POPUPSHOP is a fashion driven sustainable design brand that represents a minimalistic Scandinavian style with eye catching details and prints. The label appeals to fashion conscious city women and the collections offer a range of beautiful contemporary design styles as well as loungewear and swimwear.
The SS18 collection draws inspiration from the animal kingdom, boasting images of both jungle animals and sea creatures, and the wild environments they each inhabit. POPUPSHOP’s iconic feline prints permit daunting encounters that are both up-close and personal, yet safely observable from a distance.
The subtle summer palette features a slew of sun-faded neutrals inspired by Mother Nature, such as sage green, pale rose and Cuban sand. The muted color scheme is only amplified by the slightly moodier moonlight blue, reminiscent of a warm summer’s night. The statement sartorial stripes are reinvigorated with new colors and widths, and in both a yarn-dyed and digital print version.
The strength of the SS18 collection lies in the street-meets-elite aesthetic, and the subsequent invitation to mix and match materials and styles to create layers of chic upon casual upon chic. The traditional cuts pave way for a more relaxed and oversized silhouette. Simplicity is at the heart of every piece, and the result is a collection that is not only feminine but also highly versatile. A range that retains the minimalistic and timeless Scandinavian style, with added elements and the highest quality organic materials.
The fabrics used are mostly GOTS-certified Aegean cotton, hand-picked to ensure premium quality. The sustainable UV-safe swimwear is made from recycled plastic bottles, and the digital prints are GOTS labeled guaranteeing that the colors used contain no harmful chemical residues.
Decoding Sustainable Fashion – What Does it Mean to You?
It can be daunting to know where to start when it comes to making more sustainable fashion choices. And in case you’re about to write this article off as frivolous, let me quickly tell you why this is such an important topic.
After grappling with this issue over the past few months, I’ve come to adopt a mishmash of values I believe to culminate in a holistic way.
I’ll admit, it’s not perfect, and what I was really hoping for when I started this journey, was a quick-step guide.
I wanted a surefire way to know I wasn’t contributing to unjust, unfair and unethical labour practices, and I wanted to know my fashion choices weren’t directly affecting the environment or harming animals too.
Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. The more I learned, the more confused I became.
When I started to reject leather, I quickly learned vegan alternatives can be highly toxic. As I started to become a more conscious consumer, I also started to question whether I should be rejecting my consumption habits entirely? (Answer: Yes)
But where did this leave me? While I wanted to stop buying all together, I couldn’t. Or I wouldn’t. So what I did, was work to understand a range of issues and find my own set of values to guide me.
What have I learned?
1) Buy less. Buy better. Recycle. Reuse. Yes, the real answer to sustainable fashion is glaringly obvious.
2) When you buy, choose natural fibres. That’s cotton, linen, wool, silk, hemp, or cashmere. Synthetic fabrics, or “plastic fabric” include polyester, rayon, modal, spandex and nylon. Not only do synthetic fibers require much higher energy use and crude oil, they’re toxic. Natural fibers also just feel better. Not to mention, because they’re plant materials, they decompose quickly while synthetic fibers – essentially plastic – do not.
3) Choose organic cotton – important for you, the environment, and workers. There are endless resources online making this case, but all you need to know is that conventional, cotton farms erode soil, waste water, use tons of energy and are incredibly toxic. If that’s not enough, you can read why non-organic cotton farms are directly linked to the high suicide rate of farmers in India.
4) It’s sometimes OK to use the “30 Wear Rule.” Ever so occasionally, I do buy fast fashion. I know! Terrible! Guilty! But I believe sustainability is also about wearability, and there’s no point buying something “good” that you’ll never wear. So, when I do, I always subscribe to Livia Firth’s “30 Wear Rule.” That means I commit to wearing a product at least 30 times and fight the trend towards “throwaway fashion.”
