By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
When you enter the beautiful world of Husna Bulbuloglu, you’ll discover a place where myth and modern life merge. Her sustainable, organic leather sandals evoke the ancient footwear of Roman vestals and Greek deities, as well as the Boho chic style of Ibiza-bound rock stars and models.
Her craftsmanship was bequeathed to her by her Turkish compatriot and master Ali Guven, who introduced his celebrity clientele, including Mick Jagger, Sting, Bette Midler and Dustin Hoffman, to Husna’s brand, earning her even more devoted followers.
Intelligent, interesting and inspiring, Husna talks about epiphanies, mythology and Brad Pitt in this exclusive interview with Eluxe Magazine.
You studied International Relations, and worked in property development. What inspired you to change your path to fashion?
In the summer of 2005, I paid a visit to Bodrum, a port city in Muğla Province, in the southwestern Aegean Region of Turkey. It is a natural environment full of fascinating, ancient and archaeological inspiration for all (who visit it) and that visit forever changed the course of my life.
While meeting with the worldwide famous sandal master, Ali Güven and admiring his craft, I had an epiphany: I knew instantly I had to learn the craft from Güven and follow in his footsteps. It was October 2012. I listened to my inner voice and gave up on my decade-long career in the USA in property development behind to pursue the dream of designing and manufacturing traditional, one-of-a-kind, eco-friendly handmade sandals.
The one of a kind sandals of Ali Güven, the Bodrum Bazaar artisan, brought him the design appreciation of Donna Karan and the opportunity to shoe Achilles Brad Pitt and his Trojan enemies in the famous Hollywood film, Troy.
It was a great honor for me to be taught by the master, Ali Güven, and today, I carry on his tradition with Husna Sandals.
Could you describe the manufacturing process of each item?
Beginning with our leather, we use hides that come from cows raised on organic, open pasture land (eating organic feed when necessary in the winter months). The farms we work with are all certified organic. We then tan the hide using oak bark or vegetable tannins to preserve the leather, and natural oils (from fish/animals or beeswax) to finish it. Our organic leather is free from chrome, metal, formalhyde, sodium sulphide, glutaraldenhyde and sulphuric acid, most of which are found in regularly tanned leathers. We are very aware of how polluting and harmful tanneries are to the environment and we intend to help to reverse this damage step by step every way we can.
How does sustainability meet luxury in your sandals?
We define luxury and exclusivity in our manufacturing. Upon closer inspection, the painstaking work that goes into our construction becomes obvious. We do all our melting by hand and attach the heels ourselves. Each sandal is crafted in our workshop from start to finish. We use sustainable methods and materials that are environmentally friendly and we are proud to be kind to nature and to people.
Do you believe that eco-friendly fashion will eventually take over the market?
Fashion is going the way of (being) organic and environmentally friendly. A great number of eco fashion professionals come from socially conscious networks. They want to change the entire fashion industry, because it’s one of the most damaging industries in the world. I personally believe designers really have to struggle if they are young, because developing eco fashion costs more because of the expenses that come from paying better wages for labor and alternative processes to (textile) treatment. I have to admit, If we want to have a healthy lifestyle and save the world, then we have to pay for it. All things being equal–style, price and quality–I believe a consumer will pick a sustainable product versus one that’s environmentally unfriendly.
Where do you find inspiration for your new creations?
I prefer to be stylish rather than ‘fashionable’. While creating our models, we try to interpret adapting previous eras into today’s modern style. Each sandal has its own story written by Greek myths and ancient Goddesses, such as HERA, named after the goddess of home and marriage.
What’s been a career high for you so far?
Even though I knew that our sandals being loved and worn by a huge number of world famous personalities, I got so excited when I prepared a pair of sandal to Princess Galida Talal of Jordan.
You are also a promotor of social causes. How are you sandals helping the less fortunate?
We never forget about the less fortunate. Husna Sandals is sponsoring King Hussein Cancer Foundation, named after celebrated King of Jordan, by donating 10% of profits to the rehabilitation of children.
To win a pair of Husna Sandals, click here.