Inspired by the natural world around them, this dynamic duo are giving new meaning to clothing we take for granted. Seeped in stories and ancient philosophy, Phil&Lui’s garments are both versatile and urge us to think beyond the surface
Sublime: Who are Phil&Lui and what inspired you to create this unique brand?
Phil&Lui: We are Philipp and Luisa and our label Phil&Lui is a sustainable fashion brand based in Munich, Germany. After Lui studied Fashion Design and I studied Sinology, we decided to combine our skills and passion and create a brand that reflected this. Meanwhile, we have been a couple for six years now and have developed a true determination to establish sustainable fashion in today’s world. Making people aware of what they wear has been a big part of our inspiration all along.
S: What challenges did you face during the initial set-up and development of your company?
P&L: Since we literally do everything by ourselves it is absolutely mandatory to work according to a well-structured schedule and at the same time leave enough flexibility to adapt to unforeseen events and developments. It is a challenge for every young label to get a foothold in an industry that is defined by seasonal output and large-scale production. For us, communication and reliability is key to internal success.
S: What is the basis of your philosophy? How does it differ to that of other fashion companies in the market?
P&L: We do not want to sell mere apparel. We want people to be a part of the story behind the making. We want to give them the opportunity to understand where our designs come from and we consider this a much more involving and interactive approach. Sustainability not only refers to the manner in which products are manufactured but also the values that should be attached to their existence.
S: Has travelling served as inspiration for your work?
P&L: We have been to plenty of places and all of them have their own vibe and charisma. But it’s not only about destinations. Instead it’s more about local lifestyles, accordance to nature and the freedom of perception. It’s quite simple – as soon as you look close enough there is a lot more to be seen no matter where you go.
S: In what way do your garments benefit people’s well-being?
P&L: Our designs are all about details. Our first release shirt for instance is a reversible unisex shirt, a combination of denim and jersey. It has several prints, rivets, hanger loops and rather complicated seams that enable you to wear it on both sides. Just like we look close for the details surrounding us, the carrier of our designs shall be encouraged to search and look closely for the details we implement in our garments.
We also see it as our personal obligation to raise people’s awareness of what they wear on a daily basis. Manufacturing according to the guidelines of the GOTS-certificate includes for instance, the reduced usage of chemicals during processing, wastewater treatment, water-based colors and compliance with social and labor rights. It’s a huge topic and there is a lot to learn. That’s why we would always encourage everyone to take some time and inform themselves about the clothes they wear casually, almost like a second skin. So we not only provide people with high-end apparel, but also with a clean conscience.
S: Since when has sustainability been an important factor in your lives?
P&L: Sustainability has been part of our lives for quite some time now. Lui for instance went to a Waldorf school, a school with a humanistic approach emphasizing the role of imagination in learning. We think that sustainability is a matter of critical awareness – asking the right questions in order to gain a better understanding.
S: Tell us about your design and manufacturing process.
P&L: Again, it’s all about the details. We start with visuals and get hold of a mood that expresses a certain feeling. Based on this feeling we create a written philosophy to explain the origin. Finally comes the design that mirrors the message from an apparel point of view.
The fact that our ‘Blue Effect’ release shirt is unisex and reversible at the same time makes it kind of unique. It has several more features that make you want to look for the details. You should have one because you can choose the way you wear it according to the way you feel. Keep it simple and straight with the plain side or give it more movement and structure with the print side. Having the philosophy in place means that our ‘Blue Effect’ shirt is more of a statement than a simple piece of cloth.
S: What changes you would like to see in your industry?
P&L: Above all we would like to see the big global players truly acknowledge their social and environmental responsibility. They have real power to put forth vast and instant change. Instead of trying to achieve the cheapest possible price and thereby crucially harming the environment and exploiting human recourses, they should utilize their global influence to develop new approaches and reconsider the misleading consumption habits the fashion industry suggests.
S: What does Phil & Lui care about the most?
P&L: We care most about creating a mutual spirit, a common sense and a rising awareness of who we are and what we essentially rely on. We aim at supporting each other and creating something big through teamwork.
Our recent fashion editorial shoot with London-based photographer Adrenus Craton is the perfect example of this. Besides her expertise as a fashion photographer, she founded the model agency Novemodels Elite, which focuses on working with brands that emphasise sustainability and ethical fashion as well as social and environmental commitment. Having the opportunity to collaborate with companies that share or values is truly inspiring.
We are driven by the imagination of a borderless and creative think tank. We love the energy that emerges from truly unique collaborations, connecting ideas and realizing creative potential. In the future we hope to have the capacity to reinforce somewhat forgotten values.
S: What can you tell us about your plans for the future?
P&L: We will indeed be releasing new styles within the next two months, a series of basics which we hope have the potential to become people’s all time favorites.