Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Runway show weaves relationship between Mongolia and Turkey

Eighteen models from the Mongolian National Designers Association boasted colorful hand-woven Turkish kutnu and silk chiffon, aptly fusing the traditional and the modern, and the national and the international.

On Friday, June 20, Serap Pollard, the first Turkish designer in London, displayed her AW14 collection at the Embassy of Turkey in Ulaanbaatar in a runway show as part of a week of cultural events to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Turkey.

Pollard’s collection, displayed in front of the crowd of roughly 100, comprised of the international business and fashion community, also embraced a polycentric philosophy.

Pollard used a vibrant, hand-woven fabric called kutnu, traditionally used to make gifts in Turkey. Pollard is an ecological designer as she creates zero-waste fashion, which means little or no textile waste was generated during production. This pays homage to traditional Turkish fashion, which reflects the wearer’s social and ethical values.

Turkish Ambassador in Mongolia, Murat Karkagoz, who co-hosted the event, commented on fashion as a means of bridging cultures.

“Fashion is an important instrument to build a bridge between two countries… I am presenting you the fashion diplomacy. Strong ties between countries, people and organizations tonight… She gets inspired from not only culture, but also the colors and scope of the city,” said Karkagoz. “She is ready for anything to promote and introduce Turkish culture.”

This collection, blending modern fashion trends with traditional styles, was a unique display of sustainable and organic fashion, usually bland.

On bringing sustainable fashion abroad, Pollard, whose company is based in London, noted, “I live in London and the fashion there is very fast paced and people use one garment, throws it away and then use another. The clothes they use are mostly not eco-friendly materials and fibers. But Mongolia is not aware of it and does not actually need because the clothes here are organic. Food is organic, clothes are organic, and everything is organic. It’s heaven here! British people need Mongolia. Mongolian clothes are heaven, there is cashmere, leather, wool and food is delicious because it is organic and natural,” said Pollard, going on to comment on the importance of displaying her work in Mongolia during this week.

Despite geographic distance, Mongolia and Turkey share a longstanding economic and trade relationship. In Mongolia’s “Third Neighbour Policy” (TNP), a feature of Mongolia’s foreign policy that intends to balance relations with its direct neighbors, China and Russia, Mongolia refers to Turkey as one of its third neighbors.

According to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey views this mention as indicative of the “importance of friendship” with Mongolia and considers it as “a strategically important country with its huge landmass and vast resources,” citing 40 million USD in trade volume between the two countries.

This implies that landlocked Mongolia seeks to strengthen its relations with third parties such as Turkey, as the country is heavily dependent on China and Russia as trading partners, with 54.9 percent and 17.7 percent of its total trade occurring between these countries, respectively, according to the European Union.

Cultural events celebrating the anniversary were held from June 17- 22.

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