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 yr, 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. In every single place. Each Monsieur TNMA and I purchased jackets. This yr, 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 cherished classic garments, since being a pupil in Paris. I’m a dedicated Inexperienced Get together 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 might really feel too responsible about contributing to extra cotton on this planet. There’s 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 and marketing. My husband Tjinder is a musician – within the band Nook Store – and he’s a bit well-known for his file amassing. We have now spent a variety of time at French flea markets amassing vinyl, I’d all the time take a look at the secondhand garments and shortly ended up with too many workwear jackets. So, in 2014, I began promoting them in my spare time after which it sort 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 stunning way of life classic store alongside Inexperienced Lanes in North London. It labored properly, folks might attempt every thing on and so then I mixed frequent pop-ups with the web store. That grew to become my enterprise mannequin.
The workwear comes from a variety of. locations in France. So, typically it’s shopping for from aged people who find themselves promoting direct, typically from wholesalers. It’s an actual combination. Many are from the post-war years, when there was a variety of development and the federal government would give employees protecting garments, to fulfill necessities. They usually gave them too many! Greater than they might 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 typically the marks are too dangerous 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 typically it’s simply doesn’t look good. Fairly a number of of my prospects are artists. We simply began speaking. Then, Stewart Easton, adopted by Ian Viggars, customised a number of jackets for me. And now folks strategy me to ask if I’d wish to collaborate. Mainly, the one standards is it needs to be washable. And to allow them to use no matter approach they like, so long as it stays put. It’s been a pleasant manner of retaining 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 become older people who find themselves very trendy, they’re very fashion-aware they usually know what they’re searching for immediately. After which individuals who deliver their mother and father or purchase as a gift for his or her dad, they may need a bit assist. I really like discovering the best jacket for folks after which happy prospects return with their daughter or their sister, as an example. On the Whitstable pop-up I’ve had individuals who come again yearly, carrying the jacket they purchased, which is gorgeous.
Why do you suppose why do you suppose folks like them a lot?
In France, they’re one thing everybody would have worn. The jackets are principally ‘Bugatti’ blue, because of the wider availability. The inexperienced color may be very uncommon however it’s wonderful. The inexperienced workwear jackets have been worn by individuals who labored in parks, as gardeners, in nature, so that they’re rarer to search out.
Individuals wish to help gradual trend, and the connection to handbook work that now we have misplaced. They’re carrying them now as a trend piece, like a denim jacket. I’ve all the time stated that the bleu du travail is the European model of a denim jacket. The blue is identical origin, , as a result of it’s the most cost effective dye they produced.
It’s like a backlash, being fed up of quick trend. So, I feel it’s eager to reconnect to extra genuine items that inform a narrative. Plus, the truth that it’s versatile and goes with so many outfits. Some folks put on them actually outsized and guys usually put on them over a t-shirt, at work. What’s so good about them is you possibly can costume them up or down fairly simply. Typically I put on one with a pleasant shirt or over a costume. Plus, the deep pockets are tremendous helpful!
My favourites are the actually previous light jackets with restore work…
By way of 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 example, they usually want changing. I’ve realized the mending methods, it’s been an attention-grabbing journey for me as a result of I’ve by no means studied trend. I didn’t know something about retail, so I’ve needed to be taught all of it.
In a manner, in my profession, I’ve all the time supported different folks’s visions; once I labored with inventive administrators, theatre administrators, or inside a advertising and marketing firm. So that is the primary time, for me professionally, the place I’ve executed 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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