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Sur Mesure (Tailor-Made)

A wave of young fashion graduates are running away from ready to wear by offering up tailor-made and affordable clothing services.

In times of recession, it is natural for the designers of tomorrow to question the industry they are about to enter. All over Paris, young fashion graduates are rebelling against mass-made prêt-à porter, by offering small quantities of tailor-made clothes, at affordable prices.

“Fashion has become so standardized – who fantasizes about something available any where, in unlimited quantities and worn by the entire population?” says Julie Auxoux, who recently graduated from Parisian design school Esmod.
Julie and her boyfriend Luc Anger, who met at university, have been making and selling clothes to their peers for several years; today they are working on opening a traditional tailor workshop, creating individual or micro-lines of made-to-measure garments.

As soon as Auxoux and Anger learned how to sew, they started altering their own clothes. “Nothing ever fits right, the bodies the clothes are modelled on are so uniform.” explains the slender, petite couple. Soon, their families and friends were asking for various classical pieces, shirts, suits etc. “At the time, we only asked them to buy the fabric” says Anger. “Life as a fashion student can be very poor, and this meant not having to rummage through the bins in the Sentier (Paris’s garment district)”, he laughs.

After an internship with Gareth Pugh in London last year, Anger found the confidence to start making and selling his own creations; he also began designing outfits for his band ‘Birdy Hunt’, in which he plays the guitar. Sooner than expected, the demand started to grow, and the couple began charging a small sum for the items. Today, the price range for a pair of trousers or a shirt is between 50 and 80 euros, and 150 for a jacket.

By setting up their own workshop, Auxoux and Anger are looking for an altogether different approach to the fashion world. “We are looking for something more artisanal and personal approach” says Auxous. The clothes will be advertised through a website, and word of mouth; people will be able to order individual pieces, or chose from the 30 piece collection that will come out twice a year. “High streets shops have such a quick turnover, clothes are replaced every two weeks,” says Anger, “we want clothes to be more precious, more permanent.”

“Today, it has become totally normal to buy clothes, wear them for a month and throw them out,” says Julie Della Faille. “ Sadly, the same logic of mass consumption applied to food is applied to fashion.” Della Faille, a recent graduate in fashion design at the Atelier Chardon-Savard, similarly started making clothes for her girlfriends and herself whilst studying. Similarly interested in a more traditional approach to fashion, she is pushing the concept of made-to-measure even further.

Della Faille is currently working on the development of a fashion consultancy service, ‘Alphabet Pony’, as a reference to a song by The Kills. Starting from September, she will meet with individual customers, go to their house, look through their clothes, and discuss their tastes and lifestyles. She will then produce a report of proposed designs for whichever item they want to order, and create the garment.

“I want to approach fashion the other way round: rather than setting up a certain style for people to adopt, I want to be at the disposition of people’s personal tastes and habits. Clothes should be treated as a work of art, not a commodity constantly renewed.” The price will remain reasonable, Della Faille. insists, charging around 70 euros for a shirt or a dress, and 140 to 180 euros for a jacket. “I’m not trying to make as big a profit as possible, I want this to be like an exchange .” Indeed, once the piece is done, part of the deal involves a mini-photoshoot where the customer poses in his/her new garment, in a café, gallery he/she likes. “This creates a different universe for all the customers, I want to photograph them in the location they had imagined wearing the clothes.”

And there is more - Della Faille is relying on using no advertising but word of mouth. “We’re in an era of networks, online and offline – what better time to approach fashion in the same way?”