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It’s ironic but true: Turkish baths are not popular in Turkey. Apart from tourist spots, most Turks do not visit these historical baths—which, from a cultural standpoint, is a pity. The Western world, however, has taken a great interest in the hammam culture, which offers purification of both the mind and spirit. Trendy hammams can be found in most European capitals. Turkish baths have even become backdrops for over-the-top fashion shoots, like Kate Moss’ steamy pictures in W magazine
Hamam, the brand, took this trend, added a touch of Asia and launched a brand that produces high-quality Turkish towels. It soon added more hammam merchandise, such as slippers, bathrobes, bowls and soaps. The brand worked with well-known Turkish product designers to develop trendy new models, attended textile fairs, and never missed design weeks that featured the latest trends and developments in fashion. And now the Hamam brand is known worldwide.<br />Hamam products are made by household textile manufacturer Eke Tekstil, based in Denizli, a southwestern city of Turkey that is well known for its towel and bathrobe industry. Once a little firm that produced products for Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Macy’s, the owners decided to launch their own brand using Eke’s considerable resources and production abilities.<br />
The name “Hamam” for bath and spa goods was patented in 2002. But real success did not come until a survey convinced the Hamam creators that repositioning the brand was vital to success. A new strategy was created that targeted a new demographic: European women fed up with thick and bulky household—particularly bath and spa—products. It was time to reinvent bathrobes and to reinterpret exactly what constituted the spa culture. With this vision, Hamam entered the worldwide luxury spa goods league in 2006.<br />Hamam’s brand, however, is also taking off around the world. OzgurUsta, the general manager of Hamam, cites that Robert De Niro is a devoted costumer and uses Hamam both at home and at his New York spa. Fashion Diamond yachts use Hamam towels. The Moulin Rouge girls and NBA team Utah Jazz are also reportedly fans of the brand. Luxurious London department store Harrods and renowned Parisian department store Printemps also carry Hamam products and represent two of the best-selling purchase points for the brand. Sales in Italy are also strong. And the financial numbers support these claims. Being sold at 250 points in 30 different countries, Hamam’s turnover grew ten times in 2007—from $US 300,000 to $US 3 million in 2008.<br />.<br />
An impressive Hamam retail store is located in Istanbul’s design shopping mall,AddresIstanbul. The store’s interior was designed by ZeynepFadillioglu, the first Turkish female designer to ever style a mosque. The collections carry the signature styles of Aziz Sariyer and IdilTarzi—two industrial designers who strive to keep the cutting and sewing processes to a minimum. Sariyer’s first collection, which featured an inspiring artistic presentation including dancers (as artistic as towels can get!) was recognized with the “Best Design” distinction at Istanbul Design Week 2007. Known primarily for his furniture designs (Sariyer won the “Best Table” award at Wallpaper magazine’s Design Awards in 2006), Sariyer’s textile work is available at Hamam’s online store.<br />
Hamam plans to increase its presence across the globe with more stores in Russia—where the Swarovski-encrusted bathrobes and slippers are favorites. The first store was opened at the Lotte Mall in Moscow and another store to be opened in the Mall of Russia is underway. The brand is also creating awareness through its online presence and by attending events such as the Maison & Objet Fair in Paris. Though its essence is steeped in Turkish culture and history, the future for the Hamam brand is clearly in the hands of luxury-loving bathers in countries beyond Turkey’s borders.<br />A prospect that must give Hamam, even in this troubled economy, a steamy peace of mind.<br />