Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena transform overstock and deadstock Bulgarian fabrics into oversized Victorian-style blouses and accordion-pleated skirts festooned with carabineers and large buckles. Their work is a triumphant celebration of heritage, cleverly transposed into a contemporary context.
Chopova, who was born in Bulgaria but grew up in the United States, and Lowena, who hails from Somerset in the UK, share a passion for craft and sustainability. ‘I became very interested in Bulgarian dress when I started my BA at Central Saint Martins in London and met Laura,’ says Chopova. ‘I was collecting and wearing traditional dress, but it wasn’t until we did our MA together that we started using Bulgarian references in our actual work.’
With an archive that spans wall hangings, needlepoints and aprons, the duo’s approach is highly individualised. ‘For us, it’s about having the right product in mind and the right usage for it,’ says Chopova.
The pair dissociate the fabrics from their origins by juxtaposing them with utilitarian silhouettes and sporty embellishments. For S/S21, they invited artists and craftspeople to contribute, a collaboration that resulted in jeans printed with painterly designs and T-shirts featuring abstract imagery made from cut-up Bulgarian postcards. chopovalowena.com