Made 100% in Greece, τ.ε. Pareo was born on a dull day at the office, when colleagues Tania, a marketing professional and Eleni, a Greek-French industrial designer, both then working for a famous Greek natural cosmetics brand, were daydreaming about creating an amazing business of their own.
“I had just returned from a holiday on Mykonos, where I spotted some exotic sarongs with lizard prints, and Tania and I talked about how great it would be to create a cool, elegant brand. Tania’s mother was a tailor so she grew up with a passion for clothing, while since studying in Paris I’ve had a real love for designing” Eleni says.
The duo decided there and then to give their vision a try. They started by making 90 sarongs (known in Greece as pareo) that they sold to friends, and upon receiving more encouragement than they could possible have imagined, went on to make 250 pieces – printed and sewn completely by hand – the following summer.
“Our designs are now manufactured by a small textiles factory in Athens, with whom we work very closely, while most of our pieces are a limited edition – so it’s like the opposite of something mass produced in China!” Eleni laughs.
In the five years since the company started, τ.ε. Pareo have proven a success for the duo, neither of whom had any former knowledge of how to start, run and market a business. They have developed a solid clientele in Greece (“mainly women aged 35-65 years who like chic and unique designs”) and abroad, with international buyers (Italian, French and American mostly) discovering their products online or at island boutiques.
The sarongs are made either out of gauze or cotton; Eleni notes that she likes gauze because it is used traditionally in Greece for straining yogurt and cheese, and 100% cotton because it reminds them of the bedsheets used in traditional homes.
Eleni creates the designs that are strongly inspired by Greek nature – the brown of the earth, green of leaves, the blues of the sea and sky (and doors and windows of the Cycladic islands), combined with abstract geometric patterns related to Greek culture. However final decisions are always made by both as a team.
Summer 2017 will see the arrival of new designs, as well as a silver ring (with the inscription ‘In love with Greek summer’) that pareo-wearers can use to don their pareo in various ways. Both Tania and Eleni are mothers (each with two kids), which has inspired them also to make baby sarongs to be released this summer.
“Babies obviously won’t wear a pareo, but you can use it to wrap the baby in or rest it on when you’re at the beach,” Eleni says, adding “indeed, just as sarongs can be worn not only as a skirt or dress but also as a scarf or hat, which makes them unisex, or they can be draped over seats on a boat or a sun lounger on the beach. They are an all-summer companion and when they are of high quality, they will be with you for many, many years to come!”