5) Embrace minimalism. It’s widely accepted that focussing on less, having less, and embracing less, gives you more. I recently watched the documentary “The Minimalists” and this made so much sense to me. In fashion, many are embracing this and promoting the “capsule” wardrobe. The focus here is on longevity, style, and quality – all good things to guide you.
6) Support brands that embrace sustainability at their core. While many major brands are making a move towards adopting more sustainable practices, and should be applauded for doing so, I like to support smaller brands driven by sustainable values. I’ve become familiar with a few such as as People Tree and Patagonia and I support outlets that curate these brands, and others, so I know who to trust. My favourites are Charlie + Mary, and Well Made Clothes.
Sustainable fashion is a term that means different things to different people. Progress is slow. And nobody knows this more than the team at Fashion Revolution, a global movement which campaigns for transparency in the supply chain following the tragic Rana Plaza collapse in 2013.
However, while the issues are widespread, and the solutions complex, I think we can celebrate the fact that the tide is turning, and brands, as well as consumers, are changing their ways.
Knowing where to start can be daunting, but starting is an important step.
NEIGHBOURHOOD is an awesome all organic gourmet pizza & cocktail bar and local hang-out, withvinyl tunes filling the air. This is a place where you want to hang out all night and both the pizza and cocktail menu are something special, we can highly recommend the pumpkin chorizo pizza and the Rhubarb rhapsody cocktail!
Whether you´re looking to be in the centre of Copenhagen or rather stay in the authentic Vesterbro area close to the trendy Meatpacking district (we would recommend this location!) there are 4 sustainable boutique hotels of the Guldsmeden chain Copenhagen. The Guldsmeden Hotels are Green Globe certified, which is one of the most exacting certifications available to the hospitality sector. The hotels have a super cosy bohemian feel and also serve delicious organic food & drinks in their hotel bars. A true home away from home!
In North India we visited the production partner of the newest brand in our agency portfolio, POPUPSHOP. We took the train from Delhi to Agra station from where it was about an hour drive to the Kishor factory.
Kishor exports is a family business founded in 1979 when Mr. Satish Agarwal and Mrs.Sneh Lata Agarwal, left the USA to settle down in India. Today their company is run by their son Mr. Deepak Agarwal, who showed us around the factory and proudly told us everything about the Kishor company.
Having lived in the US, the Kishor family realisess how important it is to have certifications. Even though it brings along a lot of adminitrative work and costs.
‘More importnatly we are a manufacturer & exporters of organic cotton clothing in India and we have been exporting to Europe since 1979. Our factory is a modern and sophisticated factory.’
Interesting is that Agra isn’t necessarily known for being a garment factoy area, there is actually more shoe manufacturing.
This means it isn’t the easiest to find a lot of skilled tailors, like in other areas in India for example.
‘But we think it is important to bring econimic benefits to this area, as well as fair and safe working conditions. Most of the tailors working in the factory have been with us for a long time’.
Mr. Deepak explains us that he and the company have a strong social comittment to serve the society. Therefore they are for example supporting the organization ‘TEARS’, a local Institute & Hostel for Mentally handicapped Children
He took us to the big school building where we met the teachers and the children. Mr. Deepak pasionately told us about the work of Tears and how important it is to support this beautiful initiative.
‘Love, care and protection are what these mentally handicapped children need as their toys, to bring back in to their lives the childhood joys.’
‘Another institute supported by Kishor is SEAM (Skills for Employment in Apparel Manufacturing), which is operated and supported by Kishor for skill enhancement & upliftment of women who are living in rural areas near to us.’
‘Here we give training to women from rural areas near by our factory and try to make them skilled workers for Apparel Manufacturing and later on we offer them a job opportunity in our company.
In this institute we provide good infrastructure, stitching machines &equipments, accommodation / hostel facility, meals and trained faculties.’
