A man of many cultures and convictions, Ferudun Avar is rich in experience. Born in the city of Mus in eastern Turkey, of Kurdish, Armenian and Turkish descent, Ferudun Avar immigrated to Australia in 1990. He grew up in Istanbul learning his craft from his father, a traditional tailor, and his mother, a dressmaker. “They developed different tailoring in Europe, sophisticated tailoring. They brought it back, and we started learning from them as well,” Avar said. Fast forward to today, and on the subject of mass production versus tailored fashion, Avar expresses his confidence in the longevity of his craft because it is so much a personal service, a one-to-one exchange. “You have to be very good with people. You have to please people because they come to you, the tailor, and you have to develop some sort of relationship to understand them and make something that they want, not what you want.”
Ferudun’s shop is as one imagines a tailor’s workspace to be, however Avar’s rich cultural background adds to the appeal. There are curios such as a vintage Singer sewing machine in the shopfront window, set atop an exotic piece of antique furniture. Stylish suits bedeck mannequins, racks of finished pieces and works in progress fill corners, and reams of fabric in many shades and hues line a couple of walls. Utilising woollen fabrics for his suits, Avar mentions Holland & Sherry as a favoured textile brand. Some of his materials are Australian wool woven into fine textiles in his country of birth. Adorning shelves on one wall are beautiful leather shoes designed by Avar, and handcrafted for his business. Along with ties, leather belts and accessories, he provides a complete tailoring service.
On his counter, and propped up against a nearby chair, are a variety of unique musical instruments which have remained unchanged for millennia. An accomplished musician, Avar has studied western music alongside traditional Turkish music and other cultural forms. A past performer at the Woodford Festival and at Brisbane’s BEMAC, Avar believes there is an age old connection between his beloved arts, because like tailoring, Turkish traditional music has its roots in Sumerian culture.
“I play traditional Turkish music and classical Turkish music. It’s not just Turkish music; it’s elements of Greek, Kurdish, all the ethnic minoritiesí music. Turkey’s folk music is very ethnically diverse.” Avar plays a short, beautiful piece on the ney, a bamboo flute similar in sound to Japanís shakuhachi. He also plays haunting, captivating melodies on ancient wind instruments, the may and the duduk, and gives a short demonstration of the saz, a traditional long-necked lute.
He is philosophical about the esoteric effects of music on the person. “Music vibrates something in you, and you can feel it but you can’t explain it. That’s called joy. It is in a sacred place inside of you, and it touches you somehow.” Ferudun Avar is passionate for his craft, and a true gentleman. If you see him on a West End street, say hello, or drop in to his Boundary Street shop for a chat; you might leave much wiser.
Readers also enjoyed this story about Highgate Hill hair studio Chroma.