Marie Remy founding father of The French Workwear Firm. Pictures: Neil Mackenzie Matthews
My obsession with second-hand workwear led me to Marie Remy, 52, the founding father of The French Workwear Firm. 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 disenchanted. Beaucoup de bleu. All over the 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:
I’ve all the time liked 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 carrying classic and second-hand for me is an extension of these commitments. It’s the greenest factor you are able to do, apart from not shopping for something. I might 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 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 document gathering. We have now spent lots of time at French flea markets gathering 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 type 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 effectively, individuals might strive all the pieces 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, 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 lots of progress and the federal government would give staff protecting garments, to satisfy necessities. And so they gave them too many! Greater than they may ever put on. Nevertheless it’s getting tougher and tougher to supply the items. The pool is shrinking.
Classic French Workwear
And inform me about your designer collaborations
Typically tears and stains look cool, however typically 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 typically it’s simply doesn’t look good. Fairly a couple of of my prospects are artists. We simply began speaking. Then, Stewart Easton, adopted by Ian Viggars, customised a couple of jackets for me. And now individuals method 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 method of preserving 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 stunned, however I do. In lots of locations I grow old people who find themselves very trendy, they’re very fashion-aware they usually know what they’re searching for right away. After which individuals who convey their mother and father or purchase as a gift for his or her dad, they could need slightly assist. I like discovering the best jacket for individuals 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 beautiful.
Why do you suppose why do you suppose 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 may be very uncommon however it’s superb. 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.
Folks prefer to help sluggish style, and the connection to guide work that we now 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, you already know, 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 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 individuals 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 may 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 outdated light jackets with restore work…
When it comes to mending and repairing, a few of the jackets have gotten authentic mending, which is beautiful. And a few of them I organize to be repaired, so all of the buttons have gone as an example, they usually 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 method, in my profession, I’ve all the time supported different individuals’s visions; after I labored with creative administrators, theatre administrators, or inside a advertising and marketing firm. So that is the primary time, for me professionally, the place I’ve completed my very own factor.
Get your self all the way 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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