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Designers, London

The folkloric sportswear of duo Chopova Lowena draws influences from some unexpected places

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Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena found each other in first year at Central St Martins and never looked back. Their shared love of Bulgarian craft aesthetics, obscure literary references and garish rock-climbing equipment has developed into their eponymous line Chopova Lowena, one of London’s most exciting emerging labels. “Starting a brand together was something we dreamed of ever since our first few months at university” they tell me, citing their middle ground as sitting somewhere between “Laura’s love of graphics and strength in researching and Emma’s contrasting feminine, folklore based approach”. Their influences overlap in an explosion of shapes and fabrics, ultimately bonded by a combined love of colour, pattern and texture.

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Having graduated from the MA course as a duo, the pair are currently buried deep in designing for next fashion week. The new collection is based around “a Folk Festival in Bulgaria” and “wrestling in the 80’s”. They explain how they have been “instinctually drawn to the way the festival’s traditions caused people to mix their own clothing with folk clothing and costumes.” Underneath the “seeming disjunction of these two subjects lies a world where these opposing narratives coexist and aesthetically mirror each other.” This meeting of unexpected references is a key aspect of their working relationship, with Laura citing “David Lynch’s Eraserhead and Hitchcock’s Vertigo” as having had a big impact early on, as well as seminal feminist books The Yellow Wallpaper and the Bell Jar.

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Looking forward to 2018, and with a finalist nomination for the H&M design award already under their belts, Chopova Lowena are planning on developing their identity and travelling the world searching for inspiration. “We’re planning a research trip around Eastern Europe where we can explore and uncover more traditional techniques to adapt and modernise” they tell me. “We’re really looking forward to having the opportunity to keep doing what we love together, that means everything to us.”