This Turkish Line Will Become The Plus Girls’ Newest Obsession

Photographed by Leriam Gonzalez.
Many women above a size 12 have walked out of a store feeling let down — that one eye-catching piece doesn't even come in a size that fits. Some can shrug it off, accepting disappointment as a condition of having a fuller figure. Others prefer to take matters into their own hands, as Aysegul Ilter did.

Finding inspiration from her frustration, Ilter has designed the new plus line Shegul. Influenced by her curvy friends and her own experience working for cult fashion favorite Maiyet, she aspires to fill the gap she perceives in the market for high-quality, high-end clothing for women who wear above a size 10.

Shegul, for sizes 12 through 24, will have unique luxury prints informed by Ilter's world travels. Expect classic silhouettes with sleek, modern, and sometimes athletic-inspired touches, with a look reminiscent of street style stars. Click through to learn more about the designer behind the label and to see her debut collection, set to arrive next month.
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Photographed by Leriam Gonzalez.
What does the name “Shegul” mean?
"Shegul is inspired by my own name, Aysegul, however my name written in Turkish is a bit more complicated to read because of the diacritic characters. The name is derived from 'Ayşe,' the Turkish form for the Arabic name Aisha, meaning 'she who lives,' plus 'Gül,' a Turkish word meaning 'rose' or 'smile.' I love the word 'She' combined with 'rose and smiles' and no other names we considered gave the same warm and fuzzy feeling."
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Photographed by Leriam Gonzalez.
What was your inspiration for this collection?
"The primary inspiration comes from my travels. I have been blessed to travel around the globe, visiting popular destinations as well as hidden gems in many countries. Inspiration for this particular collection culminated during my recent trip to Eastern Europe, specifically the day I spent in Karlovy Vary. It is a beautiful town nestled in the hills and forests of the Czech Republic. It feels as if you landed in a fairy tale, a town full of crystals and healing waters!

"The reflection of light on the black crystals was the inspiration for some of the prints in the collection, while the natural water fountains and the residual water left behind was the inspiration for another print. Colored crystal objects become the glass florals in the collection."
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Photographed by Leriam Gonzalez.
Why did you choose to create a plus size collection?
"I know how miserable it can be to open your closet, look at it, and find nothing that makes you happy or excited. My friends have had similar experiences and have long been talking about how impossible it is to find something exciting and attractive to wear.

"Prior to founding Shegul, I worked for a luxury brand, Maiyet, as a member of their leadership team. Of course, when you are attending events etc., you want to represent the brand and wear the clothes. During my entire tenure, I couldn’t buy a single item of clothing because they were not made to fit curves and because I couldn’t fit into any of their standard sizes. I only was able to wear a Maiyet dress once to an occasion during my four years at the brand. And even that required some pins, belts, and last minute adjustments."
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Photographed by Leriam Gonzalez.
How does American plus size fashion compare to what's available in Turkey?
"Unfortunately they are very similar markets with very few brands, and little excitement. Europe in general has more established brands, and more diversity. The market leader is Marina Rinaldi, which has been around since 1980, and Elena Mirὸ, around since 1985. Those brands offer what many brands in the U.S. lack: quality products with in-store experiences that make them globally successful.

"However, I think these brands are geared towards more mature customers and do not provide the fashion styling that the younger population is craving."
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Photographed by Leriam Gonzalez.
Was there anything you learned during this experience that surprised you?
"I learned a lot about myself during this journey — about my insecurities, who I am, and what I truly want. I thought that after over 20 years of fashion industry experience, I knew what I wanted. Well, I didn’t have even the slightest idea! I was just going with the flow, which I now comprehend."
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Photographed by Leriam Gonzalez.
What is your ultimate goal for your line?
"I want people get excited when they look at the Shegul products and I want them to enjoy the experience and have fun wearing them. I want them to feel proud and beautiful and stand out in a crowd for all the positive reasons. We want to give women around the globe who have been overlooked something that is created for them in beautiful fabrics, with great design and finishes."
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Photographed by Leriam Gonzalez.
What's your favorite piece from your collection?
"I love the Stella flapper dress; it is such a fun and flirty dress. When I tried that dress on for the first time, I just wanted to dance and feel the smooth silk fluttering around my legs."
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Photographed by Leriam Gonzalez.
What makes your collection different from what's currently available on the market?
"It’s about youthful energy, colors, fabrication, and subtle sexuality. Clever cuts, high-quality fabrics are there to work with feminine curves, while highlighting the individuality of every single Shegul woman."
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Photographed by Leriam Gonzalez.
Have you learned anything about designing for plus-size bodies that you didn't know previously?
"Every day, I am learning! The most important thing I realized long ago is that you never stop learning in the fashion business because it is one of the most dynamic industries that you can work in. I am a textile engineer, and although I am very technical and thought I knew body shapes and types, the more I study, the more I discover.

"Every individual has a unique shape and ignoring their individuality is not something I can agree with. Since I started working on my plus-size collection, I am shocked to see how brutal and judgmental the comments of online contributors are. As a person who utilizes the internet for research and services for many years, it was quite shocking."
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Photographed by Leriam Gonzalez.
And, finally, where can people purchase your designs?
"Initially, you can purchase directly from the Shegul website, and also the online store Hey Gorgeous will be selling Shegul items this summer. As Shegul grows, we will also be expanding into select high-end brick and mortar partnerships in the U.S. and across Europe and Asia. We truly believe in having the option to try on clothes, style them in the stores, and ensuring all women feel confident and sexy when they walk out the door."
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