Inspired by the high quality fabrics and craftsmanship of bespoke men’s tailoring, POPLIN pajamas are the ultimate in elegant loungewear, combining much need comfort with a heavy dose of chic… so much so that I wouldn't be able to resist wearing them for day! Whichever pin up you choose from, be it the endlessly elegant Audrey (classic navy silk with white piping) or the queen of eccentricity Iris Apfel (pink candy stripe), there is something here for everyone’s style doppelgänger. I caught up with Poplin founder, Lucy Archibald, to discuss sartorial sleepwear and breakfast in bed!
Where are you and what are you doing right now? I’m tapping away on my iPad in my favourite cafe- Lowry and Baker on Portobello Road, just round the corner from the POPLIN studio. They do the best breakfast in London.
How did you get into design? I read English at Oxford, and while I was there I designed costumes for plays, which I loved. So after Oxford, I went to the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and did a masters in the History of Fashion. We had a lot of our classes in the archives of the V&A museum, which was incredibly inspiring. Looking at garments up close, almost archaeologically, was a design training in itself, and has given me such a broad frame of reference.
I got my first proper job with WGSN in London, working on their Arts and Travel directory which meant travelling to interesting destinations, spotting fresh talent in the art world...
But then wanderlust struck and I moved to India, to live in Bombay- a city I’d never even visited! In Bombay I worked as a freelance fashion and travel writer, and did some consultancy for a fantastic local boutique called Bungalow 8. I collaborated closely with the head-designer there, Mathieu Gugumus-Leguillon, and that experience really confirmed for me that I should start my own label. India has such a sense of possibility and the access to craftsmanship is so much more immediate than in Europe, so that really helped too.
Why pajamas? As a freelance writer I was working a lot from home, so I wanted something I could wear in my private space that made me feel great; relaxed yet chic clothes.
I loved the sort of classic men’s pyjamas you find on Jermyn Street, but I wanted them to be cut for a woman, with feminine detailing, luxurious fabrics and original, understated prints. That wasn’t something I could find and so, POPLIN was born: a uniform for the simple pleasures of cooking at home, lying in bed reading the Sunday papers, watching a movie with your boyfriend...
How would you describe the poplin aesthetic in three words? Eclectic, English, Effortless
Tell us about your most recent collection. Our Classics Collection was the first collection, and I really designed things that I wanted and couldn’t find- the perfect white cotton pyjamas with navy piping for instance.
SS13 developed on from that, and was inspired by summer escapes and the glamour of the F Scott Fitzgerald novels.
POPLIN is all about ease and comfort, so the collection includes light cotton loungewear to throw in your suitcase and sleep in, wake-up in, wear for breakfast and even layer over a swimsuit as a cover-up. There are also more glamorous silk pieces- pyjamas and kimonos, inspired by vintage finds and featuring our wonderful Indochine banana leaf print.
What piece has been the most popular this season, so far? Both the Iris Classic Pjs and the Bardot Short Nightshirts have been sell-outs!
What do you look for in the materials you use? POPLIN is always about a balance between function and form, so the materials we use are really important. They have to look and feel amazing, like our customer actually!
I know all our fabric suppliers by name and we work very closely to make sure we source the softest cotton and the most beautiful silks. It’s such a luxury to make our products in India where the textile tradition is so rich! Sometimes we have to look further afield though to get exactly what we want- the satin for the trims on the classic cotton pyjamas comes all the way from Japan for instance.
What’s your favourite fashion era? My taste is very eclectic, and I think one of the great things about how fashion has evolved to incorporate vintage style, is that the best designers draw elements from different eras and create something completely contemporary and fresh.
I love Edwardian lace and broderie anglaise- beautiful white garments that instantly evoke a kind of Howard’s End, strawberries and cream mood. The silhouettes of the 1930s were also wonderful, particularly for lingerie. I’ve uncovered some incredibly womanly silk dressing gowns from that era in my vintage-hunting travels. Ossie Clark’s designs are another favourite of mine and they definitely reference the 1930s. That’s the beauty of fashion- it’s an endless web of references and inspiration across the eras.
Are you limiting your brand’s vision to pajamas or will you be expanding into other garments? For SS13 we’re offering our customers light dresses, kimonos and dressing gowns, alongside our core nightshirts and pyjamas.
We have also collaborated with a young London-based milliner called Laura Cathcart on a capsule collection of summer hats to wear while lying in the sun in your POPLIN dress or nightshirt.
What’s coming up next for Poplin? We have collaborated with a fashion illustrator on a limited edition Christmas design, exclusive to Avenue 32. It’s inspired by The Nutcracker ballet which I went to see every Christmas as a child. The perfect present to find under the tree! The SS13 Collection is launching on the site and with retailers in February.
What’s been inspiring you recently? The Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the Tate. The colours and textures were so rich, and because it was such a nostalgic movement, they had a vision of timeless beauty that feels very relevant for POPLIN. My favourite images from the show are at the heart of our AW13/14 mood board...
What are looking forward to? A holiday! I’m getting married next June and day-dreaming about honeymoon destinations is my main distraction at the moment. I’m going to Paris in a couple of weeks. I’ll be packing my Bardot Pyjamas and I can’t wait to wear them for breakfast in bed- I’ll have a chocolat chaud and a croissant, s’il vous plait.