Interviews

An Interview with Déborah Neuberg of De Bonne Facture

I’ve been a fan of Déborah Neuberg’s De Bonne Facture since the first time I saw it at Pitti Uomo. I’ve been lucky enough to see her collections (or éditions) numerous times since, and she’s not only a talented designer but a thoughtful, intelligent person.

I reached out to ask if she’d be willing to talk about “The brand, fashion, and style in general,” which I admit is an impressively vague request. What followed was a discussion not just of De Bonne Facture, but of style, gender, and the importance of discovering your own style.


Jasper Lipton: Let’s start from the ground up, and talk about the name of your brand. Not just what it means literally, but what it means to you, and what it means to your ethos and who you are as a company.

Déborah Neuberg: I had a really hard time finding a name. I didn’t want it to be a brand, at the beginning – I still don’t really want it to be a brand, in the sense of a traditional brand. As in, the word brand comes from the brand you’d put on cattle. It’s the mark you put on something to identify it, which is quite the contrary of what I’m trying to do with De Bonne Facture – which is to not have any visible signs of what it is, such as a logo. That is also the way a lot of consumer goods are marketed to the public: ‘We sell milk, but we want our milk to be identified, so we’ll put whatever – Jasper milk – on it.”interview Deborah Neuberg De Bonne Facture Styleforum

JL: I’m sure there’s a market for that.

DN: It’s huge, dude. You should tap into that. No, I’m just saying that the idea of a brand that visibly identifies a product – if that’s all that a brand is, I’m not a brand. I wanted to make well-made and brandless – as in this sense of a brand – products, and I wanted to communicate that it’s well made.

I had a friend who had a really old-fashioned way of speaking French, and he would say expressions like “Ah, this is de bonne facture,” but say it tongue in cheek, because de bonne facture means ‘Of good make.’ I was sitting with my cousin and my ex-boyfriend, and talking to a writer friend, and I kept saying “I just want it to be de bonne facture,” thinking of this old friend who always said that, and the writer said, “Well, why don’t you call it that?”

It’s not a very pretty name, I mean, I didn’t think it was pretty at all, or evocative – it was just kind of funny. You know, that’s what it is – you get what you get. It’s de bonne facture. It has to be good because it’s well made.

JL: Does that tie in to the reason you choose to disclose all your manufacturers? Most brands want to do the opposite.

DN: Yeah. If they’re working with subcontractors – which is hugely the case in the textile industry – they totally keep that a secret, and they will never say that so-and-so made their scarves. When I was working with Hermès, we would work with beautiful ateliers and subcontractors and we would just say “Made in Italy,” “Made in Nepal,” “Made in India.”

I always thought it was kind of a shame because we were working with those manufacturers because they specifically had the know-how and craftsmanship that came from their history and location. They all have really interesting backgrounds, and I was excited as a product manager to be working with those people. I thought it was a loss of information that it wasn’t mentioned, and I didn’t see why it was better not to disclose them. I don’t get it.

Maybe it’s the story I’m telling myself, but the fact that you’re not acknowledging the people you’re working with totally enables you to shed responsibility if you’re making another manufacturing choice. It’s just product. It’s not about where it’s made, it’s not about your subcontractors, it’s not about your supply chain, your economic entity is about the brand you’re going to put on your garment.

interview deborah neuberg de bonne facture styleforum

 

DN (cont): I feel it’s pretty dangerous, and there’s been a lot of stuff about what happens in the textile industry with all this opacity. You’ll make another [manufacturing] choice and it’ll be “Oh, it’s cheaper to go there and I don’t have to tell my consumer, I can just write on a tiny label that it’s made in somewhere else.”

I don’t believe in that way of creating brands and immaterial value, while dishonoring the material steps that go into the product. It’s not anchored in reality, or in the industry. I really wanted to honor the industry and the craftsmanship – wherever it is.

Making it part of our label is a way to be responsible, or a guideline you can’t really go away from. Because once you decide to do it, you’re like OK, this what I’m doing, I need to be proud of what I’m doing.

JL: Was the decision to be so heavily invested in the manufacturing and textile industries made at the same time as you conceived of your label, or did that come later?

DN: No, it was part of what was driving me to create the label. Initially, I didn’t even want to create a collection. I had this fantasy that by going to all of these local manufacturers with specific talents I would be able to put together a very essential men’s wardrobe – a white poplin shirt, or flannel trousers, or knitted ties, or a Breton sweater – I was just imagining that by going to these ateliers they would all have their own factory brand, and that it would be very well tailored to whatever I thought was cool.