To see where the knitwear of the Studio JUX collections is made we visited their production partner in Kathmandu, where the kind manager Mr. Ram Singh showed us around the two factories. We spent the entire day with Tzering (the production manager of Studio JUX in Nepal) and Mr. Ram Singh, who patiently explained us everything we wanted to know about the production of knitted garments, organic cotton and the people working in the knitting factories.
All of those super soft organic cotton machine knits for the Studio JUX collections are made in the first factory we visited. We started on the ground floor with step 1; the knitting of the panels. The factory works with high tech knitting machines as well as hand knitting machines to knit the different panels of the garments. There are schedules for power network usage in Nepal, where certain areas can access the power network within certain time frames only. Therefore the factories need quite a bit of emergency power, which is provided more and more by solar panels in stead of batteries. Most of the factories we visited in Nepal and India are investing in sustainable energy.
When the panels are knitted on the high tech knitting machines only the yarns and patterns are manually put into the machines, whereas the hand knitting machines (mostly for the smaller orders and because they don’t need electricity!) are fully operated by people who move the machine from left to right and back again to knit the designed pattern.
For the next step we continued our way up to the first floor where the panels are linked together, a very precise job and this is where you see the amazing quality of the knitted Studio JUX pieces. It looks much nicer and creates a stronger product when the knitted panels are linked together and not sewn together.
The next steps are the finishings by hand, the washing, ironing, and a thorough quality check of the product. The raw material wouldn’t actually need any washing because there aren’t any chemicals used. ‘The products are only washed because so many hands touch the product on it’s way to the end of the production chain.’ Mr. Ram Singh explains.
The yarn which is used to produce those soft organic cotton fine knits in the Studio JUX collections is GOTS certified.
We also spotted the beautiful jacquard knits for the FW16 delivery ready to be shipped. Mr. Ram Singh tells us about the amount of work and material that goes into producing a cardigan like this – for the fishbone cardigan in the Studio JUX FW16 collection 8kg per piece is needed!
Mr. Ram Singh and his business partner run a second factory and this is where the hand knitted items of Studio JUX are made. We met a group of women gathered on the ground and chatting whilst hand knitting the more chunky styles. Often these hand knitted styles are made at the women’s homes. In this case the women pick up the material and design at the factory and finish the work at home so they can take care of their family at the same time.
It was great to visit the knitting factories in Kathmandu and to see the manufacturing process of knitted garments, learn more about organic cotton processing and chat about what makes a great quality knitted garment.
Interesting fact is that for the manufacturing of a garment made of organic cotton a longer lead time is required. Why? Because the organic cotton is always last in line at the spinning mills where the raw material is spun into yarns, and these yarns are needed to produce the rest of the product. Organic cotton is last in line because unfortunately these are still always the least amounts that need to be processed and the bigger amounts of conventional cotton go first. Let’s call it growth pain, as we’re buying into more organic cotton we are slowly moving forward in line…..
On our second day in Nepal we visited the Studio JUX factory in Kathmandu. We started our business about the same time as Jitske en Carlien (the ladies behind this Amsterdam based True Fashion label) and have been friends ever since, so we heard many interesting stories about running a business in Nepal. That’s why we were so inspired to visit the factory ourselves.
When Jitske (designer and founder of Studio JUX) set up the Studio JUX factory she and her boyfriend Philippe (a Belgium guy who grew up in Kathmandu and now the logistics manager of Studio JUX) lived in Kathmandu. Jitske used to manage the factory herself until they moved back to Amsterdam a few years ago – since then the factory is under Nepali management.
