I was fortunate enough to meet Vanda Smith of GEMINIKITE at a meeting in Fremantle recently with Zuhal Kuvan-Mills, CEO and creator of Eco Fashion Week Australia. I was struck by Vanda’s earthy passion for her work and her dedication and support of the annual EFWA event, now in it’s second year. Having been involved from the start, here was a designer eager to participate and share her skills and know-how, not just with the eco-community, but everyone who enjoys fashion, nature and the skills of old.

Vanda kindly allows me to share some aspects of her work philosophy and the beautiful yet simple story behind GEMINIKITE;

Circular Style: What drew you to becoming a designer? Was there a defining moment? 

GEMINIKITE: Learning to sew - that was a defining moment: learning about fabrics and patterns. I would get clothes from the op shop and reassemble pieces or sections of garments into an outfit. Luckily, I had my Mum to teach me. I see sewing as a life skill. I went on to study Art and Design and used recycling in all aspects of my work.

CS: What specifically led you down an eco-pathway with your designs?

GK: I have always been a recycler and enjoy the process of finding garments or pieces of fabric at the op shops, unpicking them, piecing them together. Some have hand-stitching details! Then I dye them with leaves. I mainly use native plant leaves that I pick up, especially eucalyptus - they have that wonderful Australian smell. I read about the process in the India Flint books and set about learning it myself. 

I was not an overnight success and it has taken many years of practicing and experimenting. I love the dyeing process and the fact that there is no guarantee of colours or patterns. Most importantly, I don't use any chemicals as mordants (fixing agents) and I don't use plastic wrap in the bundles; just leaves and hot water. 

CS: How would someone pick your designs out of a line-up i.e. what would you consider your signature?

GK: At the moment I mainly work with silk and wool as they take the dyeing process the best, but I also use vintage fabrics. I love making something new and unique out of something old. My garments are one of a kind and I sell my signature pieces via my Etsy shop.

CS: Tell me how you came to be working with Zuhal and Eco Fashion Week Australia?

GK: I got involved with Zuhal and Eco Fashion Week Australia when I saw a Facebook advertisement  for designers to apply. I met the eco criteria and was accepted! 

Zuhal is a powerhouse. Her passion for clean, green fashion is contagious; her support of small independent designers and community projects is amazing. I admire her passion and dedication to the eco-conscious community and ethical fashion.

I love being part of Eco Fashion Week Australia, meeting others designers and community with the same ethos and hopefully more and more people will become connected and involved as they learn the importance of slowing down our consumerism and being more mindful of the impacts on the planet. Because as they say, “there is no planet B.”