As brands within the fashion industry work to become more inclusive—whether it’s focused on sizing, ethnicity, or gender — creating garments designed to fit a diverse range of bodies becomes one of the main focal points. For Poplinen, it’s the top priority. The direct-to-consumer Los Angeles-based brand uses a special Find Your Size tool on its website, making it easier for its customers to find the best-fitting size, depending on their measurements and preferred fit. All the while, Poplinen focuses on using eco-friendly and sustainable textiles in its pieces.
Read more about how Desiree Buchanan, Poplinen’s founder, decided to create her brand and what to expect from the label next.
Tell us about your background and how the idea to start Poplinen came about.
Before starting Poplinen, I was cutting my teeth in the editorial departments of Vanity Fair and Architectural Digest. As the magazine world of NYC was changing, I decided to try something new—I joined the retail and social media teams of Warby Parker. Eventually, I moved back to LA and began working for another start-up The Black Tux, leading their Communications team. During my career journey, I started making my own tops out of high quality, eco-friendly fabrics that were comfortable without compromising on style. As someone who spent all her 20’s working in editorial and brand marketing; I saw a true business opportunity to launch Poplinen as a direct-to-consumer brand dedicated to creating simple, stylish clothing out of premium fabrics that women felt great in all year round. Long story short, I left my day job and started working on this full time in the winter of 2018.
Poplinen creatives eco-friendly, body-positive pieces for all ethnicities. What was the process behind developing these pieces?
I started Poplinen to reimagine the way women shop for clothing. For a long time women have shopped in this segregated way depending on their body size. Poplinen’s purpose is to celebrate women in all our beautiful shapes and sizes by offering premium, everyday essentials in eco-friendly fabrics. We currently offer sizes XS-3X and our goal is to continue to add more sizes (including petites) as we grow.
We have to be very thoughtful and intentional about the styles we offer. For every new design, we create two patterns (one for our contemporary fit and one for our curvy fit) in order to ensure the best fit for every size we offer.
We also ensure all our content reflects a diverse group of women. I am a woman of color, and for a long time felt like there wasn’t a brand that represented me. I want women from different backgrounds to feel they can find a part of themselves in Poplinen, whether that’s through our values, message, or offerings.
Your company also uses a special program to determine the right fit for your customer. Was there a specific technology that went behind this? How does this program figure out the right sizing?
I am pleased to share Poplinen offers a Find Your Size tool which is featured on every product page of our website. It’s essentially an algorithm that helps women find their right size with us. It’s a technology feature that incorporates our size chart, customer data, and machine learning to offer size recommendations based on a few details they share (ie height, weight, and bust size). It’s a useful way for us to build trust with potential customers who are unsure of our fit and an effective way to reduce returns and exchanges.
Tell us about the materials you're using in your pieces.
I have made a commitment to only use eco-friendly and sustainable textiles including Organic Linen, Organic Cotton, Tencel, Bamboo, and some dead stock, which are premium in feel and drape. The goal is for these pieces to be a part of your wardrobe for years to come. Our prices are a bit higher because of this commitment to better quality and being made in America. By being transparent, offering modern essentials, and driving home the message of sustainability and inclusivity, we’re hoping to build lifetime trust and brand affinity with the customer.
Where are these materials sourced from and how are they produced?
Almost all of our fabrics are sourced from a supplier who specializes in sustainable and natural textiles with low minimums. We also hit up local dead stock suppliers occasionally like Ragfinders in DTLA for unique fabrics that have been discarded. I am proud to say all our styles are made locally in Downtown Los Angeles. We pay a living wage to our sewers and work with a great production company that really understands the needs of a small business.
Currently, Poplinen is offering tops—are there any plans to expand into other areas of fashion?
This is a very exciting question for me because there are definite plans to expand into other areas including jackets, jumpsuits and bottoms. At this moment, we’re focused on refining our fit and thoughtfully building out our evergreen collection of tops before we move to the next category. Stay tuned for that!
Images: Courtesy of Poplinen