Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jungle Folk - The Interview

Jungle Folk 2

After visiting La Casa Temporal, the pop-up store of the upcoming sustainable Swiss brand Jungle Folk I had the chance to interview Pauline, starter, owner and CEO of the brand, about her projekts, goals, beliefs, and view on sustainable fashion and its role in the fashion industry.   


How did your Swiss-Columbian adventure start? What is the story behind Jungle Folk? Also: how did you decide to create an ecologically conscious brand?

It all started form a trip to that beautiful country that is Colombia. Inspired by the rich traditional arts and crafts, the new forms, colors and techniques I decided to start with a first smaller collection. 
Before that, I had studied international relations in Geneva and Berlin. Transnational relations, humanitarian movements, the gap between rich and poor, and environmental pollution through men’s ado have always touched me. I wanted to do something new, something creative, and provide an alternative to mass production.

As a sustainable brand, what is your policy? How do you manage to be ecological?

I personally know all my suppliers and employees. I can tell you exactly who sewed, cut and colored each and every single piece of my collection. Through artisan skills and weaving techniques I then handle the materials that I buy and create new kinds of fabrics with which I create the clothes. All fabrics that I purchase are certified by GOTS, a strict ecologic and fair-trade label.
Thanks to the size of the company, it is possible to keep the overview on every aspect of it. Also, the concept of producing in small quantities makes Jungle Folk an exclusive and unique brand. 

Very often, when people think of sustainable fashion, they either think about someone wearing old slip-ons and XXL T-Shirt with some 'save the forest' statement printed on it or very expensive handicraft items that only a few people can afford. Is this kind of view on ecofashion an issue at all for your brand? What do you do about it?

I try to find a fusion of sustainability and modern, minimal design. The manufacture of ecological clothes does not have to mirror the biased idea of hippie. That is what Jungle Folk shows. Our claim for design and fashion is very high and we want to inspire even people who have no interest in sustainability to buy our clothes.
To develop awareness of the influence that we have on other men and the environment, of our responsibility, and the consequences of our behavior is one of Jungle Folk’s goals.

How has been sustainable fashion evolving up to now? What is its status in the fashion business and in the eyes of the consumer? What is your perspective on its development and what do you see in the future of this particular branch of the fashion industry?

Little by little, there is a major consciousness and the market adapts to it. At the same time, the demand for ecological fashion is not very high and it is not comparable to the developments we had in the organic food industry, for instance. Although we daily wear clothes which are in direct contact with our skin, only a few think about the chemicals in our apparel and their impact. For example, often enough coloration is made with heavy metals, something highly dangerous for our health. Jungle Folk uses only “low impact dyes”, which are free from such substances.
I don’t think that the trend for sustainable fashion is growing so much that the whole fashion industry is going to act accordingly to ecological rules in the short run. The production is based on exploitation of cheap and dirty fabrics and it provides huge profits. Everyone contributes to this by purchasing cheaply produced products. Sadly, consciousness not always traduces in action. Often the short term situation, a mood, or a bad day can impact customers and make them run to the next department store to buy whatever clothes without thinking about what is behind these pieces.

Tell us something about the collections you create. Where do you find your inspiration? How do you describe your pieces and what kind of woman do you address?
Jungle Folk aims at a confident, independent woman who likes to wear unique pieces. Fashion is often a trend phenomenon, but clothes are the second skin of a person and affect their appearance in others’ eyes. In Jungle Folk, one should feel different and good. The clothes are made from beautiful, high-quality fabrics, feminine and simple cuts that are very wearable and are high-class thanks to their workmanship’s little details. Inspiration is everywhere, on the street, in nature, architecture, a hairstyle, a river, a chair, emotions, colors. Jungle Folk is a unit and wants to show it through concept, style and presentation. By wearing one of our pieces one becomes part of the Jungle Folk community to which everyone is welcome!

You just opened La Casa Temporal in Zurich. Would you like to tell something about the event?
The opening was a wonderful afternoon with a concert, great drinks, sun, and old and new friends. La Casa Temporal is a place that invites you to linger. We want to be more than just a shop, you can come to exchange ideas and relax, we offer coffee and cakes and like to sit down with all interested guests. During the six months we will be staying at La Casa Temporal we will organize several events. The program is coming soon!

-1 Where else is Jungle Folk available? Where can people find your clothes?

We are online and thus always reachable, be it to buy a piece of clothing or to ask questions. Two beautiful stores in Basel are also selling our clothes: Riviera and Westen.

What are the next goals and dreams for the brand?

We are launching our first winter collection this fall. We are so happy about it and exited for the feedbacks to come. The creation of new ideas, designs, events, shows, the establishment of the brand in selected boutiques and for customers who really know how to treasure it all are our nearest goals.

What would you suggest to other creative and enterprising people who would like to start a business in sustainable fashion?

Go for it! Follow your heart! Exchange ideas! Enter collaborations! There has been done a lot already and there is still a lot to be done. Bring energy, inspiration and ideas to it!

Jungle Folk 6
SS2013 Campaign Shootings by Felipe Cuartas
"behind the scenes" pictures by Jayme Gershen

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