New York, NY—In today’s evolving luxury retail environment, brands and retailers alike have struggled to navigate changes and challenges. Today’s savvy, digitally-native consumers not only seek authenticity, but can see straight through disingenuousness: in the age of Google, it’s easy to find out if a brand is telling the truth about its roots or if its brand story is entirely made up.
Of course, it helps to have an unusual story to begin with, which happened organically for the GURHAN brand. Turkish-born designer Gurhan Orhan set out to recreate and revive the original techniques of the ancient metalsmiths of Anatolia, but apply them to modern jewelry design. Ancient Anatolian pure gold jewelry can be found in museums around the world, and the GURHAN brand’s signature use of 24k gold and hand-hammered texture pay homage to those techniques. In 2019, the company is recommitting to telling its story to both trade and consumer audiences: distribution will include all aspects of industry and consumer-facing vehicles, including the GURHAN e-commerce website, printed materials, trade shows, and POP, says marketing director Alice Aquilino.
Part of the GURHAN brand story is the life the designer and his wife and business partner Fiona lead. Avid travelers, the two share a fascination for exotic cultures and handcrafted artistry, and both their apartment and his atelier are a collector’s paradise for exotic objets d’arts. (At top of page, the two during one of their traveling adventures.) Since meeting 25 years ago in Istanbul, the two routinely travel to obscure places, exploring beauty and culture. Inevitably, objects from every trip find their way to the Orhans’ home, which is filled with handmade treasures such as a gilded Chinese wedding bed, a seven-foot tall Indian temple guard, a tea-painting from a roadside artist in Morocco, Mongolian prayer flags, dragons from Bhutan, embroideries from Myanmar, sheep-fur masks from Romania, paintings from Azerbaijan, terracotta figures from Urartu, early Roman glass bangles and more.
Clockwise from above left: Gurhan and Fiona's dining room, an elaborately carved chest, a statue, and a wooden horse acquired in their travels.
The GURHAN brand story is reflected in every touchpoint from workshop to website, says Aquilino. The designer’s atelier in Tribeca (lower Manhattan) is situated in a landmark building and was personally refurbished by Gurhan, from refinishing the floors to building picture frames to encase his jewelry. Of course, it’s also filled with artifacts and antiquities. Shoppers are invited to hang out, have a drink or a coffee, and listen to music. The designer also hosts special personalized events for his network of retailers, who are encouraged to weave his story into their presentations of the brand.
“With today’s consumer seeking an emotional connection to the brands she invests in, it is this rich, colorful and genuine narrative that continues to fortify the relationship GURHAN has with its customers,” he says.
Gurhan's atelier with his hand-made picture frames to display jewelry, above, and the antique doors and floor he refinished, below.
Two pages featuring new collections in Gurhan's 2019 Spring LookBook: