THE INTERVIEW : LOWIE
BY ALICE WILBY
Heritage inspired womenswear label, Lowie, are one of sustainable fashion’s success stories. Founded in 2002, Lowie has grown into a unique, sought after brand, known for their soft knits and vintage inspired prints, worn by fashionista including Erin O’Connor, Lily Cole, Fearne Cotton and Rachel Khoo. We chat to Lowie founder, Bronwyn Lowenthal, about Scottish knitwear, swing dance classes and how it all started with a pair of socks!
What was the ‘eureka’ moment that inspired you to start your label?
I had bought a load of hand knitted really colourful Turkish socks back from a holiday and one of my friends hadn’t taken them off for 10 days! At that moment I realised I had a winning product and used those socks as inspiration for the rest of my first collection.
Your brand is renowned for it’s vintage inspired knits and prints. Tell us about the inspiration for your current A/W collection?
AW16 is inspired by the bleak Scottish coastline, especially the remote island of St Kilda in the outer Hebrides which was abandoned in 1930. They wore big skirts and frilly blouses and made a lot of hand made knitwear. For the first time this year Lowie is making some of its’ own knitwear in Scotland although on the east coast rather than the west coast.
The Lowie flagship store in Herne Hill, stocks some great sustainable brands alongside your own line. What are your favourite sustainable stories from the brands you have in store?
I love Kate Sheridan especially as her sleek bags are Made in the UK from vegetable tanned leather, Much of it is hand finished in her Hackney studio. I also stock a number of small London-made jewellery brand like Wolf and Moon and One We Made Earlier. It feels good to support so many small independent local designers.
What has been the most rewarding part of creating a sustainable brand?
I love spreading the message that you can have a veritable business and still be kind to people and planet. I think it’s makes great business sense to go down the sustainable route and it feels good too!
What has been the most challenging?
The most challenging aspect of trying to maintain the most sustainable business model is finding suitable raw materials to use for our products. First and foremost, we need to create beautiful things that people want to wear and then try to find a sustainable way to make them. We don’t always succeed in all aspects but we will keep doing our best to push the boundaries.
When you're not working, what's your guilty pleasure?
I’ve just started swing dance classes with my husband which is loads of fun. And we’ve just got a puppy, April. She's a Cockapoo and totally adorable!
What's next for Lowie?
I’ve just been to Peru where I’ve commissioned some samples for AW17 that are hand made high up in the Andes in small family workshops by traditional peoples of the area. I’m really excited to start working with alpaca which is an amazing fibre that is sustainably sources and so warm and soft. Mixed with merino wool gives the alpaca a lightness and fluffiness which will be a pleasure to wear.