"Fast fashion devours resources indiscriminately," says Marithé+François founder

Marithé Bachellerie, founder with François Girbaud of the Marithé+François Girbaud label, and jury president at the Young Designers' Festival in Dinan, France, held from 7th to 9th April, has talked to FashionNetwork about the challenges fashion academy students face in such a competition, which recognised four emerging designers, and on the students' role in the industry of the future. She also offered her own take on the fashion system today.



Marithé Bachellerie and François Girbaud


FashionNetwork: What is your opinion of the competitions for young designers?

Marithé Bachellerie: They are a good thing. These events allow [young designers] to meet people and talk about their craft. I find they are very open and very much on the ball. As experienced professionals, our role is to convey our vision to them, making them understand that the job of fashion is first of all to dress people. In schools, they learn a lot about working on concepts and creativity. But students must also realise that they themselves, and their peers, are their own first customers. This is how a label is born, and how it can snowball into something big.

What I wish to say to them now is that we have reached a turning point, and we are heading towards a new way to create clothing, using new technologies and digital tools. Fast fashion devours resources indiscriminately, from water to raw materials. We must work on sustainability, because we are in the process of burning up everything. We must go back to essentials and produce eco-responsible apparel, think hard and stop focusing on 'cheap' at any cost. Young designers must not enter this vicious circle, they can't fight against the big mass-market players. They must engender new tastes and open new paths.
 
FNW: What do you find striking in meeting with the new generation?

MB: That it isn't easy, they have it all to do. Once again, what’s striking is that they are steeped in the conceptual. They are full of ideas, but I'm concerned they think they've already made it when they talk about 'my collection, my concept.' It isn't easy to set up one's own label, funding is necessary. And if they must work for other labels, they need to be able to adapt. Some of them are already emerging, but the road is long and tough, they must help each other out. I think something will happen, since not everyone can be dressed in the same way, it isn't a solution. They must have belief, and we mustn't rob them of their dreams, but to make it solo is hard.

FNW: Why did you accept the role of jury president?

MB: François Girbaud and myself have done it often, at the ESMOD academy for example. It's natural for us, and I believe it is also something of a duty to let [students] benefit from our experience. We own a laser machine we have put at the ESMOD Bordeaux students' disposal. I asked them to work on an engraving design, and the students came up with three or four-colour designs, not knowing that they cannot be used with this method.

What I loved about meeting young people is that they are keen to try their hand at everything themselves. We need to show them that techniques other than embroidery or printing do exist! We should open up their minds to other, modern creative tools they can incorporate in their work. We must find new ways of approaching ready-to-wear fashion. Nowadays, there are far fewer people working with sewing machines and many more busy programming computers. We must train students for these new métiers.

FNW: Your label Marithé+François Girbaud has picked up again and is sold via event sales. What are your goals?

MB: We had serious problems with a businessperson who wanted to take over our label. We resisted in order to keep our amazing clientèle and so as not to disappoint them. So the whole team was mobilised and put money into the business. Since then we’ve really made the rounds. Over the past year, we’ve been from town to town in France, Belgium, Italy, to make sales over a period of three or four days. I make almost a month’s revenue with one sale. The goal now is to recoup the clients in Japan and the US, where we used to have a strong presence. Within the next two months, we plan to open our e-shop to focus more on exports.
 
The full interview is available on FashionNetwork Premium.

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