Winter Woolies

This is a story of kindred spirits who uncannily lived very similar lives before meeting each other. Lola and Isabel loved snowboarding, surfing and vintage clothing before fate brought them together in the Algarve to create Lolabel – a vintage clothing company curated by two passionate women on the west coast of Portugal.

I feel a chill – my senses heighten. Visual imagery tricks me into thinking it›s five degrees Celsius. Realistically, I need to put a two in front of that figure, but my wild imagination keeps me chilled to the bone. For once, I want to be cold, just to be able to snuggle up and be comforted by the woollens on display in scenes that have been set up to resemble Scottish highlands but are actually shot right here in the Algarve. 

Barren sepia landscapes tinged with shades of drowned-out aquamarine, blue and grey hues showcase the beautiful vintage collection of secondhand cardigans displayed on their Instagram feed.

Originally from Spain, Lola lived in Lake Tahoe and started her own brand called LaLola baskets. After leaving California, she decided that Portugal gave her and her carpenter husband a more serene and nature-based life with similarities to the Californian surf culture they were accustomed to, but closer to home. 

Isabel, originally from Switzerland, travelled extensively during her early 20s after finishing a business degree that specialised in publishing. She then attended film school in Paris in 2010, where she worked with directors like Luc Besson, director of the film Leon

Isabel continues to produce her own travel magazine in Switzerland called Spot, while married to a writer and photographer. They relocated to the western Algarve to experience a more authentic off-grid life, especially now that they have two children.

Isabel and Lola were wearing similar clothes when they first got to know each other, which sparked conversations about vintage fashion. Their union made them realise that they needed to capitalise on their love of this by skillfully using technology to get their idea off the ground.

Lola and Isabel strongly believe that we should consign fast fashion to history. Although cheap and affordable, these garments are often made in sweatshops where workers endure inhumane working conditions. Clothing trends change quickly, so clothes are often discarded after a few uses. The materials are cheap and generally end up in textile landfills. 

Vintage fashion is sustainable, and most, but not all, are made with natural materials like linen and wool. Many items can be salvaged and reused for years. Lolabel will only source garments made out of natural fabrics. Isabel tells me, “this is an essential part of what Lolabel is”. 

Lolabel was launched in Isabel’s garden in the autumn of 2021, with champagne and food to accompany the beautiful collection – which sold out on the day. Word of mouth then worked its magic; subsequently, their pop-up shops around the Western Algarve have been an enormous success. 

Right on point for the changing trends towards fashion, Lola and Isabel used their past skills to slowly and patiently curate a collection to present to their clients online. They marketed it via a drop shopping method – a kind of auction where the first person to bid on an item gets first dibs. Enticing customers with different, atmospheric and thoughtfully art-directed shots of their products, they sold out within eight minutes when they first went live in January of 2022. 

Needless to say, they have been using a similar technique nearly every month and are now international vintage clothing sellers, sending beautifully sourced clothes to overseas markets like Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the US. All within a year of setting up!

The lockdown period during COVID, allowed them the time to slowly – and they are very adamant about being slow and patient – source the clothes they wanted to showcase from around the world. The experience of shoppers during lockdown armed them with the knowledge that the world was now much more tech-savvy. Customers were more willing to shop online and preferred to, so the entrepreneurs had a hunch that their online drop shop experience would be successful.

Here in Aljezur, they appear on special occasions in a pop-up shop, hoping to one day have their own atelier but, for now, they are happy to navigate this adventure online. They are keen to progress the business mindfully as they are also successful in their own careers outside of this new enterprise.

Lolabel brings a spark of hope to this region by doing things that generate not only financial but mental, and creative wealth as well. Hopefully, this story will inspire others who live here to believe that they too, can get their ideas off the ground quickly and easily. 

With the magic of technology and armed with the knowledge that more shopping is done online than ever before, Algarve entrepreneurs may be warmed to know that anything is possible!

For more information on their next pop-up location and drop shop experience, follow @lolabel_collection


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