Chopova Lowena: reconstructing the past, redefining the future. With their priorities set on storytelling and sustainability, cult-favourite Chopova Lowena, is one brand to keep your eye on.
Deemed as one of the most anticipated emerging brands Chopova Lowena has been rising as a cult favourite for fashion enthusiasts with their unique appeal of traditional wear meets street style. The brand is founded by designers, Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena. For Chopova, her interest in Bulgarian traditions started with the growing curiosity she had about her cultural heritage growing up, spending her high school days reading books about Bulgarian folklore. She then crossed paths with Lowena during her BA studies in Central Saint Martins and instantly clicked with her after discovering they both had a shared affinity for traditional crafts.
From an Equestrian-themed AW19 collection, to a retro-wrestling-gear inspired AW 18 collection, the brand has explored various musings in their collections. But the Chopova Lowena is one that’s still very much recognisable. With feminine silhouettes combined with eccentric fabrics, delicate embroidery mixed with tough hardware, the brand has found a balance between the hard and the soft.
When it comes to their creative processes, their main ideas comes from juxtaposition, which involves finding a middle ground between two visual concepts. “When we do research, we make collages of two themes, so it would always look like they are interacting with each other,” Lowena says to i-D magazine. When this technique of research is met with their traditional fabrics, the brand is able to create a visual style that appreciates the past but embraces the new.
One of their most popular creations being their pleated skirts, which seems like a current-day take on the kilt. The pieces are constructed with a thick belt with carabiners attached to them and from the hooks are where the pleated tartans hang from. By modernizing traditional pieces, the brand brings a fascination to Bulgarian heritage, “It inspires you to want to research more about traditional Bulgarian dress, a culture that I definitely overlooked.” says Teen Vogue editor, Michelle Li, to AnOther Magazine.
Chopova Lowena also finds importance in sustainability when it comes to the production of their garments. The fabrics used for their pieces are mainly sourced from Bulgarian villages where Chopova’s parents were from. At first, she would have to go through auction sites and online ads to find usable fabric, but recently people have started to come to her instead, including a source who finds abandoned factories as well as supplies for hardware. Chopova then brings the materials back to their studio in South London where they manufacture their pieces by upcycling these leftover fabrics. Despite the high demand for their products from retailers such as Dover Street Market and Matches, the brand still chooses to craft each piece authentically without the compromise any retail-style production. With that being said, each one of their product that’s being sold is one of a kind.
Staying true to their goal of sustainability, the brand has yet to present their work on a runway show, but instead promoted themselves via private showings and producing physical copies of look books. Lowena says to Vogue, “It’s a long-lasting object, rather than a show that goes by in 20 minutes. Through the book, we managed to capture what the brand is about.” The brand believes in marketing themselves through visual storytelling told by their campaign shoots. Besides that, the brand has also gained popularity through social media.
In a time where fashion production takes up 10% of the world’s global carbon emissions, a brand that’s keen on sticking with an authentic manufacturing process is definitely the change we need to see. The brand also proves that you don’t need to sacrifice aesthetics and appeal in order to prioritize sustainability. By staying true to their values and identity, we can only look forward to what lies ahead for Chopova Lowena. (Text Vanya Harapan)