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Rebel Spirit in Turkey

October 2013

By Selcuk Koruturk, Istanbul

Personal style is quite important in Turkey. Though Turks have yet to cut a style of their own, they are quick to adopt worldwide trends. The original and unique have a tendency to rapidly become mainstream in Turkish society.

Gaming is huge in Turkey. It started with PC gaming cafes. Then came console gaming cafes, and pretty soon people were buying Playstation and Xbox consoles for their homes. Now there's a new device in town: the smartphone. While Internet cafes and online gameplay brought people together, mobile gaming is all about tuning out and passing time. In a city where the average daily commute is close to two hours, playing Angry Birds on an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy is a great way to kill time. Consoles have a limited target audience in Turkey compared to the range of people tapping away on their phones on public transportation. Sharing latest scores with friends on Facebook or taking screen shots of the game to post on Instagram are not-so-subtle ways of saying “Look at me, I'm playing this latest game too!” The recent crowd favorite is Candy Crush

There are also interesting changes in automotive buying habits in Turkey. We pay one of the highest prices for gas at the pump, so cars with smaller engines are now more preferable than big sedans or SUV's. However it used to be that the low-end models of brands, such as Renault and Fiat, were only preferred by people with lower income.  The Renault Clio or the Fiat Punto's older designs  were not very pleasing to the eye. Nowadays, the newest models of these automobiles have more streamlined designs comparable to mid-upper range car models, like the VW Golf or the Audi A1. The shift has resulted in a wider range of buyers. People who wouldn't be caught dead in a Clio a few years ago are now whizzing around Istanbul in the latest models, because cheaper no longer means uglier.

The latest trend in personal style is to be a “chapulju,” or a looter. The term, coined by Prime Minister Erdogan to describe the rioters in the recent events in Taksim Square, was quickly adopted by the public and has now become the latest social status. Rioting has been replaced by boycotting certain brands, which openly sided with the government during the events in early June.

Dogus Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Turkey, owns properties in media, banking, fine dining and fitness, among other ventures. They witnessed a steep decline in customers in all of their industries when their flagship news channel NTV refused to show the protests for weeks. The Starbucks in Taksim Square closed their doors to protestors seeking refuge from tear gas, and as a result their cafes scarcely had any customers for the entire month of June. The boycotting, just like the rioting, waned as the summer season kicked in; however, there is a new sense of identity for people all around Turkey who took part in the Gezi Park protests.

Among the many things that emerged from the recent protests was a new sense of style. This post-protest style it not experessed through wearing certain clothes, or frequenting certain places. But being “chapulju” is cool: it's brave, it's peaceful, it means standing up for one's rights. It means many things. And who knows? Perhaps it'll be the first trend Turkey will export to the rest of the world.

Retail & Dining
Food & Drink
Fashion & Style
Turkey is Candy Crush's fourth-biggest global market
Gazi Starbucks close in Taksim Square due to boycotting
Istanbul rush hour

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