Fashion Startup Launches Brands For Women Who 'Hate Traditional Stuff'



Thu, 12 Jan 2017 - 02:50 GMT


Thu, 12 Jan 2017 - 02:50 GMT

Plum Plu and Opio, two very different brands launched last year by fashion startup Basement 290, offer both comfy and high-end alternatives for women who “hate traditional stuff.”

by Farah El Akkad photography courtesy Basement 290

Last year a team of three youth sharing a strong passion for art, fashion and design sat at a drawing board and came up with the idea to launch a fashion startup that would cater to different needs by incorporating more than one brand. Between them, the team had quite a bit of experience in designing well-received haute couture for their close circle of friends and family. They were self taught and ambitious, shared the same direction and had one main quality in common: “We hate traditional stuff,” they say. Determined to do something big, the trio decided to launch two fashion brands under the umbrella of Basement 290: Plum Plu and Opio.

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“We felt there is a gap in the market when it comes to basic wear, and you can hardly find any brand that sells comfy loungewear, especially local brands. Most designers focus on haute couture so we thought it would be a very good opportunity and we started working on Opio. The womenswear launch was a huge success and we are expanding to include men’s and kidswear,” the team says. Opio designs are laid back, oversized and easy to move around in. Plum Plu, on the other hand, is sophisticated prêt a porter, featuring luxurious handmade embroidery with an edge. Both brands target the same segment but completely different personas. Plum Plu is for someone daring and trendy, each piece itself a statement.

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The team spent a few weeks working on their designs. “A big part of design includes good research, doing our homework and looking at current trends, colors and themes on the fashion scene. After choosing a color board, we started sketching, doing a lot of sketches. Once we agreed on a sketch we started getting inspiration for embroidery and then we started trying different designs, color combinations, stitching techniques using different materials until we reached a satisfying outcome,” they said.

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WanderLust is the name of the Plum Plu collection, the theme of which is a girl looking for something but does not quite know what it is. The scene is “set” at her grandmother’s home where she searches for something missing, exploring, wandering and seeing shadows of her late grandma. Leaning toward the abstract, the collection is modern vintage, embroidery made of threads more than beads to bring out the vintage touch. As the team explains, the girl is “an aimless wanderer, wandering in her infinite realm, lost in the night without. A candle to light, she drags her hand along the wall in this vast empty hall, in an endless journey to reminisce about her heritage and define her soul. She is the aimless wanderer.”

‘PLU’ stands for People Like Us and defines one of the team’s main goals: having a cause behind the brand. “We wanted a cause that revolves around our society and supporting minorities, this is part of our corporate social responsibility, using fashion as a tool to celebrate diversity. We already sat with different entities and we are currently working on something for our coming collection next March,” they say.

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The team have lots of expansion plans in mind — including going international, establishing their own retail store and introducing perfumes, accessories and leather goods — but will not rush into anything before at least three more collections have been released. “We were intending to make an international calendar launch and we were actually in the process but we thought the Egyptian market is still not mature enough to accept launching a summer collection in winter or both, so we decided to launch one collection at a time until we are able to penetrate the market,” they say.

“I think Egypt is not there yet but there is a promising sense of development. Fast fashion is becoming more expensive, which is making more people look for substitutes, because of the economic status, so more local designers are standing out.”

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