It wasn’t the case at all. They just didn’t have that. At the beginning I saw it more like a federation of makers that I would put together. It was much more coming from the craft, and the regions, and the makers. My naive idea was that I would find what I was looking for already there.

interview deborah neuberg de bonne facture styleforum

I had a huge impostor syndrome about being a designer, because that’s not what I studied, and the system in France is very rigid. When I went to people with my project they’d say “You went to business school, you’re not a designer.” And I was like…yeah, yeah, I’m not a designer. So they’d say “You need to find a designer.” I was uncomfortable with it, but I was like yeah, you’re right, I don’t know what I want.

That syndrome is widespread in women – to lose confidence very easily when you’re trying to do your own venture and everyone seems like they know better than you. So I was really confused – I knew what I wanted, but it was like ‘either you’re going to be a platform for factory products, or some kind of brand but then you won’t be a designer.’ That was the feedback I got when I was looking for advice.

In the end I was like, fuck everyone, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care about you, I know what I want, I want to do this project in the way I wanted. But it took me a long time to own my idea, because everyone was telling me, no one does that. They didn’t get it.

JL: Let’s talk about that moment of knowing what, exactly, you wanted. The poplin shirt, or the flannel trouser. How did you go from the idea of a collection of makers to the idea of a collection?

DN: It was just being so frustrated. What actually made me own it was having that idea but not really being able to take the space to put it out there, because I was too dependent on other people’s opinions, or I was afraid to disappoint or be judged by people in the fashion industry because I was working at Hermès before – which is like, the epitome of luxury and taste and creation – and I thought, “Oh my god, what if the art director at Hermès saw I was starting something and thought it was so horrible?” I would make psychological barriers for myself.

She actually started following my brand [on Instagram] – I say brand because it’s like, whatever – about two years ago. I don’t even know if she knows it’s me, but it wasn’t a big deal. At the time, that was a huge deal! Am I going to be approved of? Fear of being approved of was a big barrier.

I think that what made me actually take that step was that first of all, I spent money – because I trusted people who told me I needed a designer – working with a designer. It was a catastrophe. I explained the concept – very simple, understated garments; French modern classics made by all of these factories that we’re going to be co-branding with.

The guy told me he needed magazines to get inspired, so we went to this fashion magazine shop and I bought 100 Euros worth of magazines for him. And I was really trusting this whole thing, because so many people told me I couldn’t be a designer! So I thought he would have the answer to whatever I was looking for.

Then he started cutting out these various, random inspirations that had nothing to do with my original concept – and just came up with this collection. He said “OK, it’s going to be inspired by this really beautiful series I saw about cosmonaut suits, and I think that’s really inspiring and interesting so we could take these details from that.” And I was like, ok, is this a joke?

JL: You mean you don’t reach for your cosmonaut suit every morning?

DN: Yeah, it’s a modern classic! It was so absurd, but he was so serious about it. This guy was creating a collection from thin air, it had nothing to do with whatever. He thought being a designer was just doing whatever is commonly thought of as being creative. As in out there, eccentric, which was for me totally disconnected – it was just producing, kind of like a hamster rolling in one of those hamster things. Yeah! Let’s make product! Let’s have ideas! Oh, a cosmonaut! Let’s make something like that!

I was so scared and anxious, because I really thought he was going to help me – because I had been told that he was so talented. And so at one point I was actually paying this guy – not a lot, but I was paying him…I realized I’d gone through one year of trying to set up my idea, and paying people, and it just became unbearable to be wasting time and money on something that was clearly not what I wanted.

At that time, I was also paying to go to the ‘incubator’ of my business school. It was not in tune at all with my ideas. It was super start-up culture – raise a lot of money, very technology oriented, very innovation oriented, maybe 1 in 15 of those companies will make it and the others will die and that’s the game. It was like Hunger Games.

I didn’t think that’s what creating a company was about. I was super old school about it, and wanted to be working with all these factories that are still linked to regional culture, and work with them to make garments. The response was, “What is the innovation in your business?” And I said, “Uh, co-branding and re-enchanting that culture of craftsmanship that is being lost, making a collection that honors that craftsmanship, that is durable and lasts a long time and is sustainable – and that’s what’s innovative, because the industry is very driven by fashion.”

And they were like “No, there’s nothing. That’s not an innovation. There’s nothing interesting about your project.”

