Interview: Avel&Men, la marque bretonne

Merci à Xavier Broise de la marque Avel&Men d’avoir répondu à nos questions!

  • Pourriez vous vous présenter? Qui est derrière ce projet? Etes vous seule ou avez vous une équipe? Aviez vous travaillé dans l’industrie de la mode avant de vous lancer? 

Xavier Broise, je suis le cofondateur d’Avel & Men. Je mène ce projet avec ma sœur et associée, Agnès Broise. Nous travaillons tous les deux et avons un petite équipe composée d’un stagiaire et d’intervenants extérieurs (graphiste, développement web, etc..). . je n’avais jamais travaillé dans le monde de la mode auparavant ; Agnès quant à elle a fait des études de design d’intérieur et connaissait donc le milieu du design, de la décoration et de la mode.

  • Qu’est ce qui vous a poussé à vous lancer dans ce projet? Et pourquoi une marque d’accessoires?

J’aime les objets et quand j’ai fini mes études et que j’ai commencé à travailler, je me suis vite rendu compte qu’avec les dress codes classiques du travail, l’homme n’avait pas grande latitude pour se faire plaisir dans sa tenue et ses accessoires. La montre fait partie de ses rares objets et cela explique bien sur le succès du luxe horloger ainsi que le nouvel engouement pour les montres vintages : on peut porter un objet technique / mécanique, qui évoque un univers (les montres de plongée, d’aviateur, les chronos de régate…), et qui parfois ont une longue histoire et portent les traces du temps dans le cas des montres anciennes… Nous avons observé ce modèle et souhaité l’appliquer à notre marque de maroquinerie : notre cible peut s’offrir l’accessoires choc, qui évoque la mer,  le nautisme et sa technicité grâce aux alliances de matériaux.

  • Quelles sont vos sources d’inspiration?

La mer, le nautisme, les paysages bretons ! Comme je l’évoquais plus haut, nous souhaitons proposer une gamme citadine qui rappelle la mer et le nautisme de façon subtile. Le travail sur l’alliance des matériaux et sur la doublure a donc été important. Le cuir, le carbone, le dyneema sont des matériaux nobles et notre pièce maitresse, le sac à dos Quiberon, les rassemble. Pour donner une note plus technique à notre source d’inspiration, je voudrais évoquer les bateaux de type Half Tonner : ces voiliers de régate des années 70 / 80 sont parfois remise à neuf par des régatiers amoureux de leurs lignes. Le résultat est bien souvent magnifique : un design très classique et caractéristique de cette époque, avec bien souvent la présence de bois dans la construction ; mais les compétiteurs acharnés les équipent également d’un accastillage de dernière génération avec des voiles modernes. Cette alliance des matériaux est une vraie source d’inspiration pour nous.

  • A-t-il été aisé de trouver le nom de votre marque? 

En tant que régatier, j’aime dire que je suis davantage passionné par le vent que par la mer. Pour gagner une régate, il faut entre autres comprendre le vent et l’utiliser au mieux en réglant de façon optimale les voiles. Et puis le vent peut offrir aux paysages des styles et des ambiances bien différentes ; un soir d’été pétoleux (la pétole est l’expression pour dire qu’il n’y a pas de vent chez les voileux) en Bretagne, les gens font du paddle sur une mer d’huile, on entend les gens rire sur les plages. En pleine tempête d’hiver, ce sont les bruits des violents vagues qui sont les plus impressionnants, les marins restent au port en espérant que l’amarrage de leur bateau résistera. En régate aussi le force du vent change complètement l’ambiance : dans le petit temps, il ne faut pas bouger pour éviter les vibrations dans la coque et le greement, les équipages parlent souvent doucement comme pour ne pas perturber la brise légère et on entend le cliquetis des winchs. Dans la forte brise, c’est la guerre : on doit parler très fort pour se faire entendre, les déplacements sur le bateaux sont difficiles et l’équipage est vigilant pour ne pas coucher le bateau !

Alors, vous l’aurez compris, le vent a une grande importance chez les régatiers… et le terme Avel, en breton, nous plaisait beaucoup. L’idée du men, la roche, la virilité était très complémentaire. Un membre de notre famille avait fait une première alliance avec ces deux mots, mais c’est une amie proche qui lança cette idée par SMS : nous étions conquis et il a été adopté !

  • Pourquoi maintenir une production française? 

Tout d’abord car nous avons en France des ateliers avec un très bon savoir-faire dans le cuir. Ensuite car nous avons besoin de rapidité et de flexibilité pour lancer de nouveaux prototypes et adapter notre gamme, et cela est plus facile quand on peut échanger régulièrement avec l’artisan. Enfin, on considère souvent que ce n’est pas une chose facile à cause des coûts de production, mais je suis persuadé qu’en étant créatif on peut trouver des solutions / techniques de construction pour réduire les coûts de main d’œuvre.

  • En tant que jeune marque, cela a t il été dur de convaincre vos partenaires de travailler avec vous?

Non je crois que les partenaires apprécient le fait que des jeunes se lancent dans entrepreneuriat. De plus, la Bretagne a un sacré capital sympathie alors quand on explique le concept de notre marque, nous recevons souvent un bon accueil !

  • Qu’est ce qui distingue et caractérise les produits Avel & Men?

Chaque nom de produit Avel & Men porte le nom d’un plan d’eau sur lequel j’ai eu l’occasion de naviguer. Les produits Avel & Men évoquent la Bretagne et le nautisme, sans tomber dans les « clichés bord de mer » et en ne faisant aucune concession sur la qualité. Nos produits sont faits pour durer !

  • Est ce votre première entreprise?

Oui pour ma part, Agnès en revanche avait déjà l’expérience de entrepreneuriat.

  • Pensez vous qu’il est facile d’être entrepreneur en France?

Pour le moment, la création d’entreprise fut aisée et les relations avec les administrations sont excellentes. Les choses se compliquent peut être lorsqu’on devient une plus grande structure. Ce n’est pas pour tout de suite, et quand cela viendra, ça sera un « bon problème » !

  • Aimeriez vous étendre votre gamme ou souhaitez vous vous en tenir aux accessoires?

Il y a plusieurs axes possibles de développement pour Avel & Men, mais pour les 2 / 3 prochaines années, nous avons encore clairement beaucoup à faire avec la maroquinerie et les accessoires. En ce moment nous développons notre gamme suite à nos premiers retours d’expérience, c’est une période très excitante. Comme en régate, on travaille dur pour trouver les bons réglages et faire avancer au mieux le bateau ; j’ai cette même sensation avec l’entreprise.

  • Où rêveriez vous d’être dans 5 ans? Des flagship stores à NYC et dans le Marais? 🙂

Bon alors, si on parle de rêve : je rêve de faire 80% de notre CA à l’export ; d’avoir en effet nos boutiques en propre à Paris (plutôt dans le 6ème) et dans les grandes villes, et notamment celles qui sont aussi des lieux de régate célèbres (Sydney, San Fransisco, Copenhague…), d’être sponsor titre de quelques grosses épreuves de régates, et de devoir régater davantage pour trouver de nouveaux noms de produits pour les collections futurs !

  • Quelque chose à ajouter? Un conseil aux futurs entrepreneurs?

Oh là non, nous sommes bien trop jeunes pour donner des conseils !

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Interview: Pallome, the boho chic brand made in Paris

Pallome

Merci à l’équipe de Pallome d’avoir accepté de répondre à nos questions!

Pourriez vous vous présenter? Qui est derrière ce projet? Etes vous seule ou avez vous une équipe? Aviez vous travaillé dans l’industrie de la mode avant de vous lancer?

Derrière ce nom il y a avant tout un couple, Loreleï & Marc-A, ensemble depuis 9 ans, nous avons depuis toutes ces années partagé le rêve commun de travailler ensemble ! C’est en apprenant que nous allions être parents que nous avons décidé de faire de ce rêve une réalité !!!

Loreleï a étudié à l’Istituto Marangoni au sein du campus parisien et a également fait une année intensive en marketing du luxe. Elle a notamment travaillé à New-York ainsi qu’à Montréal mais aussi à Paris dans la Haute couture & le prêt-à-porter.

