Career Q&A with the founder of eco-luxe label: JPL Atelier

This year, brands and
retailers have had to face unprecedented challenges due to the impact of
the pandemic on the global economy. According to consumer data tracker,
PSFK Research, the fashion industry is placing Along with these current market trends, a surge of
social protests worldwide have also led shoppers to re-evaluate their
stance on issues such as eco-responsibility, local production and

In this Q&A series, FashionUnited is spotlighting four sustainable and
ethical brands that were already on the path towards a more socially
conscious and circular fashion future. JPL Atelier, a Peta approved brand,
was founded in 2017 by Colombian designer Juliana Ponce de León. The
collections are produced in a female-led factory in London and the company
strongly upholds transparent sustainability. Founder and designer, Ponce de
León, shared recently with FashionUnited via email her vision for expanding
JPL Atelier to work alongside disruptors, charity partners and building a
community of changemakers.

The Alliance Collection

Launched just in August on Women’s Equality Day, features five organic
cotton white T-shirts, each connected with a distinct charity partner (Peta
UK, UN Women UK, Friends of the Earth, Fawcett Society and Post Carbon Lab)
and embroidered with a different word depicting female empowerment. 30
percent from the sale of each t-shirt is donated to the affiliated

What’s the best part about creating your own sustainable and
transparent label?

The greatest part of creating my own label is having control over our
supply chain, who we work with, and what we bring into the market. Knowing
that our garments are made responsibly in London and that everyone in our
supply chain is taken care of and respected in the process is what makes it
all worthwhile. It is definitely possible to create a beautiful garment
without exploiting human beings, animals, or the environment (to an

What’s the most challenging part and how do you tackle that?

The most challenging part by far is finding high-quality fabrics that
meet all of our strict requirements. It is important to know the process of
fabric development to be able to ask the right questions. You may find a
stunning fabric that claims to be “sustainable”, and then come to realise
the supplier doesn’t know the mill’s dyeing processes or how the workers’
working conditions look like.

Another challenge is trying to shift the consumer’s mindset on how much
a luxury “sustainable” garment actually costs versus other garments in the
market. The reason our pieces cost what they do is because this is how much
a garment actually costs to produce responsibly and locally.

I envision the brand expanding and working alongside disruptors and
our charity partners. I want us to keep growing as a community of powerful
feminists, changemakers, and activists.

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Juliana Ponce de León, Founder and Designer, JPL Atelier

What career advice can you share with FashionUnited readers?

Go with your gut and never settle. My entire work ethic is
centered around that philosophy. If you settle for things, whatever they
may be, you limit your possibilities and your ability to disrupt the

When I first started, I was told by people that the concept of a
sustainable luxury label was going to limit our growth and that recycled
water bottle shirts weren’t going to get JPL Atelier anywhere, yet here we
are. Always go with your gut, and never settle. Trust yourself and question

What do you envision for the future of JPL Atelier?

I envision the brand expanding and working alongside disruptors and our
charity partners. I want us to keep growing as a community of powerful
feminists, changemakers, and activists. JPL Atelier will not only be a
label that produces garments, but a company that supports acceptance,
change, empowerment, and the protection of Mother Earth and all of her

I want to also keep learning, researching, and finding ways on how we
can successfully work towards circularity and how we can find solutions to
real sustainable fabric development. We have already adapted to the
made-to-order model, which leaves us without any excess stock as we have
the advantage of producing locally. I want to push the agenda on how we
work with innovative materials, dyeing processes, and fabrics.

What is your go-to sustainable fashion outfit?

I love the classic combination of one of our organic bamboo silk
button-down shirts, recycled denim jeans, and a pair of vegan leather
mules. Also, anything vintage, rented, or second hand in the mix is the way
to go!

Photos: courtesy of JPL Atelier, ASV

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