Do You Know These Istanbul Shopping Secrets?

Midnight Express Store in Istanbul

by Tuncel Toprak

in Shopping

Are you one of those who are sick of visiting the same international brand stores in every city? I am sure  finding a local designer store hidden somewhere in the city would charm right away. Well, you cannot imagine how many requests we get from our guests at Witt Istanbul such as “Where do you shop?” or “Can you please name a few local designers?” So I came up with this post to share some of Istanbul’s secrets with you. I must admit I got lots of help from my friends in creating this list. So, ready, set … go!

Özlem Tuna Design Zone

This is the only store I can name in the old city.

Here is her short story:
Özlem Tuna received her BA degree in Ceramics from Marmara University- Fine Arts Faculty in 1993. Continuing her art studies at the same university, she earned a MAF degree in the Department of Graphic Design- Authentic Printing Workshop.

In 1996, her focus was drawn to jewellery design and manufacturing, and her career in the field began when she first started working for Urart Company.

She established Özlem Tuna Design Studio and Workshop in April, 2003.

Under the same brand name, she designed and manufactured jewellery and home accessories. She is currently providing consultancy services in modelling and design for several companies in the jewellery sector.

In May, 2007, she opened a jewellery and objects gallery called “Design Zone” near Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. In addition to Özlem Tuna jewelleries and home accessories, the works of other Turkish designers are also shown at the gallery.”

Nuruosmaniye Caddesi, Alibaba Türbe Sokak 21/4, Nuruosmaniye
open 09:00-18:00 except Sunday

Atölye Mariposa

Mariposa, a heaven of vintage clothes and home accessories in Istanbul.

Mariposa, a heaven of vintage clothes & home accessories

A heaven of vintage clothes and home accessories. They have two stores, one in Cihangir and one in Nişantaşı, both owned by Banu Öneş and Didem Arayıcı. Banu’s designs are prepared at the back of the shop. Let’s say you went there and liked a dress, but you thought if it could be remade with another fabric or color. Well your wish is their demand. Just pick the fabric and they will prepare the same dress for you. Isn’t it amazing?

Teşvikiye Caddesı, Goksu Apt.  No: 21\1, Nişantaşı
open 10:30-20:00 weekdays, 11:00-21:00 weekends

Şimşirci Sokak 11A, Cihangir
open 10:30-20:00 weekdays, 11:00-21:00 weekends


What if I told you one of the most kept shoe secret in Istanbul? The owner İpek Yılmaz produces only a small number of each model, each made from the best leather. You can thank me later, just hurry up!

Süleyman Nazif Sokak, no:39 Nişantaşı
open 09:00-20:00 except Sundays

Midnight Express

Midnight Express Store in Istanbul

Midnight Express Store in Istanbul

“Midnight Express is a concept store that has developed out of an architect and fashion designer’s desire to create a boutique that reflects their common interests,” say the owners Banu Bora and Tayfun Mumcu. Their collection consists of fashion, lifestyle, accessories and jewelry.

address: Küçük Bebek Caddesi, 7A Bebek
open 10:00-19:30 except Sunday

Zeynep Tosun

One of the most successful of the new breed of young designers. Zeynep studied at Marangoni — one of the most prestigious fashion school in Italy. She got her first experience at Alberta Ferretti. I am sure you will find something you like at her store. Her special collection can also be found the Akmerkez Shopping Mall.

Yeşerti Sokak 17/10 Akatlar
open weekdays 09:00-19:00

Oye Swimwear made in Istanbul, Turkey.

Oye Swimwear


OYE stands for ‘Open Your Eyes’. If you’re in the market for elegant handmade beachwear of the highest quality, look no further. OYE’s Ayca and Zeynep produce sexy lines that will satisfy even the most demanding and uncompromising clientele. Customer satisfaction is their top priority, hence their focus on delivering superb quality products. You can find one of their swimwear showroom in Taksim.

Inonu Caddesi 27/2, Taksim
Tel.: +90 532 236 25 44

What's Next

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Iradj April 30, 2013 at 10:19 pm


I’m going to Istanbul next month and would like to buy some jewelry from “Ozlem Tuna”. I went on to the” Ozlem Tuna” website, but they don’t write down the prices of the jelewry. I really like them and would like to know the price range in Euro.

Thank you very much for your answer.



