At work ! Workwear infiltrates urban fashion

What a paradox! At a time when telecommuting is becoming the norm, executives are dropping their suits to don a uniform that has nothing to do with their BCBG environment: mechanic’s jacket, mechanic’s overalls, carpenter’s overalls… Work clothes arise from the surplus of work history and becomes fashion pieces.

If we’ve seen it a lot, last summer for men among others at Zegna and Louis Vuitton, for women at Dior, and if this workwear has always inspired designers, from Chanel to Jean Paul Gaultier, make no mistake, its revival is much more social than fashionable. † After this long period of feeling vulnerable, we magnify what we felt we had lost, no longer had, such as work, explains Luca Marchetti, brand expert at The Prospectivists. Usually worn by a rather modest population, this garment embodies the values ​​of simplicity and sustainability that are stirring our collective unconscious today. This is not a temporary reaction, but a real change in our society.

Workwear marks the end of a certain industrialization of fashion, of fast fashion.

A whole know-how has been left behind in workwear that takes revenge. It appeared in the history of costume at the end of the 19th century. In the United States, it is impossible not to mention the jeans that, before they became a staple of the wardrobe, were the panties of prospectors and cattle herders. His stitching like his rivets wasn’t for chic, but for solidity.

Timberland started shoeing loggers in Oregon and Montana. Carhartt and Caterpillar dressed construction sites long before they were hijacked, as was the trapper shirt of the grunge movement. In England, Dr. Martens in the coal galleries at the feet of miners and became famous thanks to punks. The hipster movement, in turn, has picked them up to usher in a cool outdoor look.

Kidur and Le Mont St Michel, the rebirth of workwear

Today it gives way to a different authenticity characterized by sustainability. And durability is what defines a work jacket or trousers. The proof is with… Kidur. Kidur, founded in 1927 in Deux-Sèvres, produces clothing “for factory and field work, wear-resistant

Kidur has been producing authentic and sustainable workwear in France for almost a hundred years. kidur

In the 1960s, more than 600,000 pieces came out of the workshops every year. Acquired in 2018 by Alexandre Clary, the label that strengthens its collaborations, especially with SuperStitch, such as Le Mont St Michel and Le Minor, embodies the destandardization of this textile culture.

When we know the comfortable wool of Mont St Michel, we know less that this company, bought by Alexandre Milan in 1998, and enriched by the family knowledge of Tricotages de l’Aa, has specialized in work jackets since 1913. This jacket bears witness to an era and a vanished popular rural culture – which new generations only know through the cinema, through inspiring films such as Alexandre le bienheureux, by Yves Robert – but which has always had a clientele. amateurs thanks to his moleskin ‘ says Alexandre Milan.

Unlike, for example, very cheap American jeans, French moleskin has a so-called superior quality, often imitated, but never equaled. As a result, the pieces Le Mont St Michel makes in this fabric are sought after in Korea and Japan and listed in the vintage market.

Le Mont St Michel has specialized in “indestructible” workwear since 1913, the year it was founded.

Le Mont St Michel has specialized in “indestructible” workwear since 1913, the year it was founded. DR

This also ensured that the label did not file for bankruptcy until the acquisition. The sale of this one product still represents half of the turnover. In addition to its seasonal colors and weaves, it has made only one concession to its past, which is cutting. Today’s silhouettes are taller, less stocky than those of Jean Gabin in The day beginsMarcel Carné, or Julien Carette, the gamekeeper of Rules of the gameby Jean Renoir.

The Minor and his sailor’s jersey

The Minor specializes in a garment that is not land but sea, such as the sailor’s sweater or the kabig, which dressed both the Icelandic fishermen dear to Pierre Loti and the national navy. Le Minor is the oldest French knitwear in activity. If France shunned it for a long time, it is thanks to Japan, where it is also a cult and considered a major luxury brand, that it overcame the shock during difficult decades and realized up to 80% of its turnover.

Acquired in 2018, Le Minor has successfully recycled itself into marine wear, thanks in particular to knitting.

Acquired in 2018, Le Minor has successfully recycled itself into marine wear, thanks in particular to knitting. DR

When Jérôme Permingeat and Sylvain Flet bought it in 2018, they discovered an incredible industrial tool, machines that enable special knitting, such as re-crocheting. They give their sweaters their aesthetics, their sturdiness and very nice finishes.

With the brand of radar screens gone, it was necessary not only to train new production teams, but also to find a place in the dressing room without denying our roots. comments Sylvain Flet. Hence the unique and strong neoclassical collections, rooted in Brittany. Hence, this winter, the return of the little seaweed cap, which has proven itself to be a flagship of the season.

3 questions for Alexandre Rousseau, co-founder of Bleu de Chauffe.

At work Workwear penetrates urban fashion - the good life

What prompted you to found Bleu de Chauffe? With my partner, Thierry Batteux, we came from sportswear made in Asia. We wanted to go back to simpler, more local products. At the time we weren’t talking about French manufacturing, but as we were passionate about workwear, we bought all the old craft bags and decided to do what we liked in our own way. Gradually a community arose.

Where are you ten years later? We succeeded in our bet and entered another galaxy. If we had about ten bag references in the beginning, we will produce more than a hundred. They are distributed in France, but also in England, in the United States and China has become our second market, despite the Covid crisis. It is the engine of our growth with France. There are real connoisseurs of workwear.

You are anchored in the Aveyron. Why the end of the world? There’s a know-how there, an ecosystem that wavered at some point in history that we wanted to perpetuate. We found partners who have played the game. The circular economy has always been our way of working. 100% of our leather is vegetable tanned. Our materials are biologically and ecologically responsible. The water we use is decanted, treated and made as pure as before use. As for our production tool, its ecological footprint protects the surrounding nature.

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