Global Young Designer Spotlight: Chopova Lowena

Global Young Designer Spotlight: Chopova Lowena

Chopova Lowena is a label rooted in British and Bulgarian craftsmanship. Co-founders Emma and Laura let us in on the sustainable ethos behind their signature skirts – as well as the (not so) sensible outfits they’re wearing to the airport.

label Chopova Lowena is rooted in folkloric
craftsmanship. Tapping into tradition in a manner which benefits
the future, co-founders (and Central Saint Martins alumni) Emma
Chopova and Laura Lowena approach their collections from a
sustainable perspective.

At their studio in South Bermondsey, this is evidenced by the
medley of vintage Bulgarian fabrics and recycled textiles (we
counted a lot of checks and tartans in those stockpiles) which
contribute to the composition of their cultish kilts. From
schoolgirl minis in jarring colours to box-pleat midis suspended
from carabiner clips (80s rock climbers are a source of
inspiration), Chopova Lowena silhouettes run the gamut. Regardless
of cut or style, the traditional Bulgarian bruchnik skirt serves as
a creative kickoff.

Using overstock and deadstock fabrics from both the US and
Italy, the brand prioritises
provenance. Celebrating both British and Bulgarian craft, the
owners consider their collections “a balance of easy-to-wear and
editorial pieces”. Their airport style takes similar cues: “big
dresses and compression socks” (though, we should note, getting
your foot into elasticated stockings is easier said than done).

Designer: Chopova Lowena

Origin: Bulgaria, US, UK

Homebase: London, England

Type of brand: Womenswear

Where can we shop your collections: MATCHESFASHION.COM

Where did you grow up?

Emma: I grew up in Bulgaria until the age of
seven and then moved to New Jersey. Laura: I grew
up in Somerset, England.

Define your brand:

We combine juxtaposing references, traditional dress and sports
themes to create pieces which involve craft and tradition but are
still modern. We use recycled textiles to create our pleated
skirts, and approach design in a sustainable and long-lasting

The name, Chopova Lowena, is a combination of your surnames.
What’s it like to design as a twosome?

It’s a perfect balance of strengths and vision which we combine.
The great thing about it is having two filters so only ideas we
both feel very strongly about are realised.

Do you remember how you first became friends?

Yes, we started becoming very good friends after going out
together in South
in our first year BA at Central Saint Martins.

Where should we hang out near CSM?

At the student bar. It’s close by, so you can work late – and
it’s cheap.

What does your creative process look like?

We have different methods of working, we both start out by
researching and then Laura works by collaging and patternmaking
while I [Emma] work by drawing and draping.

Where is your studio and what does it look like?

Our studio is in South Bermondsey. It’s a warehouse space and
it’s big and light – an amazing find in London.

Where are your fabrics sourced?

We source vintage textiles in Bulgaria and some in England as
well. We use overstock and deadstock fabrics from both US and
Italy. We try to be resourceful; the fabrics we find are great
quality but have been discarded by factories.

What is the appeal of the pleat?

The pleat comes from a Bulgarian skirt called “bruchnik” which
is a three-quarter length skirt that is tied around the back of a
woman’s body to keep her warm. The pleat also references kilts and

Handmade, sustainably sourced materials are an important
component of your brand. How can other brands work to become more

That’s very individual, there’s no rule. I think we just like
finding things and coming up with a way to make them work, for us
that’s a really fun part of design. Being sustainable is very
important though, brands should work in a way that contributes less
to the damage this industry causes.

Is travelling a source of inspiration?

We don’t travel as much as we want to, but it’s something we
really want to start doing more.

Three destinations on your travel wishlist…

Hungary, Czech Republic and Japan.

What are your go-to airport outfits?

Big dresses and compression socks.

What are you reading right now?

Reborn by Susan Sontag, My Year of Rest and Relaxation by
Ottessa Moshfegh and Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig.

What podcasts are you listening to?

Uncover: Escaping NXIVM, The Moth, Modern Love, Getting Curious
with Jonathan Van Ness, Endless Thread and Someone Knows

What’s next for Chopova Lowena?

A new collection and campaign.

Laura’s Mini Guide to Somerset

STAY: The Pig near Bath
EAT: At the Chapel, Bruton
DO: Hauser & Wirth Somerset
SHOP: Car boot sales

Emma’s Mini Guide to Sofia

STAY: Airbnb EAT: Banitsa, a
cheesy pastry DO: National Art Gallery
SHOP: The antique market behind Alexander Nevsky

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