Brand Stories – Inspired by Nature: Máh-roc

Marka Hikayeleri – Doğadan İlhamla: Máh-roc - vitruta

Máh-roc is a brand founded with the mission of creating sustainable fashion awareness, and designs its bags with waste fabrics collected from around the world. We came together with Bediz Yıldırım and brand founder Roksan Sarfati to hear the story of this environmentally friendly brand.

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Bediz: In this period we live in, we started to talk about many issues such as sustainability, slow fashion, ethical production, but you started talking about these concepts much earlier in Turkey and you founded your brand on these values. Can we learn the story of the brand from you?

Roksan : I started working in the fast fashion industry right after graduation. During this time, I have traveled a lot and seen a lot of production stages. The waste materials around here, the fabrics going to waste, all the things spent even to make a sample were turning into a heartbreak for me. Somehow anticipating the future, I started collecting materials that we would throw away, and I collected so much that when I wanted it to turn into something, I was able to build Máh-roc. The story of its name comes from a community that once lived as nomads in Afghanistan. It means moon and sun. The reason why I am inspired by this community is that they travel from place to place and always carry the items they use with them, such as the waste fabrics I have collected from my many travels, and do not leave them behind. I wanted to establish this brand in order not to leave these pieces behind and to give them a second life.

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Bediz: Okay; Many concepts such as sustainable production and recycling have been talked about in our world for a while. But upcycling is a newly talked about topic, and you predicted this when you founded your brand in 2016. At that time, when you had a life, a job, and an order, this sensitivity you felt towards the world took precedence over your other priorities and you founded Máh-roc. Wasn't this a tough decision?

Roksan : Yes, but there is also this fact: In fact, recycling and upcycling were concepts that were talked about a lot in the world, but they have just arrived in Turkey. I received my education abroad and these themes were very popular at the school I studied at. For this reason, I can say that this awareness in me started long ago, but the point where I turned it into a job came thanks to my work experience. The scenario I saw while working in the fast fashion industry both encouraged me to produce a seasonless collection and instilled the awareness that we should slow down a little more and realize this production. By the way, I would like to tell you the difference between upcycling and recycling because it is very important and needs to be known. In the recycling concept, everything that is recycled undergoes a chemical process and again harms the environment. In Upcycling, since we transform an unused thing into something completely new, we pollute the environment to a minimum and no chemicals are released.

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Bediz: While talking about the ethical production concept, we mentioned that your production is environmentally friendly. We should also pay attention to the part that touches human rights, and you are the pioneer of a very good initiative in this regard. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Roksan: As a brand opinion, we oppose the harsh working conditions and fast production approach that dominates the fast fashion system in the world. We wanted to establish an order where everyone working is equal, so my mother and I are trying to get involved in the production process and do something. In addition, all the fabrics we collect from Sri Lanka are the leftovers of women's hand-woven fabrics. First of all, we started working with them by reaching an agreement and part of the sales of this collection will go to them as donations. We would love to work with more women and people in need and turn this into a production pillar.

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Bediz: Your brand values ​​have a side that supports individual production and encourages women to produce, this is a truly excellent example of ethical production. When you position your brand, you position it not only in the product you produce, but also in a completely different framework. When we look at the brand, we do not only see products; on the one hand, you share inspiring travel diaries and motivating sentences, and each product has completely different names. Can you tell us a little about how you named those products?

Roksan: Actually, we can also mention this. Our motto is “We Travel, Collect and Re-design”. Since I started this business during my travels, I search everywhere I travel to see if I can find a fabric there, and I name the fabrics I find after that region. Sometimes we research the old names used in that region and give these names. This is how the naming process goes. Besides, we do not want to focus only on production. It's a concept, after all. We keep a journal to share more and show what we are inspired by. Under the posts we share on Instagram, we try to explain concepts such as ethical fashion and sustainability with both informative and motivational sentences.

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Bediz: There are many valuable points in this story, such as being sensitive to the environment and people and containing many messages underneath. It is great that such a brand comes out of Turkey. And finally, I want to ask this. Currently, we are trying to continue our lives as much as we can in the new world order, even if we do not leave our homes much. What is the dream you want to realize or the goal you set for yourself when everything becomes a little more normal?

Roksan : I was in Sri Lanka just before Corona became widespread and had plans to travel to many places from there. When this incident came to the fore, I had to return to Turkey. While I was in Sri Lanka, I had a plan to continue my trip with India, because although these two countries are very close, they have very different cultures and I wanted to go to India and get to know more people, more fabrics and more stories. I haven't been able to realize this yet due to Corona, but my first dream is to travel there again and realize my wishes. Because these days will surely end, we will somehow return to normal and travel again.