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Olcay Gulsen

The creative director of contemporary womenswear label Supertrash tells Laura Jackson how she became a self-taught fashion designer.

How long have you been involved with Supertrash?
The label was launched about six years ago in LA and the designer, Ava Riley, originally just produced a range of contemporary dresses and casual sweatpants. I met her at a party in New York in 2004 and we decided it would be great to work on the brand together, so I became its European agent, based in Amsterdam.  That evolved into me doing the US distribution and now I actually own the brand. I’m creative director with a team of six designers beneath me and we also run an online shop at
www.supertrash.us.

Do you have a fashion background?
No, I worked in human resources before, although it was for a company which specialised in fashion, so I had some knowledge of the industry. I started a distribution company in Holland working with a few small brands, which I liked, but knew it was really just a small step in the direction I wanted to go in, which was to have my face associated with my own brand. I have since taken workshops for technical drawing, as at first I had all these great ideas and couldn’t explain how to make them to the factories. That has been the biggest challenge, being a self-taught designer.

What is your favourite part of your job?
Meeting great people who inspire me, or who I can inspire. People can help you create something out of nothing. I really am living the dream life.

What has been your best fashion moment?
I think it’ll be in February, as Supertrash is doing its first catwalk at New York Fashion Week. This is so exciting for us. We’ve done catwalks in Amsterdam before but this is our first New York show. We hope to do one in London in a couple of seasons too.

What else is in the pipeline for Supertrash?
We’ve just signed a deal with L’Oreal to launch a Supertrash perfume, which will have its official unveiling at New York Fashion Week in February. We also have a quarterly Supertrash magazine, and are shooting our November cover with [pop star] Pixie Lott. It’s our London issue and Pixie is a great new London discovery. She’s leading that aspirational life we want to promote. My vision is for Supertrash to be more than just clothing – I see it as a lifestyle brand and as such I want all the elements that go with that.

What would you like to have done if you weren’t heading up Supertrash?
I’d like to do more helicopter flying. I have my licence now, which took 60 hours of flying and eight sets of exams. I’m hoping to get my own helicopter soon, or maybe a Supertrash one. I still try to fly every Saturday, but  don’t really do it as much as I’d like.

How do you stay optimistic in tough economic circumstances?
I’m very focused and a disciplined, hard worker. I believe that if you really want something, nothing is impossible. Some people think that is too black and white an outlook, but if you keep trying to get what you want, and think outside the box, you’ll get there in the end.

Quickfire questions

Which is your favourite city to shop in?
London is great, I know it pretty well now. My favourite bits are Notting Hill, Mayfair and Brick Lane, and I love Selfridges too.

Who is your favourite designer?
I’m still completely in love with Balmain. I don’t know how they do it every season, but it just keeps getting better.

Who is the best-dressed celebrity?
I like Rihanna’s style. It can seem over the top but she has individual style, and it’s all about that statement.

  • Olcay Gulsen is the owner and creative director of womenswear brand Supertrash

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