We know it. You are tired of fast fashion, or guilty about buying it. It’s hard not to when environmental and social consciousness is at an all-time high, and owning fewer things you really love is now more fashionable than hoarding many things you’ve only used once. Buying into the buy-throw-buy cycle of fast fashion is now (rightfully) unfashionable.
But fashion can still be fun without being trendy, cheap and disposable. Here, we have curated six indie French brands for you to rediscover the fun of exploring a new brand, trying a new style, and buying clothes that will see you through seasons and years.
Started in 2017, MaisonCléo is an indie label run by Nathalie (who’s more commonly known as Cléo) and Marie, a mother-and-daughter team based in the north of France.
Using deadstock silks, cotton and wool, usually with unique textures and prints, the duo designs dresses, blouses and skirts, which are then handmade by mum Cléo, a qualified seamstress. Their signature: Loose, puff-sleeved blouses with ribbon-tied closures, some of which have already been picked up by influencers such as Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine and model Emily Ratajkowski, and made Insta-famous.
But to get a piece of MaisonCléo may not be an easy feat. The brand drops up to 25 new designs every Wednesday at 6.30pm (GMT+2) , but they usually sell out within an hour. They have no ready stock too. Every piece is handmade at home by Cléo only after orders are placed. Customers can pick from sizes XS to XL, or indicate their own measurements when placing an order. MaisonCléo will then tailor make the piece to the desired measurements at no extra charge.
Bonus: Because Cléo has “always matched her outfit with her scrunchie”, the brand gives away a matching scrunchie with each order.
The easiest way to dress like Parisian model/actress/entrepreneur Jeanne Damas is to shop where she shops — and Jeanne has done most of the legwork for us by launching her label, Rouje, where she “creates her perfect wardrobe”, as she shares in an interview with Into The Gloss.
Her insouciant French girl aesthetic comes through in all of Rouje’s offerings. Think breezy floral blouses, slinky silk slips, and vintage-inspired ruffle-hem cardigans — the kind of clothing you may have to scour vintage stores in Paris for, now accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.
Earlier this year, Jeanne also launched her own line of makeup on Rouje. Known for her signature red lips, you can now shop Rouje’s Le Rouje de Paris lip collection for a range of lipsticks and lip palettes in Jeanne-curated shades.
3. Amelie Pichard
Designer Amélie Pichard is French, but her early inspirations come — curiously — from America. She was a fan of the American mystery-horror drama Twin Peaks, also of late American model (and Andy Warhol’s muse) Edie Sedgwick, and of Canadian-American actress Pamela Anderson — even collaborating with the latter for a vegan shoe collection in 2016.
That is why for her eponymous shoe and bag label, Amélie eschews French simplicity for her own adventurous brand of wacky humour and kitsch. Her designs feature the bold use of colours, textures and patterns, complemented by sometimes kooky campaign visuals. And also because comfort is important to the designer, Amelie Pichard’s shoes usually have low or chunky, easy to maneuver heels.
4. Musier Paris
Launched just last year by influencer AnneLaure Mais (@adenorah), Musier Paris’ muses are the quintessential French Girls, such as Mais’ fellow French influencer Camille Jansen, and French-Algerian designer Anissa Kermiche, among many others.
Musier Paris drops a new collection every two months, with its apparel made mainly of natural fibres such as silk, viscose and cotton that are sourced from European mills. All designs are manufactured in Paris. Reflecting the enviable styles of its founder and muses, Musier Paris’ recent collections feature plenty of retro-but-on-trend French Girl wardrobe essentials such as summery gingham dresses, casual cardigans, and covetable ’90s-style kitten-heeled sandals and mules.
The Paris-based Imparfaite is a little different from the other labels on this list: Nothing new is for sale here — every piece is preloved, and sourced from thrift stores and consignment stores across France.
Best friends Ariane de Béchade and Camille Gabbi started Imparfaite in 2017 to both provide an alternative to fast fashion, and to make vintage accessible to everyone. The Imparfaite team carefully selects its stock to ensure that all are in great condition, and launches a new collection of curated vintage clothing and accessories every month. Prices are usually below 100 euros (with the exception of selected pieces from designer labels).
After Paris-based Canadian designer Tara Jarmon sold her eponymous label to AMS industries in September 2016, she launched a new online-only brand, Mirae, with her daughter Camille in April last year.
A brand committed to sustainability, Mirae selects suppliers with green manufacturing practices (such as using recycled water and renewable energy), produces designs in small quantities of 30 to 100 pieces, and uses ethically manufactured natural fabrics or deadstock fabrics.
The result: Accessible Parisian chic, with a minimal environmental cost.