In French, there’s a saying: conseilleur n’est pas payeur – the person who gives you advice is not the person who pays. It’s easy to give advice. So, shut up, I heard your advice, very interesting, thank you, bye.

I was too frustrated with having wasted all that. And then I decided to go to all the factories, do all the documentaries myself with a photographer, and decided to work with a pattern maker. I had a little experience with the technical files. I had shopped for these vintage pieces, gone to Première Vision [the French fabric fair], and looking in the hundreds of booths for these fabrics eventually I found my way. I said okay, I’m going to make one pair of flannel trousers, and this one poplin shirt I’m imagining, and I’m going to make the Breton sweaters with this really cool factory that I found. I told myself I was just going to make a few garments and see where it took me.

interview Deborah Neuberg De Bonne Facture Styleforum

JL: The last time I saw you, you said that someone had asked you when you were going to make a women’s line. And you said “I am making a women’s line.” So, why menswear? Is it menswear?

DN: The first answer is that I’ve always liked craftsmanship. I’ve always liked concrete product. In 2010 or 2011, all of the interesting brands or companies that were highlighting tailoring and craftsmanship were menswear companies. All of the women’s companies were more style-oriented, or fashion-oriented in my perception at the time.

That’s a reason, but it’s also because I always thought it was really cool to dress in menswear. Classic menswear always really appealed to me. I always liked to steal my brother’s clothes, or my father’s clothes. When I look deeper into it, the men’s wardrobe – the way traditional genders are constructed – what is associated with the men’s wardrobe is more powerful in mainstream culture than what is associated with the women’s wardrobe. At least, that’s the way I perceived it.

I didn’t want to be associated with doing women’s clothes in the way the fashion industry does them – “Oh, that dress is so wonderful! Why don’t we just talk about dresses, and being pretty for parties!” – I didn’t want to be associated with that part of what being a woman can be. It’s not my style.

It was helpful for me to appropriate the codes of masculine garments to express myself, in the way that was the most empowering. It might not be empowering, in the end. I don’t know if it is. I felt it was something that gave me more confidence. It seemed like there was more freedom and power associated with being a guy, and I think it would be hard to argue against that, although it could be said that being imprisoned in those binary genders is keeping men from expressing a part of their personalities.

JL: Would you ever design a dress? Or is that antithetical to your entire conception of clothing?

DN: Hmm. Today, I have no desire to design a dress. None. That might evolve. I don’t know. I follow a lot of non-binary, trans, and gender-fluid people. Sometimes they’re biologically male and dress super feminine – traditionally feminine – or be one day like this and the next like that, and I think it’s interesting how we’re trapped in these worlds.

We think we choose our style, but it’s also very much determined for us by what we think it should be. Style says a lot about who we are – what age we are, what social class we’re from – sometimes it’s not even conscious. Sometimes we think we’re doing a great job, and something escapes that’s a tell of who we are.  I’m interested in the way that people – bravely – break that trap, or that binary, of ‘men should dress this way, and women are like this, and so they should dress this way.’

De Bonne Facture is a lot about me being a woman, and designing this men’s wardrobe and wearing it myself and wanting women to appropriate it and play with it, precisely because it’s associated with masculinity. It can be kind of like a charm, a talisman – I can be who I want.

JL: It seems very quiet, though. What do you make of a brand like Rick Owens or Rad Hourani?

DN: I think it’s great. Obviously, what I’m making is way more conservative, but it’s also because I was socialized as a woman that I find this magical, powerful quality and designing men’s clothes, you know? As a man like Rick Owens or Marc Jacobs, designing dresses or skirts and wearing it themselves or putting them on their male models, I think there’s something that must feel so transgressive and so empowering and make them feel like they’re breaking barriers. Femininity is so devalued.

JL: It’s much more of a taboo for a man to go outside in a dress than for a woman to go outside in a suit.

DN: Exactly. The whole of the structure relies on the inferiorization of women, and the fact that if you take on those codes that are attributed to women – style of dress, speak, voice – you’re going to be effeminate, and that’s the worst that can happen to traditional masculinity. Rick Owens, Marc Jacobs, all of these trans activists that I’m following, they’re very brave and courageous – they’re reclaiming their own power in feeling themselves in this kind of dress.

Very personally, I find those clothes disempowering. I want to maybe have the choice to wear a dress and heels – very rarely, like never – but I want to not be harassed. One time recently I was wearing something moderately feminine and I followed in the streets for 15 minutes by this guy, and he asked for my number and told me he’d been following me.

