Chopova Lowena’s latest mini-collection sees the design duo collaborate with traditional Eastern European weavers
The early days of January mark the perfect moment to purchase a new piece of knitwear, thanks to a rapid drop in temperature – though you might be pressed to find winter jumpers quite like those created by Chopova Lowena, the London-based duo made up of Central Saint Martins graduates Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena. Launching today, a new mini-collection of four knitwear styles takes inspiration from photographs of 1990s dirt bikers and traditional Bulgarian knitwear techniques, making for a vibrant mash-up of colour and pattern in the pair’s offbeat style.
Known for an ability to mix centuries-old craft with obscure contemporary references – a recent collection was inspired at once by a Bulgarian folk festival and 1980s wrestling singlets – the pair have long sought a new approach to the way luxury products are created. Faced with the realities of manufacturing post-graduation (they are already stocked at Matches and LNCC, among others) they have largely turned towards traditional techniques learned from craftspeople in Chopova’s native Bulgaria. “We grew up surrounded by women practicing traditional crafts in each of our homes and communities,” the pair tells AnOther. “Our love for traditional clothing and heritage was what brought us together when we first met.”
With this project, which launches on their webstore today, the duo sought to take this one step further by attempting to create knitwear with the sole purpose of highlighting the manufacturing processes behind it. As such, they began with wool from Yorkshire mills – a reflection of Lowena’s own British heritage – which was then knitted into the final pieces by three skilled craftswomen from a village in Bulgaria’s remote mountain region. “Velichka, Penka and Irena are a wonderful trio of retired women who had spent their lives knitting, weaving and embroidering – mostly out of necessity, taught by their mothers and grandmothers,” says Chopova.
The resulting knitwear is a celebration of both British and Bulgarian craft – ensuring the survival, for now, of techniques which might soon be lost forever. “We hope that purchasing and wearing one of these jumpers evokes within you the love it was made and designed with, and the hugely positive impact in has had on somebody’s life.”
The mini-collection is available on Chopova Lowena’s webstore now.