If you’re like me, you probably buy your towels at a local store like Walmart, Target, or Bed Bath & Beyond. For years, my linen closet was full of thin, unappealing towels from these stores. Sure, they dried me off, but there was always that sense of “meh” whenever I’d use them. One morning I was drying off after a shower and thought to myself “there has to be something better out there!” Turns out, I was right!
My friend, Ashley, flew in from California to visit me this past weekend. When she arrived, she unpacked her suitcase in my spare bedroom, and to my surprise, brought her own towels. They looked so different from my flimsy store-bought towels that I had to ask, what were they? She unfolded one of her big white, fluffy towels and held it up, so I could see the entire sheet from top to bottom. I was surprised by the size of the towel, it was huge! I held my hand out to touch it and this is where my life changed forever. It was the softest towel I’ve ever felt. From that moment on, I was hooked. I had to know more.
I Google-searched “Turkish Towels” to see what the internet had to say about them and, to my surprise, these haven’t been available in America up until about 10 years ago. Being the investigative type that I am, I reached out to a Turkish towel company based in America to pick their brain on towels. The first company that popped up in Google was “Classic Turkish Towels,” a Turkish towel manufacturer based in Connecticut. I called them up and was connected with Ismail Aktim, the Vice President of the company. He spoke with a strong Turkish accent but knew English fairly well. I asked him how long he had been in business in the United States for. Ismail told me he had came here in 2006 to start his own towel company after working for one of the largest textile manufacturers in Denizli, Turkey, which is apparently the Turkish textile capital of the world. He went on to say that when he first started his company, Classic Turkish Towels, sales were slow and there wasn’t that much interest in Turkish cotton. He went on to say that sometime in 2010, things really started to take off. “We were selling out of towels for the first time since I started this company. I had retailers calling me begging to put my towels on their shelves.” Ismail Said.
“Wow!” I thought to myself. I had no idea these even existed up until about a week ago. Why the sudden surge in popularity? I had to dig deeper to find the answer.
In Turkey, textiles are the biggest contributor to the country’s economy, representing over 10% of the country’s entire GDP every year. The country is home to approximately 40,000 textile companies, employing over 1.9 million people. Before 2010, Turkey mainly exported textiles to eastern countries like Japan and India. Over the past 10 years, they’ve been entering Europe and American markets, causing a mass disruption in the standard American textile market. Americans & Europeans love their Turkish textiles so much, that they’ve become the top importers of Turkey’s towels & apparel, taking over Germany, Japan, & India.
So increased demand and better quality seems to be the cause, what is the effect? Well, the United States saw the wave of textile companies entering the US and saw this as an opportunity to bring back jobs. Textile companies based in the United States saw over $2 Billion in capital investments in 2015 alone, marking the beginning of America’s resurrected textile market.
There is one thing we know for sure; Turkish textiles are here to stay and won’t be going anywhere for a long time. Google trends shows searches for Turkish cotton increased by six times over the past 5 years and projects even more interest next year. Don’t just take my word for it, go out and try a Turkish towel or bathrobe for yourself! I’m now the owner of a Turkish towel set and bathrobe from Classic Turkish Towels and I’ll never switch back to store bought towels again!
This article was written by Karen McMurphy, a delightful blogger who reached out to us and asked if we could help her on her journey to finding the answers to her questions about Turkish textiles.