100% of women have been harassed in a public space in their lives, and when I’m dressed in De Bonne Facture I feel more protected. Which is fake! I just read about an exhibition on “What Were You Wearing When You Were Raped?” and it was everything from dresses to baseball tees to trousers – it can be anything. It has nothing to do with clothing – but symbolically, in my head it does.

JL: “She was dressed like she was asking for it.”

DN: Yeah, exactly.

JL: In addition to the ‘fakeness’ of that feeling, is there a ‘hiding-ness’ to it?

DN: Oh, yeah. Women’s bodies are so sexualized. It’s so problematic – what you are covering and what you’re not. Hiding has to do with what we were brought up to find “sexy.” There’s this cultural battle where people are always trying to see your body.

JL: There are so many men who think this same way, just on a different tack. You know, who think that men should look as though they don’t care. You get up in the morning and you look in your closet and you think “OK, I could wear that, but I don’t really want anyone to notice it or talk to me about it. I just want to look like nothing.”

DN: Neutral.

JL: Completely neutral. For example, last week I met a stranger who told me that he – he was telling me about how expensive his jeans were – was so into clothing that he was ‘verging on f****ry.’ There’s always been this idea of clothing as armor, in these different ways.

DN: Wow. Yes, but I also think there are women’s lines – like Olivier Rousteing at Balmain – his woman is very much a conqueror, an Amazon, wearing very sexy dresses with an armor-like quality to them. I think this idea of what can be armor is very personal. I’m expressing mine in my way, that is very connected to my story. It’s what I’m comfortable in and what I aspire to make.

But if I were to wear an Olivier Rousteing dress in the street…I don’t want that experience. I admire women who do it, I admire activists who fight against all of those stereotypes. What this guy told you is that an interest in fashion makes you feminine, which makes you inferior.

[Laughs]

He’s a victim of the system too. High heels were invented for men, in the court of France – men were like peacocks.

 

JL: So that was never a question for you – menswear vs. womenswear.

DN: No, it was very natural. If I was every dressing up for a carnival or a party, I loved to dress up as a man.

JL: What does that mean? At this point, as a grown woman with successful business, do you get up in the morning and say “Today, I’m dressing like a man?”

DN: No, I meant as a teenager for Halloween and things. Instead of being a nurse, or a prostitute, or these social archetypes. I would dress as a man and paint on a mustache and wear flannel trousers. Right now, I’m dressed in De Bonne Facture trousers and a Paris tourist t-shirt. I bought it from a guy on the street and I really enjoy it.

JL: What was it about these essential pieces that you decided to make for De Bonne Facture that made them ‘French’ to you?

DN: That’s a really difficult question, because I think that what is commonly associated with France is a very narrow-minded vision.

There’s something about being born and brought up in Paris that makes you value clothes that are understated, simple, effortless, but still studied. When I was in Shanghai, people didn’t dress that way. It was much less understated. I think [French] brings to mind something quiet, refined, and subtle, and it’s what I associate with Frenchness.

But it can be so many things – when I was Beijing, I found the same understated quality in some of the people I encountered. Old people walking in the park with very simple camel or black coats that I would never see in Shanghai. And I would think ‘Whoa, these people remind me of Parisians!’ so it’s not only French, but there’s an element of Parisian style in that aesthetic that’s French.

Kind of like Boston, also. When I was living in new York I went to Boston and everyone was in navy and white and it was so quiet and serene.

JL: Boston is still kind of a bastion of East Coast prep style, and it’s interesting to hear your admiration for it as someone whose life outlook is so far from conservative.

DN: I see in certain types of aesthetic conservatism a minimalism, or quiet – stillness, maybe – which can be bad, too, but I find beauty in it. I also love the idea of dressing conservatively and being very anti-conformist, in personality or culturally. I’m interested in that imbalance between exterior minimalism and interior fantasy. I like serenity. Using the navies and whites and camels is so appeasing aesthetically.

In Boston, everything was white – it was covered in snow – and all these silhouettes in camel and navy were out walking. I had this very calm experience of it.

JL: I think that classic is very different from quiet – does that idea of an interior fantasy help bring to life an idea that might otherwise be dull?

 

DN: Maybe. I like the idea of having this very still picture of the white, WASP-y persona – or the French equivalent, such as my style is born out of – but have it appropriated by me, and Asian people, and African people, and the diversity of the American people. It’s like, anyone can walk in your shoes, dude. I can wear your costume. It’s kind of like vogueing. You have a costume of power, and I’m going to wear it.

