My obsession with second-hand workwear led me to Marie Remy, 52, the founding father of The French Workwear Company. She’s French, she loves workwear, she’s cool as.
Final 12 months, The French Workwear Firm had a pop-up in Shoreditch, so I popped alongside to take a look at the merch and wasn’t disillusioned. Beaucoup de bleu. All over the place. Each Monsieur TNMA and I purchased jackets. This 12 months, the Shoreditch pop-up is again, till Sunday 9 July; and so I had a fast chat with Marie about how she began her classic workwear enterprise:
How did French Workwear come about?
I’ve all the time liked classic garments, since being a pupil in Paris. I’m a dedicated Inexperienced Celebration member and I’ve been a inexperienced candidate for my ward, so carrying classic and second-hand for me is an extension of these commitments. It’s the greenest factor you are able to do, aside from not shopping for something. I’d really feel too responsible about contributing to extra cotton on the earth. There may be a lot of it. I additionally love the historical past facet. The jackets all inform a narrative. The employees, the regional historical past, the connection between the factories, the variation between design particulars like dyes, pockets and stitching.
I labored within the music trade after which within the arts, in advertising. My husband Tjinder is a musician – within the band Nook Store – and he’s a bit well-known for his document gathering. We have now spent a number of time at French flea markets gathering vinyl, I’d all the time have a look at the secondhand garments and rapidly ended up with too many workwear jackets. So, in 2014, I began promoting them in my spare time after which it form of grew from there.
In 2017, I purchased my area title – frenchworkwear.com. I quietly launched on-line after which I did a pop-up in a beautiful life-style classic store alongside Inexperienced Lanes in North London. It labored properly, individuals might strive every part on and so then I mixed frequent pop-ups with the web store. That turned my enterprise mannequin.
The workwear comes from a variety of. locations in France. So, generally it’s shopping for from aged people who find themselves promoting direct, generally from wholesalers. It’s an actual combination. Many are from the post-war years, when there was a number of progress and the federal government would give employees protecting garments, to fulfill necessities. And so they gave them too many! Greater than they may ever put on. Nevertheless it’s getting more durable and more durable to supply the items. The pool is shrinking.
And inform me about your designer collaborations
Typically tears and stains look cool, however generally the marks are too unhealthy and I can’t promote the jackets. That was how I began my collaborations, working with the broken items to create one thing attention-grabbing. More often than not a rip or stain works. It’s a part of the historical past, and I prefer it. However generally it’s simply doesn’t look good. Fairly a number of of my clients are artists. We simply began speaking. Then, Stewart Easton, adopted by Ian Viggars, customised a number of jackets for me. And now individuals strategy me to ask if I’d prefer to collaborate. Mainly, the one standards is it must be washable. And to allow them to use no matter method they like, so long as it stays put. It’s been a pleasant approach of protecting the enterprise attention-grabbing.
In your web site, you say French Workwear is appropriate for women and men of all ages. Do you discover that’s the case at your pop-ups?
I’m all the time shocked, however I do. In lots of locations I grow old people who find themselves very trendy, they’re very fashion-aware and so they know what they’re searching for right away. After which individuals who carry their dad and mom or purchase as a gift for his or her dad, they could need a bit assist. I really like discovering the correct jacket for individuals after which happy clients return with their daughter or their sister, as an illustration. On the Whitstable pop-up I’ve had individuals who come again yearly, carrying the jacket they purchased, which is gorgeous.
Why do you assume why do you assume individuals like them a lot?
In France, they’re one thing everybody would have worn. The jackets are largely ‘Bugatti’ blue, as a result of wider availability. The inexperienced color could be very uncommon however it’s wonderful. The inexperienced workwear jackets have been worn by individuals who labored in parks, as gardeners, in nature, in order that they’re rarer to search out.
Folks prefer to assist gradual style, and the connection to guide work that now we have misplaced. They’re carrying them now as a style piece, like a denim jacket. I’ve all the time mentioned that the bleu du travail is the European model of a denim jacket. The blue is similar origin, , as a result of it’s the most cost effective dye they produced.
It’s like a backlash, being fed up of quick style. So, I believe it’s desirous to reconnect to extra genuine items that inform a narrative. Plus, the truth that it’s versatile and goes with so many outfits. Some individuals put on them actually outsized and guys typically put on them over a t-shirt, at work. What’s so good about them is you possibly can gown them up or down fairly simply. Typically I put on one with a pleasant shirt or over a gown. Plus, the deep pockets are tremendous helpful!
My favourites are the actually previous light jackets with restore work…
When it comes to mending and repairing, a number of the jackets have gotten authentic mending, which is gorgeous. And a few of them I prepare to be repaired, so all of the buttons have gone as an illustration, and so they want changing. I’ve realized the mending strategies, it’s been an attention-grabbing journey for me as a result of I’ve by no means studied style. I didn’t know something about retail, so I’ve needed to be taught all of it.
In a approach, in my profession, I’ve all the time supported different individuals’s visions; after I labored with inventive administrators, theatre administrators, or inside a advertising firm. So that is the primary time, for me professionally, the place I’ve finished my very own factor.
Get your self right down to the Shoreditch pop-up. I’ll be going, in my jacket (sizzling weather-permitting).
The French Workwear Firm is at 16 Calvert Avenue, London E2 7JD, from Tuesday 20 June – Sunday 9 July 2023 (11am – 6pm on a regular basis besides Sundays (11m – 5pm)).
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