Marc-Alexandre est avocat de formation (il a étudié à Paris) et a travaillé plusieurs années en Suisse. Cela fait maintenant 10 ans qu’il à son cabinet.

Nos corps de métiers sont très différents, et nous aimons beaucoup cette idée. Chacun apporte un regard nouveau & des réflexions originales !

Qu’est ce qui vous a poussé à vous lancer dans ce projet? Et pourquoi une marque de vêtements?

Loreleï a toujours rêvé de créer sa marque de vêtements ! Marc-Alexandre a été conquis par l’idée ! PALLOME est née …

Quelles sont vos sources d’inspiration?

Principalement la nature & les voyages ! Notre liberté est vitale et nous gardons toujours en tête ce besoin fondamental pour imaginer nos pièces !!

A-t-il été aisé de trouver le nom de votre marque? Pourquoi Pallome?

Oui car PALLOME est avant tout la compilation d’initiales de d’êtres chers. Ceux-ci nous ayant beaucoup soutenu, il nous a été plus que nécessaire qu’ils soient présents dans le nom de la marque.

Pourquoi maintenir une production française?

C’est dur mais nous essayons de maintenir cette belle idée … C’est la fierté & la nécessité de maintenir l’artisanat & l’industrie française. Nous sommes un pays incroyable avec des ressources exceptionnelles et d’innombrables talents que nous nous devons d’honorer !

En tant que jeune marque, cela a t il été dur de convaincre vos partenaires de travailler avec vous ? A-t-il été facile de produire à Paris?

Plus ou moins nous travaillons actuellement en collaboration avec des ateliers ESAT, ces ateliers aident les handicapés à se former pour un travail particulier (pour nous c’est la confection) il y a donc des “contraintes” à prendre en compte comme par exemple la complexité des vêtements qu’il faut éviter à tout prix !

Qu’est ce qui distingue et caractérise les produits Pallome?

PALLOME c’est LA marque boho chic ! Ni trop bohème ni trop chic ! nous sommes le combo parfait 🙂 De plus, tout est fait non pas en France mais à Paris … c’est quand même un plus non ? 😉

Comment avez vous pû financer votre projet?

Via des fonds perso + via une campagne ulule ! C’était clairement notre “challenge” … Si on arrivait à notre objectif de 100% (et nous en avons obtenu 150% !!!) cela signifiait que l’univers de PALLOME & sa démarche plaisait donc on pouvait se lancer véritablement dans cette incroyable aventure !!!

Cela a t il été aisé?

Rien n’est aisé ! Encore plus quand on créer son entreprise mais le jeu en vaut vraiment la chandelle 😉 

Pensez vous qu’il est facile d’être entrepreneur en France?

Non pas du tout ! C’est un véritable parcours du combattant semer d’embûches et d’obstacles … Mais on joue le jeu là aussi.

Aimeriez vous étendre votre gamme ou souhaitez vous vous en tenir aux vêtements femme?

Oui bien sur ! Nous aimerions tout d’abord élargir notre offre et pouvoir ainsi proposer plus de pièces dans différents tissus puis dans nos rêves les plus fou proposer des tenues complètes avec des accessoires tout en habillant les enfants & les babys 🙂

Où rêveriez vous d’être dans 5 ans? Des flagship stores à NYC et dans le Marais? 🙂

On aimerait avant tout devenir une référence sur le marché français puis européen ! Conquérir les states prend plus que cinq ans 😉 surtout qu’il y a de la compétition!

Quelque chose à ajouter? Un conseil aux futurs entrepreneurs ?

“Avance sur ta route car elle n’existe que par ta marche” Saint Éxupéry > Croyez en vous & n’abandonnez jamais … C’est la clé ! Si vous y croyez alors vous serez convaincant(e) !

Pallome

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Interview: Ikuko Takeda, Japanese style, French craftsmanship

Merci à Ikuko Takeda d’avoir répondu à nos questions. C’est le troisième volet de notre série “Meet the makers” qui part à la rencontre des créateurs et des entrepreneurs, français et étrangers. La dernière fois, nous présentions Alexandra et sa marque, Année.

Pourriez vous vous présenter? Qui est derrière ce projet? Etes vous seule ou avez vous une équipe? Aviez vous travaillé dans l’industrie de la mode avant de vous lancer?
Je suis Ikuko Takeda, comme le nom de la marque, styliste maroquinerie à la base. J’ai travaillé longtemps pour Agnès b. et puis d’autres marques, j’ai lancé ma marque en 2016. Je suis pour le moment seule pour developper cette marque mais j’ai vraiment de la chance d’avoir des amis photographe, retoucheur, mannequin qui m’ont beaucoup aidé pour le shooting, et des amis qui ont aidé pour le siteweb, la rédaction etc. Je rêve un jour d’avoir mon équipe!
Qu’est ce qui vous a poussé à vous lancer dans ce projet? Et pourquoi une marque d’accessoires? 
J’ai été toujours fasciné par les objets autour du corps, notamment le sac. C’est une chose en plus des vêtements, mais qui a une grande place pour exprimer, finir le style, j’aime bien ce côté “Accessoire important” Et je suis venue vivre en France pour lancer ma propre marque. 
 
Quelles sont vos sources d’inspiration? 
Création en papier, architectures, spectacle.. toutes les choses créees par la vision sur l’essentiel, sobre etc. 
 
Pourquoi maintenir une production française? 
Car j’habite en France. J’aime bien travailler avec des gens qui partagent le même moment, à même endroit. C’est comme le langage, la sensation change suivant l’époque mais aussi ce que l’on vit à tel endroit.
 
En tant que jeune marque, cela a t il été dur de convaincre vos partenaires de travailler avec vous? 
Oui. Au début. Mais après avoir rencontré les ateliers avec qui je travaille maintenant, ça se passe très bien.
 
Est il facile de produire en France? 
Il y a des difficultés surtout sur le coût. Mais j’apprécie beaucoup la qualité de travail artisanal aux ateliers de maroquinerie de luxe à Paris. Et avec la proximité, la conversation vivante et les échanges de sensation, il y a plus de bons cotés que de mauvais.
 
Qu’est ce qui distingue et caractérise les produits Ikuko Takeda? 
Les produits sont bien reflechis et bien fabriqués. Au niveau design, ce sont des objets entre design industriel et fashion. J’aime bien réfléchir à fond le design jusqu’à ce que ça devienne quelque chose essentiel et en même temps qui est dans la mode. C’est la réflexion sur le dosage de chacun de ces cotés qui me fascine. 
 
Et pour la fabrication, aujourd’hui bien fabriquer devient de plus en plus difficile pour l’industrie qui demande souvent moins cher. Mais en tant qu’une petite marque de luxe, je voudrais essayer de lutter contre ce courant pour la qualité de travail artisanal, en croyant qu’il y a des femmes qui en ont besoin !
 
Est ce votre première entreprise? 
Oui
 
Comment avez vous pû financer votre projet? Cela a t il été aisé? 
J’avais ma propre finance qui a servi de commencer la marque et de développer les premiers prototypes de mes produits. Ensuite j’ai lancé une campagne crowdfunding pour ma première production. Je compte faire la deuxième cette année.
Aimeriez vous étendre votre gamme ou souhaitez vous vous en tenir aux accessoires? 
J’aime bien aussi les bijoux, j’ai beaucoup travaillé pour la création de pièce métallique pour le sac et des accessoires comme porte-clé et charm. Un jour quand la marque sera bien développée, je voudrais bien faire une ligne de bijoux. 
 
Où rêveriez vous d’être dans 5 ans? Des flagship stores à NYC et dans le Marais? 🙂 
Je rêve d’avoir mes produits dans les jolis concept stores à Paris, Tokyo, NYC, Londres…. Et si je peux rêver encore plus loin, oui une petite boutique dans le marais, c’est super !
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Interview: Année, poetic scarves

année foulards

Very excited about publishing our second interview on Un Beau Travail!

