By Noemi Plaza & Daisy Wallis
The impact our clothes have on the planet continues to be an important discussion that needs to be addressed on a global scale. Global conversations at Fashion Revolution Week and Earth Day, as well as the impact of the pandemic, have highlighted a real need for immediate change and action across the supply chain right down to the consumer.
But also at the heart of this brand, is a story of family and sisterhood. Julie and Marie have turned their sustainable upbringing into a brand that looks to create beautiful designs that respect and celebrate Mother Nature.
Our founder, Noemi, joined Julie and Marie virtually in their Copenhagen studio to learn more about their slow approach to fashion, sustainability and the importance of family and sisterhood at Skall Studio.
Thank you for speaking with us today! We love the story behind your brand and your emphasis on caring for the environment. How and when did you first come up with the idea of creating Skall Studio?
Julie: Our mother actually works in the fashion industry, so we grew up with it. And I guess it’s always been a talk across the dining table, that one day we would create our own brand, our own family.
“I mean very, very early [on] we both knew that we also wanted to go in that direction and work with clothing.”
Our mother is also a board member at Skall Studio and she has definitely helped us from the very beginning. Skall Studio is definitely a family thing!
That’s amazing, so fashion design is definitely in your blood?
Marie: Yes actually!
And you have spoken before about your sustainable lifestyle and how this was influenced by your childhood. How did your upbringing help shape the core values of Skall Studio?
Julie: Our father has had a big impact actually. He has a passion for vintage cars and motorcycles and has always worked on them. He always said to us how it’s very important to do your very best at everything that you do.
Marie: And also to make sure that you take time in creating or building something.
Julie: “So I think that’s something that we have taken with us…Just to take our time with everything that we do. So every time we create a new collection, or a new dress or shirt, we always try to really do our very best and take the time needed to create what we believe is the best product… there are no fast solutions. It’s about creating something with value.”
That’s so interesting! Slow fashion is clearly at the core of Skall and you can really see that. And what is it like creating and running a brand with your family?
Julie: And we know each other really well so we can speak freely with each other. We think it’s wonderful.
That’s so beautiful to hear. And so was this idea of creating a sense of family and community across your whole brand important to you from the very beginning?
Julie: It was very, very important to us. When we were creating Skall, we never dreamt of creating a company for the money or success.
“For us, it’s more about doing what we love and the dream is to wake up every day and do what we love to do… everything we do comes from our heart and I think when you work like that, it’s just very important that the people that you work with feel the same way.”
We both lived and worked in India for some time, and we have worked with the same people in India for many, many years. We definitely consider them our friends and our family.
And has the pandemic affected how you work with the wider Skall Studio family?
Julie: We try to keep a close connection with everyone involved in Skall Studio and involve everyone in all of the processes too. We haven’t been able to travel for quite some time.
We can’t wait to go back to normal too. And we also love your Skall letters, where you feature stories from inspiring women on topics like sisterhood, motherhood and sustainability. Why was it important for you to connect with your community in this way?
Julie: I think the idea for the Skall letters came up almost three or four years ago. At the time, everyone was really starting to expand their social media marketing and involve a lot of paid collaborations with influencers. We wanted to come up with something that fits our values. We didn’t feel right about just paying people to wear Skall and post it on Instagram. It didn’t feel true to us or our brand.
So we came up with Skall letters where we could share the stories of the people we know and are inspired by. We want to show our customers real people in Skall and I think it is easier for our customers to relate to these people. It is definitely important for us, that you can see our personality and values in everything we do.
I think that is definitely the vibe you get. I really love them! And do you think there are any other ways you might want to connect with your community?
Marie: I think we definitely want to expand our online content. Julie and I want to be closer to our customers and I think we have really seen that recently with our digital presentations.
Have you enjoyed the digital process? I have seen your presentations at the last two Copenhagen Fashion Weeks and loved them, how did you find that?
Julie: I think it is amazing to see how far everything has come. With our latest presentations, we have been able to reach more people from all over the world and that’s quite amazing! To be able to make these new connections and ‘meet’ these new people through our digital channels has been really exciting.
