14 Nov 2021
Barcelona, Spain
Sustainable Textiles and Clothing

During a COVID-19 lockdown, Aina Pujol came to a realisation: fashion needs to become more sustainable. During her career as a pattern designer, Pujol’s local fashion company was purchased by a large group of investors, which led to a new, “fast fashion” business strategy. Pujol grew disillusioned. “This was my first contact with the fast fashion industry, and I realised that I did not want to be a part of that,” she explained.

Since then, Pujol has bravely started up her own fashion house: Hügel, a proudly “slow fashion” oriented business. Hügel pushes back against harmful practices of the global clothing industry by using sustainable materials, such as leftover fabrics and eco-friendly colour dyes. Hügel also conducts stringent quality control checks to ensure that all clothes last for many years.


As COVID-19 lockdowns forced Spaniards away from their offices, Pujol reflected on how her previous employer’s ethos had changed dramatically. “Due to the pandemic I had the opportunity to meditate about (the issue), so I learned about more sustainable options and slow fashion.”

Pujol’s research soon bore fruit. She learned that she could secure high-grade fabrics from leftover materials, discarded by other clothes manufacturers. Pujol also started to walk in the Catalonian mountains, foraging for plants that could produce vivid, all-natural colour dyes.

With crucial inputs at hand, Pujol started to produce her first outfits. Very soon, she realised that a one-woman operation like Hügel would not be able to turn out hundreds of different items from the very outset. 

When I first started with Hügel I wanted to create a huge collection, but I learned fast that it was not possible — not by myself,” she said. “I needed to accept the fact that I am here alone and there is only so much work that I can do.”

Fortunately for Pujol, she was not quite alone in establishing Hügel. “Right now [Hügel] is me, but I am really lucky to have my mum, who sews the prototypes, and my amazing friend and photographer Claudia.”

Pujol has also started working with a small marketing company, Agencia La Vecina, which specialises in campaigns for small initiatives. And, perhaps inevitably, Pujol’s friends have been more than happy to model Hügel’s range of skirts, pants, swimwear, and underwear (amongst others).

Indeed, Hügel has built gradual, patient expansion into the company’s business model. Pujol makes each garment to measure, based on customer requests. This makes her workflow manageable and reduces waste, with each clothing item produced being guaranteed to find a loving home.

This level-headed — not to mention eco-friendly — approach suits Pujol, who offers sensible advice to other aspiring sustainable fashionistas: “I would say, be realistic. Start with a few garments, sew them by yourself … and there will be a time later when you will have a team to do all that.”


Learn more about Hügel through the website and Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Hügel

David Wood is a freelance writer and researcher based in Beirut. He previously worked in Cairo.David Wood
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Hügel Sustainable Textiles and Clothing