How VIPOP's Lenia Pérez Crafts Ethical Fashion from Culture
Hong Kong/ Terra/ Sustainability

VIPOP’s Lenia Pérez on How Venezuelan Ingenuity Can Inspire Ethical Fashion

Header VIPOPs Lenia Pérez on How Venezuelan Ingenuity Can Inspire Ethical Fashion Photo by Lenia Pérez

This interview is part of The Beat Hong Kong’s International Women’s Month coverage. Through highlighting women’s voices, we are celebrating and uplifting the women around us through their stories and multifaceted experiences.

The concept of ‘sustainability’ has shot into the fashion stratosphere over the last decade with great speed and gusto. A force de jour that has imprinted itself into the materials in the clothes on our back, and has also coloured the shopping choices we make on an everyday level.

An avid advocate of this growing community, entrepreneur and fashion designer Lenia Pérez has infused this personal mission into her line of work, where she founded sustainable and ethical fashion brand VIPOP. Venezuelan-born and currently Hong Kong-based, Lenia draws from her predecessors to uplift the ingenuity of Venezuelan women- grounded in admiration for the environment – amongst today’s cosmopolitan market.

Extending her hand to consumers who admire VIPOP’s curated designer apparel and crafted jewellery, she hopes to grow their understanding of green consumption even further by bringing emphasis to the ever-important role of producers and sellers. Not just a personal choice, the decision to make a conscious purchase can send a cycle of influence and reactions on others and the planet.

Chatting to The Beat Asia on the importance of respecting the makers and materials behind VIPOP’s products, Lenia shares with us how her background and relationships with collaborating artisans has inspired her to push forward on sustainable fashion with ethical production.

For those who don’t know, could you introduce your journey in creating VIPOP?

I was born in Venezuela, where I grew up working with my parents on their artisanal goods business. It's where I learned how to appreciate a product’s origin and story—to look at it closely, touch it gently, and envision the person who will wear it for years to come.

It's also where I learned that when you're making something by hand, there's no hiding from any part of the process—from how long it takes to produce, to how much energy is needed, to what kinds of materials are used.

I decided to start my company VIPOP, which supports sustainable designers and aims to bring their stories to life through the products they create. We believe that everyone deserves to know where their clothes come from and why they're made the way they are.

What do you hope to convey about Venezuelan culture to the world through VIPOP?

We are dedicated to bringing products that are practical, versatile, and have a positive impact on the world. We believe that Venezuelan women have a stylish way of carrying themselves that we can all learn from, and that our customers will feel empowered when they wear our products.

For thousands of years, Venezuelans have relied on their creativity and resourcefulness to survive. They've learned how to make do with what they have in order to get by. This is the same mentality we bring into every aspect of our business—from our artisanal background, to [the] production process behind making our products.

Our mission is simple: We want you to be confident in your own skin and feel secure in your choices for yourself and for others around you. We also want each of you who wear VIPOP to know that your purchase is making an impact in the world around you—that it's helping fuel change for others who need it most.

How has the experience of creating VIPOP helped you better understand your cultural roots?

My passion for learning new techniques and revisiting traditional ones has been with me since childhood. Growing up in Latin America, I was exposed to diverse nationalities and their cultures. This helped me see the common threads between them all—and taught me that we are all connected.

Now that I am an entrepreneur in Hong Kong, I've incorporated Asian culture into my work, as well as ideas from other parts of the world where artisans have been practicing their crafts for centuries. I believe there are universal values— like caring for others— that is shared across cultures and that I like to incorporate this in my work and everyday living.

What do you hope each customer learns about sustainability and Latin American culture through VIPOP’s pieces and products?

In Latin America, fashion is a way of life that goes hand-in-hand with nature. Many of our designers and artisans are creating with natural elements, which makes our pieces long lasting and beautiful for years to come.

This approach is not only sustainable—it's also more fun! Life is too short to spend all your time worrying about what you're wearing or how much it costs. Instead, take care of what you have by using it wisely and making sure your clothes can last as long as possible while still looking good on you (and the environment). Cherish creations made of our limited resources instead of buying something new every day and throwing away old clothes without thinking twice about where they came from or how they were made.

