Exclusive Interview with Fashion Brand: RŪPAHAUS

Exclusive Interview with Fashion Brand : RŪPAHAUS

An exclusive brand interview with the founders of RUPAHAUS. An ethical brand deeply rooted in traditional manual technique and striving to create ethically handcrafted products that is kind to the environment whilst sustaining the livelihood of the artisans’ community.


Would you share a bit of yourself and where you’re from?

Hey! We are the RŪPA sisters – Adeline, Steph and Tasch. We are originally from Indonesia but moved to Australia at a young age, and all of us have studied and lived in Germany.

How did it all start?

Our journey started in 2016, with a vision to create an ethical and sustainable fashion practice that merges the traditional and modern worlds.

Was it always the intention to become a sustainable and ethical designer?

I (Steph) wished I could say that my journey is as straight forward as that! Growing up, I was always fascinated by textile and fabric and even more so by the traditional artisanal textiles. But what encouraged me to forge a path in sustainable and ethical fashion, was my experience working with one of Germany’s biggest named brands. While the experience gave me the opportunity to flourish as a designer, it also made me realise how selfish the fashion industry really is – the lack of compassion for people and the environment and the ignorance of the industrial impact didn’t sit personally well with me. So if I said if I was going to do fashion, I am choosing to not conform and start a whole different approach to what everyone is doing.

What was it that first raised your awareness on the issue of fast fashion?

The amount of unused fabrics that make up the overall waste is definitely beyond overwhelming; and the associated consequences simply must not be good.


Could you tell us more about your label?

RŪPAHAUS was born as an answer to our own nomad identity, curiosity for cultural integration and preservation, the constant yearning to give back to the world and ultimately our love for fashion.

What is the ethos when you design? And what defines your style?

Timeless comfort! Our mom has this “pandora box” suitcase full of different garments from her younger years – and to be honest, a lot of our design inspirations come from going through that suitcase as a kid. We strive to create fashion pieces which are not bound to a specific year or particular trend or even season. They are designed to be so versatile that you could go from bed to beach to office, and in the summer or winter, without missing a beat!

What have been some of the biggest challenges for you on this journey?

Like any other ethical/sustainable fashion brand, we’d say the biggest challenge is to establish that trust within new audience. We have been very lucky that we’ve made many friends on our journey that support us in advocating for ethical and sustainable fashion. We also have our beloved stockists around the globe, and we also make time to do pop-ups throughout the year so we can personally meet our customers.

What do you want to achieve personally with your brand?

We want the world to know about how rich traditional artisanal techniques are; and help preserve the traditional artisanal heritage so that it could remain as a sustainable source of income for the artisans’ communities. Secondly, we want to make a difference in the world for our future generations. Being ethical and sustainable changes the way we navigate the world and ultimately returning the love the mother earth has given us. If we could make a difference all the while looking good and feeling good; I think we could all agree that it definitely is a good plan!


How would you explain the importance of brands like yours making steps to become more ethical and sustainable to someone who isn’t well-versed in what that means?

We can’t expect the world to change without first making a change ourselves. No such action is too little because every step counts in making a difference. It is not just about building a brand with ethical and sustainable values, but our goal is to make sure we help create a future that is more ethical and sustainable for the next generations to come. Fortunately, our conscious choice to preserve the artisanal traditions and heritage allows us to create sustainable income opportunities for the younger generations of our artisan families. Being ethical and sustainable also means that our material selections and the processes applied in our production would result in the highest quality clothing heirloom. And we hope that each RŪPA piece will be the heirloom of pristine quality, fashionable but also comfortably wearable; that will pass on stories behind our artisans’ affluent traditions and cultures and to carry memorable hand-me-down stories for generations to come

For the consumers, what are the easiest ways that we can all be more sustainable in our approach to fashion?

Like anything in this world, sustainable fashion is just as multi-faceted, and there are ways to interpret fashion sustainability. Our interpretation is embedded in the ability that allows garments to be worn beyond the usual lifecycle of a fast-fashion item. So the simplest way to approach sustainable fashion is to look at your current wardrobe before purchasing a new item. Most of the time, you can easily find the what you had in mind right there in your close

In your own eyes, how has becoming a sustainable designer changed your life?

In every way possible, sustainability and ethical living aren’t just about how we do business, but after doing it for a while, it permeates our lifestyle to the T. We are definitely more and more conscious in our lifestyle choices and decision making; how we deck out our homes, how we care and cater for our families, how we justify our consumptions and purchases, and how we treat our environment in general.

People say that sustainable fashion is too expensive or too difficult to commit. How do you usually respond to that?

Those are two questions demanding two very different answers! We reckon the real question should be why is conventional fashion so cheap? 😀 It is all about stigma that comes with anything that is foreign to the society, and it goes back to that differing level of awareness we have about what are involved in the process of making fashion before they land in our wardrobe.

Sustainable fashion is generally more expensive than conventional fashion, because as an ethical/sustainable fashion brand, most of our cost is associated with ensuring fair remuneration for our artisans (aka labour cost) as well as material and production cost (which are usually related to the artisanal/tribal skills that are unique to the artisans).

At the end of the day, the people are the focus of sustainability, because without the people, the industry itself won’t be sustainable. We recently wrote a blog about this on our in-haus dialogue – so head over to our website if you’re curious! As for the second question – adopting a sustainable/ethical fashion definitely require a mindset shift more than anything, and I guess this is why people may find it as difficult.

Just like how the world is moving away from “throw-away society”, it would take some time before sustainable/ethical fashion becomes the norm. Our advice would be to take it slow, refashion your existing wardrobe rather than starting completely afresh, and eventually conscious consumerism will be your second nature.


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