January 24, 2011

Forlorn Suriye Pasajı Brings Joy to the Fashion-Treasure Seeker

Admittedly, the entrance to İstiklal’s Avenue’s Suriye Passage isn’t too enticing. Cluttered with discount luggage and pastel-colored ear muffs, little remains of its glamor days when it was the site of Istanbul’s first movie theater. Save for a brightly lit barber and a scattering of stores selling fur and handbags, this 19th-century passage is largely empty.

One only needs to follow Suriye Passage to its end, to where generously proportioned moustaches on old film posters lead down to a magical underground world.

Hakan Vardar’s By Retro, regarded as one of Istanbul’s top retro fashion stores, is a true basement of treasures. The scent alone – reminiscent of grandmothers and their moth balls – is a welcome sign that this is the real deal. Popular with bargain hunters, fashion gurus, movie makers and the merely curious, this flamboyant store has established a colossal collection from Turkey and abroad, and it claims to be the largest second-hand store in the world.

Every square inch of By Retro seems to have been bestowed with meaning; the walls are covered with paintings depicting an alluring harem life, while the ceiling hosts elaborate, albeit a little worn, chandeliers.

Read more on Hürriyet Daily News: Forlorn Suriye Pasajı Brings Joy to the Fashion-Treasure Seeker


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