There’s something subversive about putting out that aesthetic, but having it worn by a diversity of models and people. That’s where I want to go moving forward. It’s kind of why I finally asked my [Japanese] friend Jumpei to model the brand, instead of a white guy who would seem ‘French.’

JL: Is there a healthy way to develop a style, then? I think you could point to 23 out of 24 little boys in America, and they probably all learned to dress from their fathers. How do you balance the desire to imitate with the desire to branch out without knowing what you’re doing?

DN: I started this project called Patina – it’s on the website, but not linked to the products -that’s about pieces and garments that you own and have acquired patina with use; have acquired your character, and telling stories about how clothes are linked to identity or memory. They can be frivolous, but they can also be part of who you are. You’re wearing your dad’s shirt, and you’re connecting to your memory and your history.

JL: You’re not scared of talking about other brands.

DN: It’s very stifling to think that your brand is some kind of tyrannical system.There are certain guidelines in my brand that I will respect, to warranty some kind of cohesiveness, but I’m not afraid to talk about other companies. Being a brand doesn’t have to be about “Oh, you’re not wearing the latest Dries trousers! This is last season!” It’s so fucking stupid, and so disconnected from reality. And very anxiety-inducing. People can get very petty, and in the end it’s really very sad, because it becomes about making people buy stuff out of fear. It’s not building confidence in people. I don’t like making decisions out of fear.

I think this happens in style as well – you’re afraid of being judged, or you’re afraid of what will happen to you. But fashion – not wearing the latest – is not a matter of life and death. I don’t really like that aspect of fashion. I’d rather see experimenting with costumes, and who you can be, and various aspects of identity and gender.

As a designer, I will never say “Yes, this is style. This is how people should dress. Follow me, I’m a guru.” I hate that. People should feel comfortable. Today I was dressed 100% in De Bonne Facture, but under my sweater I had on this souvenir t-shirt, and it made me feel more comfortable and more myself.

Building a healthy style has to do with educating yourself with what style can be for you; understanding the politics of style can be interesting too. Style is very political – it connects to class, gender, race, culture, age – if you’re a poor, black, inner-city kid, vogueing as a rich white prep student, it says something. You can experiment with so many parts of you through dressing up, but it does take experimentation. Being fearless, and confident, and not caring about judgement. I would say that’s what a healthy sense of style is.

JL: You have real economic concerns weighing on you a lot of the time. How do you balance this love of weird things, or your love of vintage things, with the need to keep creating new product?

DN: It’s complicated. When I was starting this project I was measuring my desire to get on with it with my desire to ponder the necessity of another label. Do we need new products? I try to be conscious about the ecological impact of the clothing industry. The fashion industry is so polluting, in all ways – from cultivation of cotton that causes desertification, to pesticides used on the crops, to all of the chemicals used in fabric creation or dyeing, the manufacturing, the usage, the water usage, the fact that you’re renewing your wardrobe all the time…I believe that there is a way that we can connect with clothing that is cultural, that is not some unhealthy, neurotic way of over-consuming stuff. I do believe there is a cultural need for a clothing scene. It’s kind of like an arts scene, or a food scene. It’s a cultural object. That is ‘fashion,’ in the good sense. Clothes are cultural artifacts.

My love for old things makes me conscious of the need to make things that are nice when they are old. I’m studying ways to make our clothes more ecologically-friendly, but I’m trying to balance that with durability and other concerns about development. In the meantime, we have to make collections to make a living, so that our suppliers can also make a living. It’s a long process – there’s a rhythm you have to respect.

I think my love of old things also has to do with how appalled I am with how quickly we consume things. So I’m trying to find a way to make things that is respectful to all the people who make our clothes, and to the person who is buying and wearing them, and the earth, and honoring the craft that needs to be kept alive to manufacture things.

JL: You mentioned that you find the idea of sharing your ateliers romantic. Over the last few years, there has been a focus in menswear on the nitty-gritty, on the details. How do you keep romance alive in what you do?

DN: What comes to mind is streetstyle. I find a lot of romance in watching people in life. Sometimes when I’m walking I see someone with an interesting detail, or observe the way they’re carrying themselves. Whatever is expressed I find romantic or interesting – watching people making style real. I mean, I do also find runways and presentations romantic, but I find people romantic in their diversity. Recently we were choosing fabrics, and one reminded me of an old professor – and I know you have met someone in your life who exuded that geography professor aesthetic or character. Anything can be an inspiration, and that’s where I see the romance.