Alexia Nokovitch was kind enough to answer our questions about her brand, Année, her creative process as well as what it’s like to be an entrepreneur in the fashion industry.

 

  • Pourriez vous vous présenter? Qui est derrière ce projet? Etes-vous seule ou avez vous une équipe? Aviez vous travaillé dans l’industrie de la mode avant de vous lancer? Who are are you? Who’s behind this project? Do you have a team? Have you ever worked in the fashion industry before?
 
Je m’appelle Alexia Nokovitch, j’ai 29 ans, presque 30 (!)Je suis diplômée en Stylisme-Modélisme (LISAA) et en Communication Visuelle (ECV) et ai fondé ANNEE en 2015 après avoir travaillé pendant deux ans pour une start-up de prêt-à-porter masculin. J’ai deux associés qui me conseillent au quotidien, et des équipes extérieures à la société (usines, ateliers de confection, agents) qui travaillent avec moi depuis deux ans
My name is Alexia Nokovitch, I’m 29, almost 30(!).  I graduated from LISAA fashion school in Paris and from ECV in visual communication and I started ANNEE in 2015 after working for a menswear startup for a couple years. I have two partners who advise me daily, and I work with people outside of the company (factories, workshops, agents etc.)
 
  • Qu’est ce qui vous a poussé à vous lancer dans ce projet? Et pourquoi une marque de foulards? Why did you start this project? Why scarves?
 
Un cocktail de beaucoup de choses. D’abord, le besoin de créer et l’envie d’être libre. C’est un peu mon équation du bonheur, car l’un ne va pas sans l’autre : je suis incapable de créer si je ne me sens pas libre, et je ne me sens pas libre si je ne peux pas créer. Créer ma marque c’était aussi créer ma propre entreprise, et donc, mon rythme à moi, soutenu et efficace, mais aussi rapide et lent, parsemé de challenges, de paris, de risques, de petites victoires quotidiennes. Ensuite, j’avais envie de raconter une histoire. Dans notre monde, je trouve que c’est important qu’il y ait encore de belles histoires à raconter ou à écouter. A travers ANNEE, je ne voulais pas juste créer un produit, je voulais raconter une histoire où le Temps défile… en dessins. Un peu comme un livre d’images où le foulard est une page de cette histoire.  A mix of many things. First of all, the need to create and be free. That’s where my happiness lies, one doesn’t go without the other: I can’t create if I’m not free and if I don’t feel free I can’t create. Creating my brand but also my company, and therefore my own rythm, steady and efficient, but also, slower, full of challenges, bets, risks and small victories. Second of all, I wanted to tell a story. In our world, I think it’s important that there are still stories to tell or listen to. Through Année, I wanted to create a product, but also a story where times flies…as drawings. A bit like a picture book where a scarf would be a page of a story.
 
  • Quelles sont vos sources d’inspiration? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Je m’inspire de tout sauf de la mode, pour préserver une certaine singularité. L’Art reste ma principale source d’inspiration, avec l’architecture et la nature. Et mes voyages. I get inspiration from everything but fashion, I want to ensure my design remain a bit singular. Art is my main source of inspiration, with architecture and nature. And my travels, also.
 
  • A-t-il été aisé de trouver le nom de votre marque? Pourquoi Année? What is hard to find the name of your brand? Why Année (year in French)?
Assez en fait. Je ne voulais pas créer une marque éponyme à cause de mon nom famille qui est Russe. Je suis complètement Française et ne parle pas un mot de Russe ! La confusion aurait été énorme. Et puis je ne tiens pas particulièrement à être mise en avant. Derrière un nom, il y a une personne, derrière un mot, il peut y avoir tout un monde. J’ai fait plusieurs brainstormings autour de ce que j’aimais, et de qui m’intéressait. Omniprésent, le Temps s’est détaché de la liste, comme une obsession. ANNEE c’est donc la mesure abstraite du Temps, et moi cachée derrière : Alexia Nokovitch Née
Quite hard actually. I didn’t want to create an eponymous brand because my last name is Russian. I’m completely French and I do not speak a word of Russian. The confusion would have been huge. And I also don’t really want to be under the spotlight. Behind a name, there’s a person, and behind a word, there can be an entire world. I did several brainstorming sessions around what I liked and what I was interested in. Ever-present was the idea of time, it stood out like an obsession. ANNEE is the abstract measure of time, and hidden behind it is me: Alexia Nokovitch Née (born)
  • Pourquoi maintenir une production française? Why maintain your production in France?
C’est à la fois par fierté et désir d’engagement, et à la fois par esprit de contradiction. J’adore prouver tous les jours de ma vie, que notre génération n’est pas une génération française désabusée et désintéressée par le sens de « l’intérêt général », et que nous portons avec nous une vision du futur de la France très éloignée de tous les clichés qu’on nous colle. Je suis fière de produire mes produits en France. Derrière un foulard ANNEE, et c’est ce qui est beau, il y a presque 10 personnes qui ont contribué à sa fabrication. Car il n’y a pas que moi et mes dessins ! Il y a les directeurs commerciaux de mes usines et ateliers, les coloristes, les ingénieurs textiles, les techniciens, les confectionneurs, les petites mains qui emballent et celles qui expédient. Alors avec ANNEE je ne contribue peut-être pas encore au développement de la France, mais je contribue au moins un tout petit peu au maintien de ses savoir-faire. Out of pride mostly, and I love to prove everyday that my generation is not disconnected from the “common good”, and that our vision of France’s future is far away from all the clichés. I’m proud to produce my scarves in France. Behing every Année product, there are almost 10 people who participated in its creation. Because it’s not just me and my drawings, it’s also the factories and workshops, the textile engineers, the technicians, the manufacturers, the people who pack and ship the products. So with Année, I might not contribute to the development of France but I contribute at least a little to the survival of French craftsmanship.
 
  • En tant que jeune marque, cela a t il été dur de convaincre vos partenaires de travailler avec vous?  As a young brand, was it hard to convince your partners to work with you?
Oui, ça a souvent été dur, et cela arrivera surement encore.
 It was and it will still be the case.
  • Quel a été le plus gros obstacle à votre volonté de produire en France? What was the biggest obstacle when you decided to produce in France?
Au début de la création d’ANNEE, le refus des usines de travailler les petites séries. Quand on commence et que l’on a peu de financement, produire à une échelle industrielle est impossible. Peu d’usines sont enclines à vous aider à vos débuts. J’ai finalement rencontré des partenaires qui m’ont donné ma chance, mais cela n’a pas été facile.
At the beginning of Année, it was the fact that several factories refused to work with us. When you start and you have little means, it’s hard to produce on an industrial scale. Thankfully, I met partners who gave me a chance, but it was not easy.
  • Quel est votre plus grand succès? Et votre plus grand échec? What’s your biggest success? Your biggest failure?
Je ne sais pas vraiment. Mon plus grand succès c’est sûrement de continuer 🙂 I don’t really know. My biggest success is probably to be able to keep going 🙂
 
  • Qu’est ce qui distingue et caractérise les produits Année? What’s special about Année’s products?
Les foulards ANNEE se distinguent d’abord graphiquement. Les compositions sont asymétriques, souvent épurées, centrales, contrairement aux imprimés habituels dans l’univers du foulard. Ensuite, stylistiquement, les foulards ANNEE sont hybrides, versatiles. Avec des dimensionnels uniques, qui s’adaptent à vos coiffures, à votre taille ou à votre cou. Our scarves look very different. Compositions are asymetrical, pared down, central, unlike what you usually find in other scarf brands. We also use peculiar dimensions so that our scarves can be used in hairdos, around your waist or your neck.
  • Est ce votre première entreprise? Is it your first company?
Oui ! Yes!
  • Comment avez vous pû financer votre projet? Cela a t il été aisé? How did you fund you business? Was it easy?
Grace à mes associés qui ont investit dans la société pour que nous puissions démarrer. Thanks to my business partners who invested in the company so we could start.
 
