Stitching Sustainability: Chopova Lowena

22.11.2023Alberto Bailin, Co-founder of LienzoPhoto by Henrik Hjortshøj  

What do Bulgarian folklore and English traditional attire have in common?

Chopova Lowena is a distinctive fashion brand that skillfully merges folklore and sportswear, placing a strong emphasis on sustainability and craftsmanship. This case study explores how Chopova Lowena has woven sustainability into the fabric of its brand, from design to production, and evaluates its environmental and ethical practices.

Chopova Lowena's aesthetic is deeply rooted in the heritage of its founders, Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena. The brand seamlessly combines Bulgarian folklore with English historical attire, creating a unique blend of cultural influences. The iconic colorful plaid pleats, inspired by Bulgarian "bruchnik" and Scottish kilts, showcase the brand's commitment to preserving traditional techniques.

The brand stands out for its conscious sourcing of materials, with Emma and Laura personally rummaging for traditional Bulgarian textiles and using vintage English tablecloths and linens. The use of deadstock fabrics, including recycled materials like pillowcases and aprons, reflects their dedication to sustainable practices. This approach not only reduces waste but also adds a layer of uniqueness to their designs. In short, the brand's use of recycled materials helps minimize chemicals, water, and wastewater in the production process. Furthermore, and despite the high demand for their products from retailers such as Dover Street Market and Matches, the brand still chooses to craft each piece uniquely. Each one of their products that’s being sold is thus one of a kind, conferring the consumers a sense of exclusivity, a status that other brands with higher production do not give them .

The brand's decision to embrace handmade production methods significantly reduces its carbon footprint, aligning with sustainable practices. Chopova Lowena's efforts to trace its supply chain and maintain regular visits to suppliers demonstrate a commitment to transparency and continuous improvement.

Source:  Chopova Lowena 

When it comes to employment practices, Chopova Lowena takes a commendable approach to ethical employment by employing skilled female artisans in Bulgaria. The small atelier where the garments are hand-sewn creates job opportunities for women passionate about preserving cultural heritage through traditional techniques. This community cultivation not only supports skilled artisans but also contributes to the empowerment of women in the fashion industry.

The brand has also gained global recognition, with celebrities like Dua Lipa, Itzy, Charli XCX, Madonna, and Willow Smith showcasing their distinctive skirts. Chopova Lowena's ability to appeal to a diverse audience highlights the brand's potential to influence sustainable fashion choices on a broader scale.

Dua Lipa in Chopova Lowena 
Madonna in Chopova Lowena 

In  conclusion, Chopova Lowena serves as an inspiring example of a fashion brand that successfully intertwines cultural heritage, sustainability, and ethical practices. By prioritizing recycled materials, ethical employment, and handmade production, the brand sets a positive precedent for the fashion industry. Chopova Lowena showcases that fashion can be a powerful tool for self-expression while also contributing to a more sustainable and ethical future.