Ancient art with an eco edge

05 July, 2017

An unwavering love of the environment and animals has seen Turkish-born but Perth hills-based Zuhal Kuvan-Mills’ career go from the operating theatre to the pages of Vogue Canada.

The eco fashion designer and Green Embassy clothing label owner first started making money from her passions when she became a veterinary surgeon and later an animal science lecturer in England.

A burning desire to combine the spinning, knitting, dress making and sewing skills she learnt from her grandmother and mother as a child in Turkey with her love of the natural world led to a career change in 2004.

She began studying visual arts in London and continued her studies at Curtin University when she emigrated here with her husband in 2006.

After graduating, Kuvan-Mills focused her creative efforts into textiles and fashion design, which she says is guided by a 100 per cent sustainability ethos.

She was originally happy doing textile art but after representing WA at a trade show in South Korea she was invited to show her pieces at a fashion event.

She hasn’t looked back since with the help of CCI’s International Trade team providing advice on carnets (temporary customs clearances that stop bonds and duties) as she took her work across the globe.

“Green Embassy started shortly after,” she says.

“I’ve shown my pieces in London, Beijing, at Paris fashion week and in Vancouver. Canada Vogue only select about eight designers for each edition but now every time I go to Vancouver they put me on their pages.”

Green Embassy is Australia’s first internationally recognised organically certified fashion label and aims to have a minimal footprint by adopting fair trade practices with an emphasis on animal welfare and environmental protection.

Part of the reason she wanted to create her own brand is because Green Embassy heralds back to more traditional cloth making techniques, but can be done in Australia.

Her textiles and designs are created by weaving, felting, stitching, knitting and/or embroidering luxury raw materials and fibres such as silk, alpaca, merino and organic cotton.

“Sustainable fashion means we’re keeping alive traditional handmade textile art and the spin and knit,” she says.

“Those techniques are disappearing.

“If we are producing our own garments locally, even 10 per cent of them you are creating job opportunities for a lot of women.”

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