Wool the fibre of fashion parades
Fashion students will join WA designers at this year’s Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days to showcase their eco-conscious woolly frocks on stage.
The fashion parades, collaborated by Eco Fashion Week Australia, aim to raise awareness about eco-friendly fashion and the merits of using Merino wool, while highlighting the important role that WA’s producers have in creating the fibre.
Designs from Curtin University, Edith Cowan University and Carine Senior High School students will feature in the parade, and each designer will be paired with a local wool producer.
Even field days livestock co-ordinator and Merino man Brett Jones, of Ejanding stud in Dowerin, will be in the fashion mix.
Organiser Zuhal Kuvan-Mills said it was extremely important to encourage the next generation of designers to be more eco-conscious and know the origins of their material.
“When designers create a piece, they have to consider where it’s going to end up and the ecological effect of their work,” she said.
“If they use wool, which is biodegradable, it’s not only more environmentally friendly but it also supports our local producers and the Australian economy.”
Ms Kuvan-Mills, who is a designer, farmer and educator, said she used a lot of wool in her designs and worked closely with producers.
She often sources Merino wool from an organic farm in Kojonup run by Grantly and Peta Marinoni, who have been producing the fibre alongside an oats operation for more than 20 years.
“I always try to integrate wool into my work, even if the concept of the design makes it tricky,” Ms Kuvan-Mills said.
“Wool’s such a great material to work with and it’s very versatile — you can use it for work wear, couture and even wedding gowns.”
Ms Kuvan-Mills founded Eco Fashion Week Australia in 2017 in a bid to draw like-minded eco-conscious fashion professionals together. Her brand, Green Embassy, was Australia’s first internationally recognised organic fashion label.
She said Eco Fashion Week Australia’s third appearance at Dowerin Field Days would be an ode to wool growers.
“EFWA will always celebrate Merino wool as a sustainable fibre,” she said.
Each parade will feature the designs of students as well as items from Green Embassy, Fabric of Nature, Skylark, Claudi Jvr and Gemini Kite, while Konnongorring farmer and field days assistant event co-ordinator Tiffany Davey, in partnership with her sister Hannah Davey, will emcee proceedings.
ECU head of fashion Justine McKnight said her students were excited to work with wool and take part in the parades. “They’ve sourced a lot of the material from op shops — things like heavy woollen blankets and garments — so being able to recycle found material that would’ve had another context and life has been really interesting for them,” she said.
Ms McKnight said the project was a great way to teach students about sustainable fashion and, in turn, support the local wool industry.
Ms Kuvan-Mills said seeing farmers and wool producers watching her fashion parades at previous field days had both motivated and inspired her.
“I saw some of the stud owners standing and watching a show, so I went up to them and one of them said, ‘Girl, you are doing so well, keep promoting our wool’. Hearing that just made my day,” she said.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails