris.

be a fashion designer belbacio belkiz serimVR: Where can we buy your clothes? Some website? Do you have an actual shop?

B: Right now, I have a team of graphic designers working on my website, which is still under construction. I have a huge plan for it and I’ll launch it by the end of this year. For the moment, people can find my clothes on my Facebook page.

VR: Thank you so much for this conversation! It was great to hear your story.

B: Thank you.


What do you think? Do you agree with Belkiz or you have different experiences? Would you like to ask her any other questions? Let me know in the comments!

©All pictures courtesy of Belkiz Serim.