  • Pensez vous qu’il est facile d’être entrepreneur en France? Do you think it’s easy to start a business in France?
Je pense que ça n’est pas facile d’être un entrepreneur en France mais aussi ailleurs. C’est le jeu. Mais il y a beaucoup de métiers qui ne sont pas faciles, nous n’avons pas le monopole ! It’s not easy, here or elsewhere, but that’s the name of game. There are a lot of jobs that are not easy, we do not have the monopoly!
 
  • Aimeriez vous étendre votre gamme ou souhaitez vous vous en tenir aux foulards? Would you like to expand your range or would you like to stick to scarves?
Oui, nous souhaitons étendre nos gammes ! Cela commencera dès septembre, avec la sortie de notre nouvelle collection ! We’re already expanding! It will start as soon as september, with our new collection!
  • Où rêveriez vous d’être dans 5 ans? Des flagship stores à NYC et dans le Marais? 🙂 Where would you love to be in  years? A flagship in NYC or in the Marais?
Dans 5 ans, j’aimerais avoir ouvert notre première boutique, effectivement le Marais serait un super emplacement, mais ça pourrait être aussi le 9ème. In 5 years, we would have our own store hopefully, the Marais would be great, but it could be the ninth.
 
  • Quelque chose à ajouter? Un conseil aux futurs entrepreneurs? Anything to add? A piece of advice for wannabe entrepreneurs?
Oui, un seul : Entreprenez ! 😉
Only one: go for it! 😉
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Atelier Le Gagneur: leather + linen = cool bags

Quality, elegance, durability: a few words to describe Atelier Le Gagneur, a new accessories line.

Atelier Le Gagneur is a young French brand of accessories, founded in Normandy by Mathilde Le Gagneur, a Central Saint Martins graduate.

At 30 years old, she left Paris two years ago and a dream job as a Louis Vuitton designer to go back to her roots and start her line of accessories. The bags are made in Normandy with local raw materials such as Belgian linen and vegetable tanned leather and elegantly showcase French savoir faire.

The direct to customer business model allows the brand to offer the best value to the final consumer. The first collection includes two bags, in two colors: a backpack and a bucket bag.

atelier le gagneur

atelier le gagneur
atelier le gagneur

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Anja Paris: feminine swimwear

Anja Paris is the brainchild of Alexandra Thiltgès, fellow IFM graduate and a former cosmetics marketing manager. Tired of not finding elegant, affordable and durable swimsuits, she decided to tackle that challenge herself. 

The brand's ethos is based on five pilars: sensuality, softness, elegance, personality and charm based on a small study she conducted on what feminity meant nowadays.

After a successful Ulule campaign where she exceeded her goals by over 300%, the brand was launched and is on its way to becoming a staple in all of the parisian belles summer wardrobes. The swimsuits are made in Portugal, a country renowned for the quality of its craftsmanship and the fabrics come from Spain and italy and are chlorine, salt and sun resistant. 

Extra points for the color choice, which suit the company's pilars to a T: eggplant, forest green, mustard, raspberry, navy blue.

Price are very reasonable given the quality (about 100€ for a complete set).

Discover their products on the brands eshop!

ANJA PARIS – ULULE from Alexandra Thiltges on Vimeo.

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Roundup: European made summer shoes

european made summer shoes

A selection of European made summer shoes, because giving up fast fashion should be your new resolution.

From the top, clockwise.

european made summer shoes

Arlena Adriatico by Mint and Rose – 149€ (on sale!) – Made in Spain

Gabby by Aska Collection – $395 – Made in Italy

The Summer Staple by Essen – 229€ – Made in Portugal

Boreas Lace up by Ouklele – 100€ (on sale!) – Made in Spain

June heel denim by Magro Cardona – 156€ – Made in Spain

 

 

 

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Interviewing: Anna & Laura, from SANDER VON RHEIN

Sander von rhein

Sander von rhein

Laura Keil and Anna Bermes of Sander von Rhein

The setting was your typical Parisian café and the time was well into the afternoon, but not late enough to escape the smoldering heat that fell over the city. I was right on time for our meeting (I live next door), but my guests were early.

Laura Keil and Anna Bermes are German, in their late twenties and are the founders of uber-cool leather goods brand, SANDER VON RHEIN. I can also confirm Germans did not steal their reputation in punctuality. They were gracious enough to give me an hour of their time, out of their busy schedule as we sat down at Marcel et Clémentine, a very cute café in my neighborhood.

Sander Von Rhein

02 Caro in Ruby

Originally from the opposite sides of Germany (Eastern and Western Germany), Laura and Anna met in college while studying fashion and then went on to work for Escada and Karl Lagerfeld, respectively. After failing to find a durable, good looking laptop bag, they decided to make one, which is usually how good ideas and businesses are born. By identifying a gap and filling it, which they are doing brilliantly.

Laptop bags are usually cheap, ugly looking and regular bags are not fit to carry your pricey laptop. Sander Von Rhein helps you solve this conendrum by offering durable, timeless, luxurious laptop bags and backpacks that will fit your needs. Anna and Laura understand balance and how it translates in their creations: luxurious yet understated, sturdy yet refined.

Think Samsonite meets Hermés.

Sander Von Rhein

04 Pixie in denim

They've been working on their brainchild for a full year now, quit their jobs and are now dedicated full time to the business. Relatives coworkers, and friends being equally supportive of their endeavour, they set their sight on Paris and are looking to move here for the foreseeable future. 

Now back to their wares. Everything is made in Portugal, which is renowned for the quality of its leatherwork, with Italian and portugueuse leather. The craftsmanship behind their collections reminds me of Lotuff, which I talked about in an old article.

You can find them on their online store and at popup stores throughout Europe such as Kodd Korner and MUDAM in Luxemburg (this weekend!)

 

 

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Norman Walsh, British Made Footwear

Norman Walsh footwear made in the UK

Headquartered near Manchester in Bolton, Lancashire, Norman Walsh's story begins in 1945 when a 14-year-old teenager left school to begin a shoe making apprenticeship at J.W. Foster and Sons, which would later become Reebok. Three years later, Norman Walsh was chosen to make many of the shoes worn by the British Olympic team for the 1948 Olympics that took place in London. The company was officially established in 1961 and has been supplying athletes from many disciplines  such rugby, track and field, cricket, boxing or even wrestling with top notch footwear ever since.

Now owned by the Crompton family since 1996, the company saw its popularity soar and now has retailers in far-flung corners of the earth such as Korea, Russia or Chile. Norman Walsh is the only 100% British owned and operated company still in activity.

Teaming up with Marks and Spencer, the company even created a range for their Best of British collection launching in October.

The video below offers a great insight in the manufacturing process (you should definitely lower the volume though).

Norman Walsh footwear made in the UK

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Danielle Sakry, American made leather goods

Danielle Sakry american made leather goods

I almost never remember where and when I first heard about a particular brand, but I always make sure to keep it on file. In the case of this brand, I was scrolling down my NUJI feed for some inspiration, when the cute bucket bag below caught my eyes. I actually used it on my social media headers, alongside other neat products. 

Danielle Sakry is a 3-year old Minnesota-based brand that offers American made leather goods. The designer, who gave her name to the brand, has a background in law and slowly made the transition to fashion after playing with a few pieces of scrap leather (which gives me hope as I'm currently taking leather goods making classes in Paris). The brand was also a 2014 finalist of Martha Stewart's American made contest.

You can take a sneak peek at their studio and manufacturing process here

Danielle Sakry american made leather goods

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Massalia, French-made leather sandals

Massalia French made leather sandals

Hello, blogging world. I'm back from my 4-month long laziness induced hiatus.

In order to properly celebrate this comeback, I thought it would be fitting to focus on a French brand (as I'm French) and more specifically, from my region (Provence).

Massalia is a brand new label that produces well designed and easy to wear leather sandals. Their products are made out of vegetable-tanned leather, which means that the whole tanning process is respectful of the environment and took almost two years to achieve. I still don't understand why we do not make this process mandatory for all the leather goods produced and imported in France and Europe.

Apparently, I'm not the only one swooning over those beauties!  Massalia is a year old and already has retailers in Japan (full list here).

Below my selection of favorite designs. There are not many for now, but I'm sure the range will get wider as the brand grows. I'll make sure to try on a pair (and maybe buy one!) as soon as I go home to visit my family.

