Chopova Lowena, the London-based company established in 2018 by Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena, offers a pleated skirt that trend forecaster Mandy Lee has been searching for since 2019. Three years later, Lee, who also has over 300,000 followers on TikTok, has acquired a number of pieces from the brand, including the characteristic skirt, which is distinguished by clashing designs and safety pins fastening the cloth to a thick leather belt. She has also gushed about the items on TikTok.
In addition to posting videos discussing the brand’s punk schoolgirl aesthetic and backstory, showing their hauls, and sharing advice on how to find the best deals for their pieces, particularly their A-line skirts, Lee is one of the many creators who have contributed to the hashtag #chopovalowena growing over 11 million views on the app. Other users, such Eve-Lily and Summer Rachel Warren, have produced films outlining how to work the avant-garde item into their regular ensembles.
When Refinery29 asks Laura Lowena about the popularity of the skirt, she responds, “I guess people haven’t seen the clothing moving so much.” “I believe that perhaps people have really gotten into it by watching the action and seeing individuals in it [on the app.]”
The Chopova Lowena skirts are made from secondhand fabric purchased from markets in Bulgaria. Chopova’s parents are from Bulgaria, where traditional dress is popular, and ’80s rock. Celebrities including Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo, and Emma Corrin have rocked the trendy look in recent months, giving the once-unknown designers A-list endorsement. Despite being difficult to locate and pricey (some can cost between $1,000 and $1,500), the skirts, which come in both short and long variants, have become into a “if you know, you know” must-have for fashion people on TikTok and in real life.
On TikTok, writer and designer Kristen Bateman, who has a long history of collecting Chopova Lowena pieces, gushed about the company’s skirts, saying that they “are so distinctive and kind of seem like costumes in a way.” It was unlike anything I had ever seen. She is not alone; when Bateman wears them outside of New York City or in a context related to fashion, she remarks that “it’s a pretty interesting experience,” alluding to the glances she receives. But according to Bateman, the reason the skirts are so well-liked on TikTok is because of their unusual construction, which elicits both confusion and interest.
Despite this, it’s still astonishing that a skirt this pricey has gained popularity on a website that is better recognised for fast-fashion finds and inexpensive vintage finds than designer clothing.
This comes down to visual appeal for both Lee and Bateman: The Chopova Lowena skirts have established a place in the market for fashion enthusiasts who want to capitalise on these trends with an edge made for the “Weird Girl” aesthetic era, in a time when early 2000s aesthetics have given rise to skin-baring trends like thong pants and micro mini skirts, as well as collegiate trends like pleated skirts and Mary Janes.
A bonus is that the brand’s homage to ’80s and ’90s rock, as evident in the use of leather belts, safety pins, studs, and DIY aesthetics, aligns with the revival of pop-punk style, which has turned TikTok sensations Dua Lipa and Olivia Rodrigo into A-list admirers of the designer duo.
Lee claims to have had success locating the skirts on Vestiaire Collective, an online marketplace for pre-owned goods, where she has purchased items that were, in her opinion, four times less expensive than the suggested retail price. Bateman purchased hers secondhand as well, albeit it was before the brand gained enormous prominence.
Despite being expensive and more of statement items than anything you could wear frequently, according to Bateman, the skirts are worth the price. When compared to holding the item in your hands, appreciating its quality, and wearing it, she argues, viewing fashion on TikTok is a very different experience. It certainly qualifies as a conversation skirt.