Interview with Bronwyn
Lowie turns 16 this week so we thought we should look back and share some of the history and mind behind the brand. We sat down with Bronwyn and April the cockapoo over a cup of tea.
Likes to start her day by: 5 minute yoga stretch, after my dog April comes and wakes me up at 6.30 and we have a cuddle!
Drinks: Chai Tea with 1 sugar
Eats: Banana, spinach and peanut butter smoothie with almond milk
Listens to: Radio 6
What are you currently reading: I’m a bad reader actually, but currently I’m getting through Lucy Siegle 'Turning the tide on plastic’
What inspired you to start your brand
When I first left Australia to go travelling, I flew to Bali and went straight to Ubud which is in the centre of Bali and known for it’s beauty and crafts. I met a really nice hippy bloke with big flesh holes in his ears and wearing a sarong, and he was really into his handicrafts, so naturally I spent 10 wonderful days hanging out with him looking at handicrafts in Bali. After this we went our separate ways but I had seen many amazing things, from traditional Lontar Weaving, to a man with a beard down to his belly button that made Jew’s Harps. We really got away from the tourists and dived deep into the culture. This experience set a precedence for the rest of my travels. I was susceptible to have an interest in hand crafts, but that really cemented it.
I then went on a trip to turkey with a friend and brought back a whole load of turkish hand knitted socks and gave them to my friends. One friend wore them for 10 day straight because she loved them so much, so I thought maybe this is a winning product!
How did you start Lowie?
After I got made redundant I thought, ok, now is the time, I want to start my own thing. I went back to Turkey, to Izmir, where I somehow found this British consulate, and thought, I wonder if they can help me? I walked in and told them what I was trying to do, and miraculously they found me a lovely British man called Ken who helped me find someone to do the hand knitting. He introduced me to these remarkable ladies on the outskirts of Izmir who were unable to work because they either had children or commitments to their homes. They were however able to knit in their own homes, and so we could provide them with employment whilst they could provide us with the lovable socks! It was a match made in heaven. I then started selling the socks to House of Fraser and Topshop and it grew from there.
I was always going to work in fashion, that was my calling. My parents are Australian but in the 60’s they travelled for a year (also starting in Bali) through South East Asia, even during the Vietnam war. My dad was writing travel articles every week and sending them back to a local paper in Australia. They once got arrested in Iran because the government thought they were spies, so they had lots of adventures! After this they ended up spending 7 years in London, and I was born here. I moved back to Australia when I was 3 but I still remember living in the UK at that time. I remember once my dad ran over my special chair with his motorbike, and another time the keys were locked inside the house and I had to crawl through the bathroom window to let everyone in, and the joy of playing bump down the stairs. So London is a special place for me, but it’s also quite normal for Australians to come to the UK in their 20’s with dreams of earning enough money to return after a year with a deposit for a house...a total myth. I was 28 when I came back to London, after my travels, and I ended up staying.
What do you find most exciting about your brand?
Bright colours, we love colour here! The hand craft elements, and the interesting print. And of course, knit wear! We try and get elements of craft in every range, for example hand stitching and crocheting. I’m inspired by traditions and I love translating these into cool clothes that everyone enjoys wearing. Everybody wants to feel good, and if I can make clothes that make people feel their best then that makes me happy.
If you could change one thing about fashion in London what would it be?
Impulse buying! I would love for people to think more about what they are buying so their clothes had more longevity. Buying real high quality clothing that you will love forever means less will end up in land fill, and we can do our little bit for the planet. I also think repairing things is so important, that once damaged all is not lost. That’s why at Lowie we offer a free repair service for all clothes you buy with us, to help them stay in your wardrobe and be loved forever.
What is your favourite ever Lowie piece?
It’s hard to choose! But I would say the hand knitted merino rose collection. I just love the colours and the vibe. I also love my tiger print jumpsuit. It’s a wonderful and classic piece that is so unique, and our community loved it!
What are your plans for the future?
My focus now is on really engaging the Lowie community, sharing stories and inspirations and spreading the word about the everlasting love for your garments. We are going to start doing loads of craft workshops in the Crystal Palace store so people can come and learn new skills and have some fun! I would also love to open more stores when I can find the right location (invites welcome!), and of course that precious little thing called time. Stay tuned everyone, and see you soon!