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Jungle Folk: Handmade with Care
Written by Giorgia von Niederhäusern - Sunday, 19 January 2014



Jungle Folk is a young Swiss-Colombian women’s fashion label offering limited edition styles, which are sustainably produced in Medellin, Colombia. The Jungle Folk team experiments with feminine shapes, adding touches of street wear. All Jungle Folk styles are hand-made by artisans.

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Pauline Treis, owner of Jungle Folk:

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

PT: 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 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.



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

PT: 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.

EFW: Very often, when people think of sustainable fashion, they either think about someone wearing old slip-ons and an 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?

PT: 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. 


EFW: How has sustainable fashion been evolving up to now? How do you see 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?

PT: 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. A large part of 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 does not always quickly translate into 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.



EFW: 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?

PT: Jungle Folk aims to clothe 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 with 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!

EFW: You just opened La Casa Temporal in Zurich. Would you like to tell us something about the event?

PT: The opening consisted of 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!



EFW: Where else is Jungle Folk available?

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

EFW: What are the next goals and dreams for the brand?

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

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

PT: Go for it! Follow your heart! Exchange ideas! Enter into collaborations! A lot has been done but there is still a lot to be done. Bring energy, inspiration and ideas to it!




Swiss scuppie with a deep interest for aesthetics and sustainability, Giorgia von Niederhäusern studied Italian and English literature and linguistics at the University of Zurich, where she now lives. From 2009 she has her own blog GvN Style Blog.






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