Like many tech company founders, Selim Aykiran started his boutique towel company out of his Noe Valley garage in San Francisco. His love of San Francisco and passion for textiles is on equal par. If you have a chance to stop by the new store at 803 Delaware Street in Berkeley’s Delaware Street Historic District, you will be in for a treat. Selim loves to share his stories from Italy, New York and San Francisco, all while you are surrounded by beautiful towels he has designed.
Selim — born in Istanbul, Turkey, a country known for its rich textile traditions — has a long and vivid history in the textile world. He left in 1972, to complete his degree in textile and apparel design in London, where he opened a fashion store on South Molton Street in 1977 and sold high-end casual wear from Italy. He moved to Bologna, Italy in 1978 and was the European agent for Italian brands Americanino and Forza12 jeans from Padova, Italy. As part of the GFD group, they moved their operations to Centergross, which became a fashion hub of Europe. Selim was designing and selling jeans, T-shirts, sweat shirts and denim shirts. From there, Selim became involved with Diesel jeans, Ball jeans, Replay, CP company, Sirio shirts and Stone Island under Formula Group. He was the first representative to bring these fashion brands to New York in 1979. He helped create the “jean craze” during the ’70s and ’80s in America. He lived between Italy and New York until 1999.
Between 1998 and 1999, while visiting Turkey, he met master weaver Urguplu in Bursa. Selim was completely enthralled with towel weaving and started to buy as many weaving machines as he could find. Selim has one of the few towel factories still producing towels with these weaving machines, which are over 100 years old and no longer manufactured.
To make towels this way is more labor intensive as you need one weaver per machine, but the incomparable quality cannot be duplicated with high-speed machines. Selim also uses Organic Bergama Turkish cotton grown in the Aegean region, known for its rich soils and minerals. Turkish cotton is of the highest quality, yielding long-staple fibers, that increase durability and drape while becoming softer, fluffier and more absorbent with successive washings.
Bursa is also where the towels we use all over the world were first woven back in the 18th century, so it is fitting that Selim built his factory here. Selim personally designs and oversees the production and works with a number of master weavers who produce the towels. He is proud to maintain this weaving tradition and bring this special product to the world and, especially, to San Francisco.
Known since 2000 as the Turkish Towel Collection, Selim has also sold his towels under private label to Front Gate, Ralph Lauren, Gump’s, Barney NY, Wynn Hotel among others. As Selim expands into other home textiles, the brand has relaunched as TTC Home to encompass this broader vision.