JL: Once, I texted you a photo of LeBron James wearing one of your sweaters, and you got a kick out of that. What are your thoughts on celebrity style?

DN: I was so mad. I made this really nasty Instagram post and everyone told me to delete it. I got tagged in this random celebrity Instagram post, and realized LeBron James was wearing our turtleneck. I was in the office, and I said “LeBron James is super famous, right?” And it gave me an up, like an endorphin, so I posted about it on Facebook, and it was probably my most-liked post ever.

And then I started getting super bitter about it. “Oh, you need an NBA player to think my stuff is nice?” Everyone on the internet was commenting about how beautiful and wonderful my work was, and I thought, is this what you need to see that I’m doing great work? So I made this post on my personal account about celebrity culture, and how dispiriting it felt that people only thought that what I was doing was good when this NBA star wore it. I was so pissed. And then my friends talked me down and told me to delete it, which I did.

There are people interested in our fabric, in our manufacturing, in what we make – and there are others who are like “Oh yeah, you got LeBron!” Yeah, cool, you like my brand. Thanks. I was happy, and then I hated it when I realized it was the only reason people were interested.

Photos: Sports Illustrated


JL: If you could strip your collection down to its four most essential pieces, which would they be?

D: Definitely the jockey jacket – the bomber – and I like the flannel carrot trousers. I wouldn’t wear those together, though. I would wear the trousers with my souvenir t-shirt, I would wear the bomber with some really run-down jeans and trainers. The oxford shirt – the button down, with the American placket, now it’s in Japanese brush oxford, which is an oxford fabric but flannel-ized, so it’s kind of confusing because it looks like a normal shirt but when you get closer it has this vintage-y, wabi-sabi aspect. And I’m thinking of the bathrobe, that I really like – that you inspired….

[Laughs]

I’m kidding –

JL: I hope you know that’s on record now, and I’m claiming credit for it.

DN: Probably the piqué sweater, the crewneck with the enlarged polo knit.

JL: I think I’ve only ever seen you wearing one thing, which is a striped essential shirt and navy trousers.

DN: Yep.

JL: Is there such thing as authenticity in fashion? Is there anything wrong with never settling?

DN: No! Maybe there are four essential pieces of De Bonne Facture, but I would never wear them together. I think authenticity is being in tune with yourself, with whatever choices you’re making. Being authentic is being honest and sincere, finding your voice through experimentation. It’s not an equation. There’s no solution to style. That’s a good way to sell magazines, to have people be fearful instead of carrying on with their lives.

I think a lot of the media surrounding style perpetuates the fear of not being up-to-date, that’s feeding into the nasty part of the fashion system. Do you remember when we were making fun of the minimalism trend ?

JL: In Paris last year, yeah

DN: Yeah. “Be a minimalist, buy my magazine, I’m gonna teach you how to be minimalist, and the way to be minimalist is to throw out everything you own and buy a minimalist wardrobe.” It’s cool to be evolving. There’s this culture of the rules of style in menswear –

JL: You don’t say.

DN: Yeah, and it kind of drives me crazy.

JL: One criticism I’ve read – on websites that will not be named – is that De Bonne Facture looks like just another minimal French brand.

DN: Yeah, like APC or whatever.

JL: How do you prevent that? How do you –

DN: I really don’t care. I don’t give a fuuuuck. I care about what my customers think about it – if their coat is not well cut, if the fabric isn’t warm enough, then I care. But I’m trying to speak with my voice. I’m not trying to be out there so that I’m making the point that I’m different, like everything I make is orange because I’m so original and it’s unlike any other French brand you’ve ever seen.

Buyers at big department stores have told us “Oh, we’ve already got the minimal French whatever, we don’t want you.” I think “Well, you have a brand that’s made in Portugal, and uses plastic buttons, and the fabric they use costs 2EUR a meter, and oh, this other brand’s shirts are made in Bangladesh for 8$ and they’re selling them for 160EUR.”

They’re selling to customers that don’t care about those details, and don’t care about our ethos that I admit is kind of invisible. It’s subtle. It’s all the choices we’ve made. It has soul. We hope to sell our clothes to people who care about that.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Lookbook photos via De Bonne Facture.

Photos of Déborah by Eric Hanson for Styleforum.

 

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Jasper Lipton

Jasper Lipton

EIC at Styleforum
Jasper likes indigo, flight jackets, and boots - but he likes his dogs even more. He dreams of buried cities and the spaces between the stars.

Categories: Interviews, Style

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