The shoes retail for under 100€ which is very reasonable in my opinion, especially when you think about the mass produced alternatives flooding the market (think Zara).

Massalia French made leather sandals

 

 

 

 

 

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American Made Menswear Under $100

American made finds under $100

American Made Finds under $100

A selection of the best American made menswear finds under $100:

Lyonstate Chambray Button Down Shirt – $91 – Made in New England

Archival Clothing Navy Waxed Field Bag – $89 – Made in Oregon

Wassookeag Moccasins – $115  (yes, above $100, I know) – Made in Maine

Filson Initial Cap – $54 – Made in USA

Lyonstate Sanded Canvas Short – $45 – Made in New York

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Introducing: S.E.H Kelly, British-made menswear

S.E.H Kelly

S.E.H Kelly is a London- based menswear brand founded in 2009 by Paul Vincent and Sara Kelly which ethos is to make everything in the British Isles and apply Savile row clothes making standards to casual wear. They honor trusted materials such as Shetland wool, Harris tweed or Irish linen, but the most interesting part is their approach to garment making. S.E.H Kelly is more than just a brand, it's a network of suppliers and craftsmen, mills and factories committed to perpetuating traditional British clothes making. Their designs are extremely simple, stripped from anything remotely superfluous.

In spite of its vintage (some might say old) look, the founders vision is to create workwear for today, not the 19th century. Prices are steep, but I could definitely see their clothes being worn for decades, unlike disposable, fast fashion. Their care and painstaking attention to detail are what made them so popular in far-flung places such as Japan (their biggest market).
Please go to their website and read more about the makers, it's well worth the time.

I know it's supposed to be menswear, but it looks a hell of a lot like my ideal wardrobe. 

S.E.H Kelly S.E.H Kelly

Below is a great interview of S.E.H Kelly co-founder, Paul Vincent.

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Introducing: Tracksmith, US-made sports apparel

Tracksmith

Let me make one thing clear, I do not exercise. I only run for my life and that seldom happens. However, I'm admirative of all the people who wake up at ungodly hours and brave the elements to get their rush of endorphins. There's just one thing I don't understand: why do they need to do so in the least appealing, worst fitting clothing? 

Those times are over thanks to Tracksmith, a young New England-based performance apparel company. They use the best materials available such as fabrics from the Schoeller mill in Switzerland and Steele canvas fabric for their bags, while their products are being manufactured in Massachusetts-based factories (Falls River and Bedford to be more specific). Tracksmith blends high-performance clothing with a preppy, Ivy League look, indeed, their lookbook looks like a Dartmouth track team photo from the 1960s. More good news, women running gear will hit the digital shelves this spring.

Icing on the cake, Tracksmith relies on a direct to consumer business model which means no middlemen, which in turn means lower prices. You can also find an in-depth review from an actual runner here.

Tracksmith

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Introducing: Du Travail Traditionnel, French-made sneakers

Du Travail Traditionnel footwear

I know  for a fact that a lot of you won't ever ditch your pair of Stan Smith or Converse. But for those of you out there seeking an alternative that's not found on everyone's feet or made by South East Asian kids earning in a month what you earn in a few hours, I present you with Du Travail Traditionnel (DUTT, which means "Some traditional work" in French). 

These beauties are handmade in France by adults (how rare is that) and feature natural rubber soles and Calfskin leather. Production has been centralized in the Dordogne region (western France) and the vast majority of the components Du Travail Traditionnel uses are sourced from France (including the boxes!). The brand was founded about 3 years ago by a then 24-year-old entrepreneur, Morgan, whose goal was to maintain traditional French savoir-faire (know-how). Mission accomplished, as dozens of thousands of pairs come out of French shoemaking factories every year thanks to his perseverance and business flair.

Keep up the good work!

The price point is very reasonable, around 120€ for a pair, which is lower than the latest Nikes or Adidas retail for and are currently only offered for men (except if you're a woman with big feet like me, in which case there's hope). 

Du Travail Traditionnel footwear

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Introducing: Lika Mimika, Spanish made footwear

Let me introduce you to Lika Mimika a German-based footwear brand that makes their products in Alicante, southern Spain using environmentally friendly materials and processes during the dyeing and tanning of their leathers and manufacturing of their shoes. I always thought canvas fabric could feel a little too flimsy or light so I love the idea of leather espadrilles which look sturdier and more refined. Icing on the cake: they're unisex so the fellas out there won't feel left out.

My original intent was to talk about furniture and appliances, but I changed my mind. You see, ever since I moved to Paris in late October, the weather has been grey, rainy and overall, gloomy.

Except for today, when the sun finally decided to make a (lasting) appearance in honor of the coming spring. Then I realized I only had three pairs of shoes, none of them befitting this warmer-but-not-yet-hot climate. A pair of high top sneakers, G.H. Bass penny loafers, and a pair of sandals, nothing really trans-seasonal. So thank you Lika Mimika for providing said missing link!

Me gusta mucho.

ELEPHANT  Goat Suede  Espadrilles LIKA MIMIKA

WOVEN BLACK  Flat Loafer LIKA MIMIKA

CINNAMON  Calf Suede  Snow Boot LIKA MIMIKA

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Introducing: Shinola, Detroit made watches and bikes

SHINOLA RUNWELL

Based out of the 30,000 square foot, fifth floor of a former General Motors auto research lab, Shinola has in just a few short years branded themselves as an American made precision and quality manufacturer of watches, bicycles, and leather goods. Following mass layoffs, furloughed auto industry workers were trained by Swiss and Thai watchmakers in the art of horology and for the first time in decades, you can own an American made timepiece.

My friend recently purchased the Runwell which has a classic look. It comes in a wooden box, and it included a hand written note from the watchmaker thanking you for the purchase and keeping motor city employed.  The watch has a sturdy feel with a stainless steel body and a crystal sapphire face to keep scratch free and looking good. 

THE RUNWELL CHRONO 47mm

SHINOLA RUNWELL

THE RUNWELL CONTRAST CHRONO 41mm

SHINOLA THE RUNWELL CONTRAST CHRONO 41mm

 

THE BIXBY

SHINOLA BIXBY BICYCLE

SIGNATURE DUFFLE BAG

They diversified their offering to include stationary, pet supplies (such as collars and toys), home goods and even apparel. They don't make most of these products themselves but they are all made in the USA.

Shinola also offers a line of leather goods such as this wonderful duffle bag made out of Horween leather.

SHINOLA SIGNATURE DUFFLE BAG

 

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Selection: 8 American-made neckties

Made in USA ties

Made in USA ties

General Knot & Co. 

Made in New England – $88

 

Peter Field Custom

Made in Chicago – $65

Peter Field Custom Syderstone tie

Beau Ties Ltd

Made in Vermont – $60

Beau Ties Ltd

Glendon Lambert

Made in Brooklyn, NY – $85

CyberOptixTieLab

Made in Detroit – $45

Cyberoptix Topographical ties

 

Collared Greens 

Made in New York City – $85

Collared Greens tie

Mountain & Sackett

Made in New York – $62.50

Williams Stripe Blue Mountain and Sackett

High Cotton

Made in North Carolina – $85

High Cotton Ties

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Introducing: La Botte Gardiane, French boot making company

La Botte Gardiane is a French boot making company located in Villetelle in the Camargue region, a small village between Nîmes, where the word Denim comes from, and Montpellier (and pretty close to where I grew up!). The company has been in activity since 1958 and is a Certified Living Heritage business since 2007 (more info about that here).

"Botte" means boot and "gardiane" comes from the word gardian which is the French equivalent of an American cowboy or an Argentinian gaucho (great video about the history of gardians here).

La Botte Gardiane is the only company in France that's still specialized in "French cowboy" boots. Would you imagine Texas having only one boot maker left? Frightening, I know. Over twenty craftsmen work for the company and their goods are made solely using chrome-free leathers from the Alsace region but also Belgian and Italian ones. There are 60 steps to the making of one pair of boots and the whole process takes 3 hours. The process hasn't been altered for the past 50 years. Being originally designed and created for herdsmen, La Botte Gardiane's products boast a great sturdiness as well as a high degree of comfort.