The second the taxi dropped us of in front of the all white factory we could already feel the Studio JUX vibe. The JUX factory is a 2 story building with a big roof terrace and a basement. We started with a coffee and tea in the conference room and had a nice chat with Rohit and Tzering, who both talked passionately about their work at Studio JUX. They also explained us a lot of interesting things about Nepali culture and how they actually created more of a Nepali/Dutch culture mix in the Studio JUX factory nowadays. ‘We learned to think in a Dutch way’. Tzering has been with Studio JUX for 5 years and is responsible for the production management. When she first set foot in the Studio JUX factory (which was then located somewhere else in Kathmandu) she was shocked by how clean the factory was. The topic of cleanliness and how nice it is to work in a clean environment came back several times in our conversations. And we have to say the factory is spic and span – we should really tidy our showroom as well when we get back! Jitske did such an awesome job in bringing the benefits of a clear and clean working environment to Nepal. ‘We’re sort of a Dutch company in Nepal’ Tzering explains. ‘And I am very thankful for Jitske to teach us to think in a Dutch way. She and Phil really learned us how to handle and spend money and how to work with people. From our side we try to learn this to the people who work in the factory as well.’ In Nepal it is not so common to think about the future. People really live in the moment. We try to teach to the people to also save some of their salary for the future and not spent everything at once. In Nepal you have to calculate a margin to be in time for appointments, for production – for everything basically. For Nepali people it is really difficult to be in time but we manage quite well here in the factory. People are paid a decent salary and we have fixed working hours and breaks, and we have to get our orders ready in time of course. ‘We sometimes make jokes about it, with the sampling for example. We say it needs to be done in Holland time, not Nepali time – which means it needs to be done a lot quicker.’ Tzering is a very funny lady and we can tell they are having a lot of fun in running the Studio JUX factory, but both her and Rohit are very serious as well. ‘The work needs to be done in time and we supply the best quality garments in Nepal’ Tzering explains. It was really nice to hear and see that the people in the factory are as proud to work for Studio JUX as we are. Tzering told us how much she appreciates the way her company helped the people in Nepal after the Earthquake. Jitske and Phil flew to Nepal as soon as they could after they heard about the devastating Earthquake that hit Nepal in April 2015. ‘They even helped other factories. It is really great to be working for a company which is always willing to help.’ When we asked Tzering how she felt about the Studio JUX handshake where people who buy something from the Studio JUX collection can meet the tailor who made it on the Studio JUX website, Tzering said she was really proud. ‘I could spend days just looking at our website, it looks so cool. And I show it to the tailors and tell them they are famous. They like that a lot!’ Nobody said it was easy, and running a business in Nepal is everything but! A fashion business like Studio JUX needs to import (e.g. fabrics) and export goods (e.g. shippings to our Benelux customers), which is a struggle in Nepal as every now and then there are import and/or export restrictions and complicated paperwork. It is also hard to find skilled tailors in Nepal. One of the reasons for this is that a lot of young people tend to move to the Golf countries as they see more job opportunities for themselves there than in Nepal. Then there is the electricity scarcity, which the factory is solving sustainably by placing solar panels on the roof. Three solar panels have been installed on the roof already and in the future there will be enough to provide the entire factory with sufficient electricity. In the last 10 years around 60 to 70% of the factories in Nepal have closed their doors because of the country’s challenging conditions. But Studio JUX has been determined since the beginning to have their company succeed – for the people they came to love so much in Nepal and the importance of bringing business and opportunities there. The Studio JUX factory felt like a big family, one where people work hard to create a high quality beautiful product. Like every family they have an uncle (that’s how they call the man who always wears a stylish suit and teaches his super skills to the others) a granny (a lady who has been working in the factory since the beginning, looks impeccable and tells the others to keep their workspace clean) and loving parents (the management taking care of everyone). In this JUX family everyone is equal. Like Tiering said; ‘We don’t care about cast or religion, we are all the same. Also when men want to work here we ask them if they are fine when they are asked to do something by a woman’. We asked Tzering and Rohid what they would like to say to the people back home. ‘We make high quality fashion collections and we want to make the customers happy as they make us happy as well! If they are not buying, there wouldn’t be a factory either. By buying a Studio JUX piece you’re not just buying that single item, you are also providing work for 5 to 6 people in our factory. With having a factory in Nepal, Studio JUX helps the people in Nepal. A big thank you to all the Studio JUX supporters.’