Many forget about the aspect of ethical work practices in sustainable designing/fashion, could you tell us about VIPOP’s relationship with the artisans that you source from?

We're all about building friendships and great connections that will last a lifetime. We want to showcase the artisanal values, detailing, and hard work of our designers by bringing them to Asia. It's not just about profit for us—we just want to help small brands grow. Our photoshoots and creative aspects help us as much as they help our designers.

We believe in creating an environment where everyone can thrive, so we don't just focus on selling products; we focus on helping our designers flourish in their careers. That's why we value authenticity so much—it's what makes us who we are.

How do you approach these artists/crafts people to work with, and how would you describe your shared connection and relationship?

As a company, we have always been committed to working with the most talented crafts people in the world. We believe that a combination of ancient techniques and modern technology can create something special that no one else has seen before.

We choose styles according to how they stand out and can be iconic and seen. We are always on the lookout for designers who are excited by the idea of working with us and our team at VIPOP. We research ancient techniques such as weaving, dying, printing, et cetera, and then work with designers to create something that is unique to their brand identity but still fits within our ethos of ethical working practices.

Our goal is to motivate designers to reach us now that VIPOP is established as a brand, because they know that we will take good care of them throughout the process.

Our connection with our designers is a two-way street. We both bring something to the table and we both get something out of it. There's an understanding between us that we will both benefit from this partnership, but at the same time we are both working towards something greater than just us—we're working towards making a change in society through our products and sustainability measures.

What does ethical sourcing and production mean to you/look like?

We believe that ethical sourcing is important to the brands we work with and the people who are involved. It's about minimizing the impact of our business to the earth and choosing the right people to work with.

The quality of a product is not just its value—it's also how it impacts society, the environment, and other people. Ethical sourcing means taking responsibility for the entire life cycle of your product from start to finish, from design to production to marketing. It means making sure that you're only working with suppliers who have good working conditions for their employees, produce high-quality products, and are environmentally friendly.

What are your hopes for the future of sustainable and ethical fashion in Hong Kong?

As a designer and as a person, I believe that the most important thing we can do is to understand the value of our materials, and then use that understanding to create products that are beautiful, sustainable, and conscious.

Conscious buying is key. It's not just about knowing what you're buying—it's about understanding how it was made, and how much care went into creating it. By educating ourselves on how products are made, we can make better decisions about what we buy.

And finally – traceability is important. I hope to see more brands who can show their customers where their materials come from and [that are] able to showcase the care they take in making their products.

What’s in store for the future of VIPOP, and for Lenia?

We want our business to be more than just another sustainable brand—we want it to be an international force for change. We want to empower people to make their own choices about what makes sense for them personally, without sacrificing quality or style in the process.

That's why at VIPOP, we're combining our passion for sustainable fashion with an eye toward innovation and quality. We're committed to creating pieces that will stand up against time, so you can feel good about wearing them season after season—and so you can feel good knowing that each time you wear them, you'll be supporting a business whose values align with yours. We’re also putting in full support for designers who share our values and create beautiful clothing that is made sustainably. We welcome you to join us in this effort!

We will be hosting events where you can meet some of these designers, learn about their processes, and get first-hand accounts of how they've been able to incorporate sustainable practices into their lives and work spaces.You will also find styling session events at our Boutique, Artezano. Other than that stay tuned for our upcoming In-house brand Lenia, which we will be introducing to you soon!

You can shop VIPOP here, and keep updated with Lenia at @vipopofficial.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Click here to see the rest of our International Women’s Month series.

Get the latest curated content with The Beat Asia's newsletters. Sign up now for a weekly dose of the best stories, events, and deals delivered straight to your inbox. Don't miss out! Click here to subscribe.

This Week's Events In Hong Kong View more

Sign up to receive updates on what's going on in the city. Don't miss out on exciting events, news, and more. Sign up today!

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice
Thank you for subscribing! Click here if you were not redirected.