Noemi: And so talking about your latest collection, we love how your collections revolve around natural materials like organic cottons and wools in beautiful neutral colour palettes. What do you look for when looking for natural materials in your collections?
Julie: We look for a lot of things when it comes to materials, but we really focus on the look and feel of them. Of course, for each material, we also have certain qualities that we insist on.
Whenever we use cotton, for example, it has to be organic. We have been working with only GOTS certified organic cotton for several years and we are currently in the process of getting Skall Studio certified too. For our linens, we look for materials that have a bit more structure. We also look for organic linen which is a bit more difficult to find. We work with a lot of wool too. We are both vegetarian and don’t own any skins or leathers, so it’s important to us that all the wool we use is also certified.
Noemi: And do you have any favourites?
Marie: We love linen!
Julie: “We actually develop a lot of our own fabrics. So whenever we do like a stripe or check, we make our own design and then develop the fabric in cooperation with our supplier. So we really like that, that process of creating own fabrics.”
That’s incredible! And we are also seeing more and more developments in more sustainable materials. What do you think of these? And would you ever consider using these in your collections?
Julie: We are very interested in these new fabrics. We really look into recycled materials but, again, with an emphasis on the natural. We have recently started working with recycled cashmere and we are always asking our suppliers if they have any recycled materials, especially hemp. It is definitely something we really believe in.
Marie: And we think it’s just so important to look into using and incorporating these new materials into our work as well for the future.
Definitely, as you say for the future, instead of taking resources from the Earth we can definitely use what we already have.
Marie: Yes, exactly. We also work with some deadstock fabrics for our website.
Julie: As well as the recycled materials, we always try to see if there are any materials that we can use that have already been produced, and perhaps been rejected by another brand or designer.
“We feel actually that this is the most sustainable fabric choice – to use something that is already there.”
We made a wool coat this winter from leftover fabric and only made 50 pieces which sold out in a week. I think working with deadstock in these limited runs definitely makes each piece more special.
That’s so good to hear. And what are you working on now?
Marie: We are actually working on a new home collection which is really exciting as we love homeware and home textiles.
Julie: The collection is mostly home textiles, like pillowcases, bed lines and tableware but also some loungewear too. It’s the products that we would like to add to our collection and brand. We love home textiles and in the past, if we needed a new pillow we would always use our fabrics to sew our own!
I can’t wait to see that, I love home textiles too. What hopes do you have for Skall Studio?
Julie: We hope that the brand will continue to grow positively and expand in our own slow way. We have so many dreams for the future of Skall, from our collections to our team to grow our presence around the world.
We are also looking to expand our store in Copenhagen and open a new flagship store!
That’s exciting! And what about the wider fashion industry? What are your hopes for the industry in the next 5 years?
Julie: I think we are seeing a lot more brands working towards more sustainable choices which we really like and encourage. But I think it takes a lot more to actually change the industry as a whole. We have to see some bigger changes in mindset with the bigger companies. We need to change the way we produce, as we are still producing far too much and in such poor quality too.
And what do you think of the misleading use of the word “sustainable”? I see brands that are calling themselves sustainable because they produce locally but in reality, they actually use nylons and polyesters.
At Skall, we are working a lot on documenting everything that we do and tracing every step in our supply chain. We want our customers and our Skall family to be able to go back to each step and see where or what is going on and who is creating our garments and products.
That is incredible and I know it is such hard work to get these certifications. Thank you for talking with us today and sharing with us even more about the Skall Studio family!
We love Skall Studio’s emphasis on natural materials and loved hearing even more about the wonderful story of family and sisterhood rooted at the very heart of the brand. It is so inspiring to hear how Julie and Marie have created their own brand, and global family, all centred on their love of the natural world.
From their digital shows at Copenhagen Fashion Week to their latest venture into home textiles, it is so exciting to see how Julie and Marie are still seeking out the latest innovations in sustainable fabrics and design. We cannot wait to see what is next from Skall Studio and how Julie and Marie’s emphasis on nature and family continues to blossom and grow!
This interview has been shortened and edited by Daisy Wallis.