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 at all times cherished classic garments, since being a scholar in Paris. I’m a dedicated Inexperienced Occasion member and I’ve been a inexperienced candidate for my ward, so sporting 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 this planet. 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 business after which within the arts, in advertising. My husband Tjinder is a musician – within the band Cornershop – and he’s a bit well-known for his document amassing. We have now spent a whole lot of time at French flea markets amassing vinyl, I’d at all times have 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 identify – 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 nicely, folks might strive the whole lot 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 spread 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 whole lot of progress and the federal government would give employees protecting garments, to satisfy 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 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 couple of of my clients are artists. We simply began speaking. Then, Stewart Easton, adopted by Ian Viggars, customised a couple of jackets for me. And now folks strategy me to ask if I’d prefer to collaborate. Mainly, the one standards is it needs to 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 maintaining 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 at all times 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 carry their dad and mom or purchase as a gift for his or her dad, they could need just a little assist. I really like discovering the best jacket for folks after which happy clients return with their daughter or their sister, as an example. On the Whitstable pop-up I’ve had individuals who come again yearly, sporting the jacket they purchased, which is beautiful.
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 largely ‘Bugatti’ blue, because of the wider availability. The inexperienced color could be very uncommon however it’s wonderful. The inexperienced workwear jackets had been worn by individuals who labored in parks, as gardeners, in nature, in order that they’re rarer to seek out.
Individuals prefer to help gradual trend, and the connection to guide work that we’ve got misplaced. They’re sporting them now as a trend piece, like a denim jacket. I’ve at all times mentioned that the bleu du travail is the European model of a denim jacket. The blue is similar origin, you realize, as a result of it’s the most affordable dye they produced.
It’s like a backlash, being fed up of quick trend. So, I feel 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 folks 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’ll be able to 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 super handy!
My favourites are the actually outdated light jackets with restore work…
When it comes to mending and repairing, a few of the jackets have gotten unique mending, which is beautiful. 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 discovered 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 approach, in my profession, I’ve at all times supported different folks’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 carried out my very own factor.
Get your self right down to the Shoreditch pop-up. I’ll be going, in my jacket (scorching 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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