La Botte Gardiane managed to handle the challenges of a globalized economy after being in a difficult financial position for years. Indeed, half of its turnover is made outside of France, with retailers all over the globe, from Japan to the USA.

Prices begin at 120€ for sandals and 250€ for boots

Here's a video about the boot making process (you can understand most of what's going on even if you don't speak French).

 

 

 

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Introducing: Maison Causse, French glove making company

causse gantier gloves

Founded in 1892 by three brothers, Maison Causse is the oldest glove making company in France. Located in Millau, a center for glove making known throughout the world (Maison Fabre and Lavabre Cadet are also located there with Causse being the oldest), the company employs 40 people and produces 25,000 pairs of men, women and driving gloves per year. Now, the fourth generation of Causse is managing the company, even though it was bought by Chanel in 2012 as a way to preserve crafts and techniques that would be on the verge of disappearing were it not for a powerful financial backing.

Maison Causse is also committed to preserving its savoir faire. Indeed, their factory boasts a glove making school so, if you're thinking about quitting your dead-end job for something more meaningful, well, there you go and Bienvenue en France. 

Talking about driving gloves, if I ever get a driving licence, I think I'll get driving gloves before I even get a car. Yes, I know, my priorities are in perfect order.

It's not the first time I mention those gloves, they were featured in my "Gearing up for winter" post and you can find below some of their creations.

 

causse gantier gloves causse gantier gloves

Average price: 250€

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Introducing: American Giant, US-made sweatshirts and tees

american giant sweatshirt

After a long, arduous quest I finally found my style Holy Grail (hyperbole, much?). Anyways, it's classic, affordable and Made in the USA!

Dear reader, I present you with, American Giant's Men's Baseball Jacket.

It's made of 100% cotton, heavyweight fleece, reinforced stitching for extra strength and its interior is brushed for added loft and softness. It's made in California and North Carolina-based factories out of American cotton and retails for $89. Yes, eighty-nine dollars.

The women's version exists but I find it to be too closely fitted for my taste.

 

San Francisco-based American Giant was founded in early 2012 by Bayard Winthrop and sells a line of basic apparel, for men and women, ranging from tees to sweatshirts to sweatpants.

Prices are kept low (compared to competitors) by having a direct to consumers approach (no middlemen, no retail store, online only). This business model seems to be gaining a lot of ground lately as it allows entrepreneurs to offer better quality products at more accessible prices. AG also relies on word of mouth and media coverage to reach potential customers instead of a bloated marketing budget.

A Slate article even called one of their product "the greatest hoodie of all times", which caused AG's inventory to be wiped clean in 36 hours.The company's CEO called this article the best thing that happened to its company which shows how important it is to reach potential customers through the proper channels (a Slate article rather than a billboard on I-95).

 

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Introducing: Laulhère, French made berets since 1840

laulhère beret

Originally created by shepherds from the Béarn region (hence its name) to protect themselves from the damp, the béret is now a deeply ingrained part of French DNA alongside baguettes and Gauloises cigarettes. 

Located in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, Laulhère was founded in 1840 by Mr. Lucien Laulhère and is now the last standing historic béret maker after the company acquired its almost 200 years old competitor, Blancq-Olibet, in 2013. Let the irony sink in. A quintessentially French headgear is on the verge of disappearing from the French manufacturing landscape when, up until the late 80's, the country churned out millions of bérets a year. Since 2011, the factory was awarded a NATO military contract which helped get the company back to a healthy financial situation (military contracts represent half of the company's turnover).

I've owned a Laulhère béret for a few months now and I've worn it almost every day (I live in Paris, it's cold and wet out here). I love it and I'm happy to contribute, within the scope of my modest means, to the revival of French manufacturing. I paid 20€ for my 100% virgin wool béret which is probably cheaper than a lot of Asian made copies from big brand names.

Lovely video of the manufacturing process below:

 And this pretty cool one from Monocle.

 

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Introducing: Lotuff, New England made leather goods

lotuff bags

Lotuff is a small, Rhode Island-based leather goods brand that offers a pretty impressive range of leather accessories. Made by hand in their New England workshop, they only use the finest vegetable leathers (the rarest type) as well as a seldom paralelled attention to details. Unlike what you may think when you first land on Lotuff's website, this is a pretty young brand and not an older one that just reemerged, like Chief Trunk did. Lotuff was founded in 2009 by two brothers who were deeply inspired by their father's and grandfather's commitment to quality as the heads of US based manufacturing companies.

 Their products are unbranded (but they can be embossed) and that's a big plus for me as I hate feeling like I'm a walking billboard. I've been carrying around an old Coach bag (pre logo craze) made out of the thickest leather I've ever seen and I paid $20 for it in a thrift store. If I ever feel like replacing it, I'll go for a Lotuff or something similar (like this Pickett bag).

The bags below look like something I could take on an adventure (good thing these beauties are guaranteed for life).

Pretty cool video below of the making of a bag, from leather hide to finished product.

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Introducing: Bills Khakis, American made menswear

Bill Khakis

After Tennessee, New Jersey and Massachusetts, let's explore the best Pennsylvania has to offer.

I did not have to look for long until I stumbled upon Bills Khakis (among many other interesting things).

The story behind the brand is pretty inspiring. The company founder, Bill Thomas found a pair of WWII khakis in a military surplus store that made any modern day equivalent pale in comparison. In 1990 he decided to quit his advertising job in Chicago and move back to his hometown of Reading, PA, to start a clothing company.With only a few thousand dollars and a slew of part time jobs (what we, wannabe entrepreneurs call "bridge jobs"), he started Bill Khakis. 

Which now boast 32 employees and 500 retailers.

Located in the heart of Reading, Bills Khakis is a prime example of how of a 21st century business can compete in a city built on 20th century economy. 

Head over to their website and you'll be delighted with the wide range of cuts and fabrics to choose from. From twill to poplin, linen to cashmere, you're bound to find something that will suit your tastes.

They also expanded their offering by selling coats, knitwear, jeans, shirt and accessories.

The products shown below are currently on sale (pants: $87.50, cardigan: $205, shirt: $87.50)

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Introducing: Atelier Particulier, French accessories brand

Atelier Particulier

telier Particulier is a French accessories brand founded in 2013. Currently offering four categories of products (ties, scarves, belts and socks) made in Italy and Switzerland, the brand showcases the best of luxury craftsmanship at accessible prices (Loro Piana cashmere and wool ties retail for 45€, wool and leather belts for 50€). 

They manage to achieve this result by getting rid of intermediaries, offering their products only through their e-shop and not spending a dime on advertisement.

See below for an explanation of their business model (similar to Everlane), even for non-French speakers, it's pretty straightforward.

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Introducing: Hardwick Clothes, Tennessee made menswear

Hardwick clothes

Hardwick Clothes (originally known as Cleveland Woolen Mills) was founded in the late 19th century and is still located and operated in the South (Cleveland, Tennessee to be more specific). The company is the oldest maker of tailored clothing in America and its mission is to provide their male customers with high-quality American-made clothing.

Mission accomplished since 1880.

The company was owned by the Harwick family until June of this year, when businessman Allan Jones acquired it, on the verge of bankruptcy. He said about Harwick's, "the company has survived two major fires, two World Wars, the Great Depression, leisure suits, NAFTA and – worst of all – making us watch China manufacture our Olympic team’s blazers.” 

The company employs about 240 employees.

More information about their history here.

HARDWICK CLOTHES

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Introducing: Sterlingwear of Boston, American made coats

Sterlingwear of Boston

Sterlingwear of Boston's story starts in 1965 as Viking Clothing, until the acquisition of Sterlingwear, then a rainwear manufacturer with a solid sales team and experience in distribution management. Run by the Fredella family ever since, the company thrived and has been the official purveyor of the US Navy peacoats for over 40 years.

The company is based in East Boston, MA and employs over 250 people in the New England area.