Erlend Geerts May 2, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Hi Iradj,

It’s very uncommon for such shops to mention prices on their websites, they don’t even put them in the shop display. So I’m afraid you’ll have to drop by when you’re here.

Kind regards,


Iradj May 3, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Hi Erlend,

And can we bargain in those kind of shops?

Thank you



Erlend Geerts May 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Every shop has different policies, but yes, bargaining is part of the Turkish way of doing business.



Beshoy Fekry November 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Hey Erlend,
Nice work, I’ve checked the above it’s almost accessories & women’s wears. What about Men’s Wear ?



Erlend Geerts November 13, 2013 at 7:34 am

Hi Beshoy,

That’s a very valid point you make here. I put it on the to-do list.



Claudia August 15, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Hi There,

I am quite interested in the shoe shop mentioned above but they don’t really mention how much on average their shoes cost (on their website). N39.

Do you have any idea?

Thank you!


Erlend Geerts August 15, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Hi Claudia,

In Turkey they never put prices. It all depends on how much you buy and his good you are at bargaining.

Kind regards,


Anthony Vallve September 20, 2014 at 10:57 am

Good afternoon I am a single Australian male age 76 and have just found your site I will be visiting Turkey in December /January(yes I know it will be cold) do you have a book or something of the like all your info I find very interesting but like all 0f us hate being done and I seem to fall foul of smooth talkers everwhere hope you can help kind Regards Anthony Vallve


Erlend Geerts September 21, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Hi Anthony,

Thanks a lot for the compliments.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a book (yet).

Just keep what I wrote here in mind, make the taxi driver name your note before you release it, and when in doubt or trouble, just call for or mention police. You’ll notice that 99% of the locals are very nice and helpful people. But as everywhere, there are hustlers and traders trying to make as much money as possible. Do read my post on Grand Bazaar bargaining if you plan to go there. 50% or less is what you should aim for, in a nutshell.

Kind regards,


Mehrsa December 15, 2014 at 1:06 am

Merhaba efendim,
I am going to Istanbul in a few days and I was wondering if it’s possible to find some unique cocktail dresses similar to those in Turkish TV series for ex. Laleh devri or Ishq memnu in Istanbul shops? I know for sure that these beautiful costumes are designed by local designers. I guess that you can’t give an exact answer but what I looking for is a good shopping district full of local designer shops that I can spend time to find my desired wearables.
Thank you for this interesting, informing site.


Erlend Geerts December 16, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Hi Mehrsa,

I you want up-scale dresses, you should try the Nişantası district, if it has to be a bit less, then you can try Fatih or Bakırköy.

Kind regards,


Mehrsa February 18, 2015 at 6:51 am

Merhaba arkadash,

We had a wonderful time in Istanbul, thanks for the tips. Since I am an art historian we spent a lot of time in old Istanbul where we had the privilege of dining at Balikci Salaheddin for several times. It was a perfect experience for seafood lovers. Also tried Park Fora but I am not so fund of it. After you try Salaheddin it’s so hard to find a Balikci that can be their rival. We went to Reina the music and ambiance was amazing.
For me Istanbul is always a good idea, a metropole that has so much to offer to different tastes. And unlike other metropolitans people in Istanbul are so helpful and kind. Turkish culture is so welcoming and warm, it’s even obvious in the way that they treat their animals. I am talking about those many dogs and cats that live in absolute peace and napping in sidewalks all the time. Whenever I am in Turkey I fell in love with life again, enjoy being a human being and that’s just because of the feeling that Turkish people give you by their warm acknowledgement unlike ignorance of western cultures.

I have several ideas for you to progress your website. I think it’s good to be more specific about some neighbourhoods. For example you can tell visitors where to eat great food at bazaar or where to have best shisha or where is the best place to go and play backgammon and have some Turkish desserts.

Any way I am a big fan of Turks and I’ve decided to learn Turkish. Could you introduce a good website for learning the language to me? I love to understand tv series without looking at subtitles. It’s a good idea to have some informative links in your website, here is the first one which I asked. :)

Cok tesekor idirim,


Erlend Geerts February 18, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Hi Mehrsa,

Thanks for sharing all this and glad to hear that you had a great time. Thanks for the tips, too. You’ll be happy to know I’m working on a big change for the website, with new content. I hope to be ready in 2 months tops.

