Only six jeans, an expensive advertising in a fashion trade magazine and a good portion of self-confidence marked the success story of the denim brand that started 20 years ago. At that time only Italian and American jeans dominated the European market. So entering Germany with a Turkish denim brand called Mavi Jeans in 1996 was everything but easy as board members Emin Cezairli and Serdar Mazmanoglu remember.
“With our ad we attracted some big fashion houses. And as the first client visited us with a team of three buyers he was very astonished to see our small range of only six jeans”, Mazmanoglu told and the memory made him smile. “We ran into a lot of skeptics. The client was very skeptical concerning our Turkish jeans, but when he had a look and feel of the products he realized the great quality.” Since then, yet, despite all the detractors, Mavi has pulled off a highly unlikely achievement. “The first five years weren’t easy, but we were able to prevail thanks to our perseverance, quality of products and a good price-performance ratio,” Cezairli completed. “And today Mavi is known for excellent quality and great fitting denim.”
Backing and lots of support for the ambitious business in Germany came from Istanbul, where the brand success story took off grounds when the Akarlilar family of Istanbul founded Mavi 1991 and took over market leadership in its home country only four years later. Ever since, the Akarlilar family believes in close familial ties. One son and two daughters are still part of the business and despite external investment the majority of the shares (51%) is still controlled by the family. It is thus not surprising that 20 years ago a friend of the family, Emin Cezairli, was chosen to run its operations in Germany. When he received the offer, Cezairli–who incidentally is a trained physician–did not pass on the opportunity and took over the distribution of Mavi Jeans and the concept with the family connection. His brother-in-law Serdar Mazmanoglu has also joined the company as Cezairli's partner and marketing expert.
Ever since, they have helped growing the business in German-speaking Europe from their European headquarters that was first based in Dietzenbach and moved to Heusenstamm, near to Frankfurt am Main, some years ago. It is quite possible that they will also oversee distribution for new markets starting in 2017. “There are some interesting export markets in terms of expansion. We just examine the possibilities and partners“, said Emin Cezairli about the label's expansion plans. More details should follow when contracts are signed and distribution can start, knowing that entering will probably be less troublesome than the start in Germany.
Over the long term the brand positioned itself successfully as mid prize denim brand with its target group in the German speaking market which has also become clear at trade shows. “For a long time we were the only mainstream price point at Bread & Butter because we also went out on our own with, for example, the 11.5 oz product with Adriano Goldschmied. And we introduced NOS and the flare at an early stage,” says CEO Mazmanoglu.
Currently, Mavi Germany is selling the three collections Young Fashion Men, Young Fashion Women and Uptown targeting women as well. The Uptown collection will add tops to its spring/summer 2017 collection, a line extension already part of the overall collection at Turkish headquarters. In addition, special styles for the Uptown segment were developed for the German market. Also the offer of different premium lines which are characterized by the use of innovations in fabrics and finishings has been extended in recent seasons - like Mavi Gold that is also part of the Young Fashion Women and Uptown. Or Ultramove, a former line at Young Fashion Men that has been extended into the Young Fashion Women to attract new audiences. With this course Mavi took the chance to position itself with higher price points increasing the RP from 79,90€ to 89,90€. Also the introduction of new collections like Indigo Move is part of the strategy to generate growth by building up and expanding a premium segment. This is part of the brand’s long term strategy to grow – also in Germany, where Mavi services 1159 POS, 1655 floors, 156 shop in shops, 9 own retail stores and an online shop.
The last twenty years were an exciting time for Emin Cezairli and Serdar Mazmanoglu and they are looking forward to the next twenty years to come as for them there is nothing more exciting than the denim business: As “denim is an inexhaustible pool of possibility and reinvention”, Mazmanoglu stated.