Their commercial line boasts the same attention to details as the coats they manufacture for US servicemen and women: densely woven virgin wool (80% to 100% of the fabric content depending on the model), flannel-lined pockets, heavy weight satin lining, a high stitch count to ensure a tight bond between the coats components (10 to 12 stitches per inch), authentic anchor buttons and all of that, complying with the exact quality control standards issued by the US government.

Ninety percent of the company's revenue come from DOD contracts so it's understandable that they would want to diversify their customer base by opening brick and mortar stores in the Northeast, an eshop, and take on wholesale accounts.

You can watch a video made L.L. Bean (for which they created a couple coats) here.

The Navigator 100% Wool Peacoat is featured below is priced at about $265. Not much higher than poorly-made, imported coats from big brand names.

 

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Introducing: Todd Shelton, American made menswear

Todd Shelton

Todd Shelton founded his homonymous brand in 2002 and has been steadily growing ever since. While not a household name yet, the brand is one of the few on the market that designs, manufactures and sells directly to consumers through their e-commerce website. American Apparel does the same thing, but they also rely on a high number of brick-and-mortar stores (even my small, southern France hometown has its own AA store). Todd Shelton is based out of East Rutherford, New Jersey which is a short ride from NYC. Factory tours are available and I resent myself for not knowing about this earlier. 

Besides its singular business model, Todd Shelton's particularity is, what I would call, a no BS aesthetics. No frills, no over bleached or torn fabrics, no loud prints and colors. Just classic designs paired with quality materials, a subdued color palette and punctilious stitching. In its own words, Todd Shelton's collections are defined by consistency and purpose, the latter eliminating the superfluous.

The shirt and jeans below are on sale for  $69 (each!) and the Merino wool sweater for $79.

todd shelton

 

 

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Introducing: Shuron, South Carolina made eyeglasses

Shuron

Shuron Ltd is based out of Greenville, South Carolina since 1865 and is one of America's oldest eyeglasses manufacturers (if not the oldest). You probably saw their frames on plenty of Hollywood actors' noses, from Kevin Costner in the 1991 JFK movie to Michael Douglas in Falling Down. Furthermore, their Ronsir Zyl frame accounted for half of all eyeglasses sales in the 50's which gives you an idea of how big and prominent Shuron really is. The funny thing, this model is as elegant and appropriate now as it was half a century ago.

Shuron's factory still employs about 80 employees and produces about 10,000 frames per month. According to Charles Whitehill, Shuron's current owner, their secret to longevity is "if it's not broke, don't fix it", which seems to be a pretty effective business model.

So please ditch your $5 dollars drug store glasses and invest in a real pair made by hand from high-quality materials (and that's also backed by a one-year manufacturing warranty against any defects). 

See below for models available at Morrison, a Belgium-based store (about 200€ for a pair of sunglasses).

And if you're not willing to take advice from me, take them from the ever stylish Malcolm X.

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Introducing: Dehen 1920, Portland-made outerwear

Dehen 1920 Varsity Jackets

Dehen was founded in 1920 by a German immigrant, William Peter Dehen, who moved to the States in 1903. After holding several jobs at knitting factories on the West coast, and smuggling liquor from Canada during the Prohibition (side business for which he did a short stint in jail), Willam Dehen started his own business which boomed until the Depression hit. When the bank foreclosed his factory, he paid a night time visit to the facility and moved all the equipment to his house basement where he kept making his products, selling them door to door, sometimes accepting food as payment. By 1936, his business was back on track, as school sweater and work apparel orders were piling up.

Noteworthy fact: the Dehens hired Otto Rutherford, an African American worker at a time when it was still newsworthy to do so and he ended being a master knitter and played a part in getting a key anti-discrimination bill passed by the Oregon legislature

While the US textile market was starting to get flooded with cheap, disposable, Asian made goods, Dehen survived by focusing on quality and craftsmanship and customers looking for custom manufacturing as well as exceptional service.

Dehen 1920 is the retail line of Dehen Knitting Company and it offers reproductions of original pieces manufactured during the past 94 years, even though the length and patterns have been updated for a more contemporary fit (learn more here).

The varsity jackets below feature Pendleton 24 oz melton wool, American bison leather sleeves and pocket welts, 100% worsted wool trims, a quilted lining and a snap front closure. Prices are high (over $500 for a jacket) but it's definitely on my bucket list of things to get. I've noticed they have no retailers in France so I guess that will be my opportunity to shine if I ever decide to open my own store (my not-so-secret dream).

I'll take these over a Coach bag any time.

 

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Introducing: Norman Porter Jeans, Philly made denim

norman porter jeans

Norman Porter is a denim and leather goods brand based out of Fishtown, a Northern Philadephia neighborhood and founded by two brothers and one of their friends. Read an interview of one the founders here.

At the turn of the 20th century, Philly was one of the world's textile capitals, fast forward to the 21st and this is a long gone memory (read more here). If you tried to dress yourself exclusively in Philadelphia made clothing and accessories, you would probably go around half naked.

Half, because Norman Porter's got your butt…err, your back.

Featuring North Carolina-made Cone Mills denim and Japanese selvedge denim, a classic, straight cut, no scratches, no bleaching, no weird stitching, their jeans nail the super clean aesthetics. Also, they age beautifully (see an example below).

Their products are currently available in five stores as well as their e-shop.

Would pair well with your Eagles jersey, if only NFL jerseys weren't made in South East Asia.

Norman Porter jeans

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Introducing: Moore Boxer Shorts, Pittsburgh-made underwear

moore boxer shorts

Moore Boxer Shorts is company founded in 2013 by Tim Moore, a then senior year student at the University of Pittsburgh.

Featuring premium, 100% cotton Japanese shirting fabric (pinpoint oxford) as well as American made thread and elastics, the brand's goal is to offer comfortable, well made boxer shorts manufactured in the USA (the production facility is in the Millvale neighborhood of Pittsburgh).

As the founder could not meet the high order minimums US based manufacturers asked for, he began to sew them himself, which involved a lot of trial-and-error, including sticking a needle through his thumb. 

To all the guys out there: if your current array of boxer shorts is baggy, distented, and features characters your little brother is watching, it's time to join the grown ups club, and a pair of Moore's might just be your membership card.

As they have a vertically integrated business model, their products are only available on their website for $25 a pair and are offered in two colors (light blue and light pink). Moreover, if you sign up for their newsletter, you'll get a 20% discount on your first order.

Read more here (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

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Introducing: Delicate Run, made in France luxury sneakers

delicate run

Think about the 80s. Nothing classy, huh?

Well, dear reader, think again.

Delicate Run is a French brand of sneakers founded by sneakerhead Vincent Vetois. The brand currently offers only one model, the Manta, which was launched in partnership with Melbourne-based store Up There. Solely using high quality materials and rare exotic skins such as python, lizard, stingray or even shark (the most prevalent ones being French calf and goat leathers), the entire production takes place in France and the aesthetics of the brand can only be described as "80s running shoes meet contemporary luxury footwear", which is appropriate as the brand's mission is to offer a luxury reinterpretation of the classic running shape.Their goal is not to foray into performance running shoes, but to focus on bringing to the market high-end, long-lasting luxury sneakers with a great shape.

A successful bet that was.

Watch below a pretty interesting video about the manufacturing process of the Delicate Run Manta.

Price vary between 192€ and 420€ and each pair comes with a wooden box.

 

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Introducing: Chippewa Boots, US made footwear

chippewa boots

Chippewa Boots, originally known as Chippewa Shoe Manufacturing Company was founded in 1901 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin as a manufacturer of work, snow and rain footwear.

Their boots represent a perfect alternative to Chinese made Timberland boots, which came under fire from Greenpeace activists for potentially supporting slave labor, destroying Amazon rain forest and exacerbating global warming. Yes, apparently all of that simultaneously. (Read the Harvard Business Review article here)

The boots feature a full-grain leather upper, Drill Vamp lining made from a material designed to help, waxed cotton laces and Vibram soles. Some of their models also feature steel toes for those of you who actually perform some physical work.​

Price range: $120 to $350

Pairs well with the American Trench previously presented on Un Beau Travail.