As for learning Turkish, from my experience, it’s best done here, in Istanbul. If you can’t take a year or a few months off, then the website Turkish Class may be a good start. Next time you’re here, I suggest to go to Dilmer Language Center and buy their books for Turkish home study.

Kind regards,


Frances Robertson February 19, 2015 at 7:33 pm

We are going to be in Istanbul in September on a cruise ship. We want to go to Istinye Park Mall. We do not dock till lunch time, can you tell us the quickest way to get there.
How much would it cost to go from the cruise termial


Erlend Geerts February 21, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Hi Frances,

The easiest way to get there is to take the tramway to Kabataş, connect to Taksim with the funicular and from there take the metro to the İTÜ Ayazağa stop. Then you’re really close to the shopping mall. You can walk from there or take a short taxi or minibus ride.

Kind regards,


Kay March 3, 2015 at 8:39 am

Hi Erlend – greetings and thanks for all the useful tips to turkey.

I have booked a the holiday inn in sisli and wanted to know the best way to get to the hotel from IST. Is there a hotel or location that a maybe more central or anything you recommend. I still have ample time to cancel the holiday inn…

Do advise. Thanks.


Erlend Geerts March 3, 2015 at 9:37 am

Hi Kay,

The location is not bad. I would take the Havataş shuttle to Taksim, and from there a taxi ride for 3 minutes, 7 Liras tops. You could even walk if you’re travelling light.

Kind regards,


nina March 16, 2015 at 11:38 am


Great info! I have 2 more questions;

1. I would love to buy some local fashion brands – clothes, shoes, accessories – but where to go for a more favorable price range (like H&M or so..)? Are there on the Asian side Bagdad street only international brand stores or also local?

2. Which market would you recommend for best deal buying leather? Bags, purses, jackets…



Erlend Geerts March 16, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Hi Nina,

1. Both
2. The Grand Bazaar actually.

Kind regards,


Neli March 17, 2015 at 1:02 am

Hello. I have booked a room in April for 5 days in Istanbul. I would like to visit the biggest shopping centers in Istanbul.
The location of the hotel is Laleli.
Thank you


Erlend Geerts March 17, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Hi Neli,

Check out this page on Istanbul malls.

Kind regards,


Bronwyn Halbisch April 17, 2015 at 5:54 am

Dear Erlend
I’ve been reading many of your fabulous tips for visiting Istanbul. They’re such a great help in working out what best to do. I’m an Australian and will be on an organised Tour for 20 days, then I’ll be on my own in Istanbul for 8 days in early June. I’m staying in Cihangir. I would like to know:
1. Ferry trip to Black Sea – I would like to take full day trip – would it be best to board Ferry at Besiktas, or Eminonu [looking at Sehir Hatlari Line site, it looks as if Besiktas is closer for me than going into Eminonu]
2. Can you please advise whether I would need to hire a Tour Guide to visit the Spice Bazaar? – I’m a “foodie” [am doing a cooking class at Istanbul Cooking School on Tarlabasi] and wish to purchase spices to bring back to Australia for my own use. I understand Spice Bazaar is also good for many other things similar to Grand Bazaar, but on smaller scale. I would like to spend most of the day there just browsing and drinking in all the wonderful atmosphere, eating at some of the street stalls etc. The Tour takes us to the Grand Bazaar so I don’t need to negotiate that myself.

Based on your absolutely wonderful knowledge, suggestions and recommendations, I’m finding my research is being made so much easier and I really like that.

I found you on Trip Adviser which I’ve spent hours trolling through and it was someone leaving a comment, which connected me up to you, so I’m so grateful.
Many thanks in anticipation.


Erlend Geerts April 17, 2015 at 6:09 pm

Hi Bronwyn,

If you board and leave the ferry in Eminönü, you have the advantage that you’ll get a closer look at Dolmabahçce Palace, and the Maiden Tower to a lesser extend.

Well, there are pros and cons. If you can trust your guide, by all means. At the same time, I know many guides who direct you to shops they have deals with, hence get a commission on everything you buy. And as you can imagine, the shops they have deals with aren’t necessarily the best shops or selling the highest quality on the market. Honestly, since you know food and are willing to spend a whole day browsing around the bazaar, compare, compare and compare before you buy. And make it deep into the Bazaar, don’t don’t stay close to the entrances.

Thank a lot for your kind words.

Have a nice stay,


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