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Introducing: Parapluie Paris, French made umbrellas

If you're anything like me, you probably wasted a pretty hefty amount of money on umbrellas. Fabric tearing, shaft bending, stretchers breaking. I probably threw away a dozen of them and I don't even come from a particularly rainy region. 

After the last one broke, I started thinking there had to be a better alternative. Better made, better looking, sturdier and not made in China.

Enters le Parapluie Paris a young brand of umbrellas. Their products are made in a French factory active since World War II and are of the highest quality. Prices are aslo pretty high, but not higher than the sum of what you probably wasted so far.

Side note: forget about this option if you tend to be absentminded, better lose one crappy Chinese made umbrella than its luxurious French made counterpart.

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Introducing: Concord Button Downs, American made shirts

concord button downs

Founder Dan Castelline started Concord Button Downs as a tribute to New England, with shirts cut and sewn in a Massachusetts facility and a look that incorporates characteristics found in traditional Ivy Leagues attire. The shirts feature a tailored, traditional fit, a rear box pleat, adjustable round barrel cuffs and are made in the USA of 100% untreated cotton. The shirts go through a 65-step fabrication process that meticulously covers every detail from button holes to barrel cuffs. 

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Write This Down: Notebook Selection

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Topographical Decomposition book by Michael Roger, $8, Made in USA

Silver and Navy pocketbook by Tom Pigeon, £5, Made in the UK

Pixel notebook by Papier Tigre, €14, Made in France

Small Blue Hardcover notebook by Ogami Stone, $13, Made in Italy

Medium Potato notebook by Compagnie du Kraft, €25, Made in France

Granito notebook by Oelwein, €12.6, Made in France

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Introducing: Passavant and Lee, American made luxury briefcases

Passavant and Lee

I think I should create a new category for my blog: "Over the top".

Because this company's brief cases are over the top in every possible way: from the craftsmanship to the price and the materials used.

Every possible way except one: their timeless, understated elegance.

Passavant and Lee is a men's accessories brand developed by Jon Passavant and Benj Lee who launched -—after three years of development—a briefcase made out of the finest materials: aircraft grade aluminum, full grain Horween leather and entirely handmade by British and American craftsmen. The interior is made of fine suede and silk with leather trims, and can welcome a 15-inch laptop. The only way to make it more luxurious would be to have a Champagne dispenser.

Cost: $2,850

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Introducing: Industry Standard NY, US made jeans

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Industry Standard NY is a new denim brand founded by Nicole Najafi. A bridge between the east and the west coasts, based in NYC and made in LA, the brand's vision is to offer the perfect pair of jeans without breaking the bank. How do they achieve that? Thanks to their direct to customer model, which allows them to cut down the final price of their products. 

I have to say, I'm a denim snob. Thrift shopping is one of my favorite pastimes and I have several brand new looking, US made J Brand jeans that I paid a maximum of $15. So when a new denim brand comes around, I'm always eager to learn more about it.

Industry Standard NY jeans come in three different models (Margot, Odette and Simone, how very retro) and the price point is accessible at about $100 (after all, some Gap jeans can cost as much as $80, for a much lower quality).

Bonus point: made alongside the greatest LA made denim brands, Industry Stantard uses fabrics from the Cone Denim Mill, which is the oldest, still-running denim mill in the USA, located in Greensboro, NC.

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Introducing: Kaehler1920, American made leather goods

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It's always interesting to discover a century old brand and realize nobody really knows about it. Google Kaehler1920 and you won't find much. The Chicago-based fine leather goods brand was founded in 1920 by locksmith Walter Gustav Kaehler. After witnessing an increase in trunks lock repairs, Walter Kaehler set up shop and decided to create better travel goods to provide its customers with.

Bonus point: Kaehler1920 products are still made in Chicago using leather from the world renowned Chicago-based Horween Leather tannery.

Also, the company operates 6 stores in Chicagoland focused on providing the best travel goods brand such as German-made Rimowa or US made Ghurka.

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Introducing: Väska, Spanish made minimalistic leather goods

vaska Spanish made leather goods

Väska, name after the Swedish word for bag, is a Barcelona based leather goods brand founded in 2012 by Ann-Sofi Storbacka. The brand solely uses vegetable tanned cow leather (no heavy metals)  from cattle raised in Catalonia. The products are 100% handmade and take their sleek and timeless look from the Nordic heritage of the designer, but also from the Iberian craftsmanship that made this line a reality. The particularity of these bags is the fact that they use no stitching, but are built like leather origamis. The line features natural, muted colors, except for a wonderful Royal Blue (something close to the International Klein Blue).

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Winter gear: the best finds

gearing up for winter

gearing up for winterJackie gloves by Causse 169€ – Made in France

Harvest Navy 100% wool hat by Yellow108 $90 – Made in the USA

Voilure II 100 % wool Refer jacket by Saint James 257.50€ – Made in France

Graphic Silk Diamond Print Scarf by Mury £140 – Made in Italy

La Muse Cognac boots by Bobbies 170€ – Made in Portugal

The Rose in Resin jeans by Baldwin Denim $187 – Made in the  USA

Jaden Mohair sweater by Masscob 238€

 

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Luxury gift ideas for the modern gentleman

men gift guide

men gift guide

1- M12 Swiss-made stainless steel and leather watch by Miansai $495

2- Rosewood and steel single blade lock-back knife by Scout Seattle $112 – Made in the USA

3- V3 Navy card holder by Vianel $220 – Made in the USA

4- Blue selvedge chambray shirt by Ratio Clothing $149 – Made in the USA

5- VK-1 Classic Edition headphones by Aëdle $499 – Made in France

 

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Introducing: Chief Trunk, American made luxury travel goods

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Chief Trunk is a NYC based luxury luggage company. What makes it special, beside its well proportioned design, Brooklyn based manufacturing and high quality materials, is its history.

Indeed, Chief Trunk is the revival of a much older manufacturer, the Oshkosh Trunk Company, launched in 1898. It quickly grew into a world renowned travel goods manufacturer, found at retailers like Neiman Marcus and with a flagship store in Paris. But as travelling habits changed, Oshkosh failed to adapt and had to close shop in the early 60's.

Another distinctive feature is its crimson and gold stripes which could be spotted all over the globe, from ocean-crossing steamers to the lobbies of the world's finest hotels. Those stripes echoes the Spanish flag for a reason,  they used to be on the diplomatic pouches in the use during the 19th century by Spanish embassies in the Americas. After Spain lost its remaining territories in the US, the canvas producing mill got stuck with excess stock of red and yellow striped canvas. Oshkosh bought the canvas and used it as a base to be painted, until a buyer spotted a few unpainted ones. This is how the Oshkosh Trunk Company, and later Chief Trunk gained their unmistakable look.

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Introducing: California Tailor, American made shirts

California Tailor

Launched at the beginning of this year, California Tailor was born from “the desire to create the perfect, American made, button down woven shirt” and it seems that London raised designer Gill Mclean succeeded. The shirts are a perfect mix of British refinement and Californian laidbackness, they manage to be feminine but not girly, as if you borrowed your boyfriend's shirt. Boyishly feminine would be a good description if not an oxymoron. As of today, they only offer one shirt (the appropriately named shirt No.1), in ten declinations.

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Introducing: Maurice Manufacture, French made shoes

Maurice Manufacture

Maurice Manufacture is a 65 year old shoe manufacturer based in Cholet, France. The factory manager describes their products as traditional, but with a "newstalgic" singularity. I love this word. Let's make it a goal to get it into the dictionary.

Now back to the shoes. Made from the finest materials by skilled craftsmen, you're getting a luxury product, at a fraction of the cost. Maurice also makes shoes for high end companies but also… for the police!

Prices range from about 130€ for sandals to 250€ for boots, which is not cheap, but similar to a lot of Far East made options.

Below, the tamest color combinations, but if you're feeling bold, they have dozens of different options. The shoes are made to order which is why there's a 8 to 10 days delivery time. But hey, you're not ordering Wendy's here.

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A little extra here, a pair inspired by the Pink Panther (yes, from the cartoon).

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