Forging ahead and building his fresh, independent fashion label, Cool TM, Thomas Monet offers an example of what’s emerging, even in an environment of global crisis.
Monet will present a collection at Paris Men’s Fashion Week for the first time, bringing an example of how new propositions can be built from lessons of the past — while also being molded by the constraints of the present crisis.
The designer has 15 years of fashion experience under his belt at brands as diverse as Yiqing Yin, Balmain, Daniel Cremieux and Faith Connexion.
He worked with Christophe Decarnin at Balmain and Olivier Rousteing was a schoolmate at the ESMOD fashion school in Paris.
Not long ago, he took a pause from the fast pace of fashion design and embarked on a period of travel and reflection.
“The rhythm had been extremely dense and I kept asking myself do I stop, do I continue?” he said in a phone interview, describing his personal struggle to figure out whether or not to pursue fashion.
“But it’s a part of me — I can’t get away from it — it’s what I want to do, what I love,” he concluded.
Following some freelance work, including a show for Redemption in Italy, he decided to pursue his own ideas and set about carefully laying the groundwork.
He sought a more conscientious approach to designing, noting there’s not much room for creation in collections when you have to launch a new one every month and a half.
“I thought it’s time to start building a project that fits me. I really wanted everything to be thought out, from A to Z, whether it’s the strategy, or being conscious of what’s happening around us, how to make change, how to be more efficient in the value chains, or globally, when it comes to durability, sourcing, how to collaborate with people internally and externally. It was really a global approach — the foundations of the brand we were launching had be thought out and financially stable,” he said.
“So that was the starting point. It took a year, because it’s not just strategy and reflection, there are also numbers and a business plan,” he continued.
“The style is another thing. The idea was not to talk about the style, after 15 years, you get to know yourself,” he said.
Moret roped in two close friends to join him, bringing new expertise — one manages the commercial and financial side while the other handles communications and marketing.
Adding to their personal funds, the trio gathered financing from friends and family and set up the company last fall. The first textile purchase was made in November, and in January the label presented its first collection — mixing genders and celebrating diversity.
“From the beginning we planned to present men’s and women’s and unisex together, and celebrate these differences that have no frontier for us — the crisis reinforced our convictions that we needed to continue in this direction,” he said.
The first collection drew enthusiasm, especially from Asia, and was snatched up by over a dozen retailers. Next came a slot on the Paris men’s calendar.
“That was a bright patch during the lockdown period,” he said, recalling that they worked hard to minimize delivery delays, and that fortunately over half of the collection was produced in Paris.
Drawing on inspiration from Dog Town skaters and Kurt Cobain, the label’s spring collection will be shown with a 360-degree virtual reality film, the lineup of high-end pieces mixing grunge and bourgeois references in an eclectic and contemporary manner, embracing kitsch.
“Nobody’s working harder than Cool TM for bad taste,” Morel said.
“We have to stay humble, above all — we’re making clothes. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be demanding,” he added. — Mimosa Spencer
Colm Dillane is a real-life superhero who doesn’t take no for an answer. The creative force behind KidSuper, the fun-loving Brooklyn streetwear label and artistic platform, Dillane gets his first official appearance in the City of Light at Paris Men’s Fashion Week Online on Sunday after two seasons showing off schedule — and printing his rejection letter from the Fédération on his runway designs.
This season’s lineup will include a reprise of that letter with the word “Approved” splashed over it. “Life is about having goals and trying to accomplish them,” Dillane said over the phone. “I set this completely unrealistic goal. I like being an outsider because there’s nothing to lose. I tried my hardest and I shot my shot.”
Ten years ago he was selling his T-shirts in his high school cafeteria before heading to college to study math. His irreverent world peopled with cartoon heroes and colorful artwork has grown exponentially since. J Balvin is a fan, and he has created ski goggles with A$AP TyY, tour merchandise for Ed Sheeran and collaborated with Puma and Nike.
In August, his biggest capsule to date will launch: a second collection with Puma in two drops, with five pairs of sneakers and 20 garments in each, both to be produced in 60,000 units. “That’s like times 70 anything I’ve done before,” Dillane said. The collaboration checks another of his boxes. “I got to do my own soccer cleat,” said the avid fan of the sport, who played professionally for a time and regularly features sporting references in his creations.
For Paris, Dillane has produced a stop-motion film featuring decapitated Barbie dolls, with 3-D-printed heads, wearing miniature clothes. “We were really nervous about doing something small, in case it doesn’t fit with the criteria, but then Dior released a small-scale dress. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
The miniature scale meant that the hand embroideries, patchworks and tie-dye motifs took on new proportions in the designs, he said. On the runway, further dreams come true: Salvador Dalí, Quentin Tarantino and Pelé, just a few of Dillane’s personal heroes, are among the models. “We felt like little kids,” he said. — Alex Wynne
The brainchild of Paris-based Florentin Glemarec and Kévin Nompeix, EgonLab is among the new generation of digital-first brands — the young genderless label, launched just last year, already has 22,000 Instagram followers.
Describing themselves as visual artists, they offer a tailored lineup with a twist — their distinctive dip-dyed tartan suit was a social media hit, and quilted shirts are another house signature.
Their third collection, to debut online Thursday with a video featuring real-life models encrusted in a 3-D universe, will feature a focus on the tailored silhouette and new elements including deconstructed corsets, the label’s first shoes — cue knee-high lace-up boots — and a collaboration with Sergio Tacchini combining sportswear influences with EgonLab’s stricter aesthetic. The collaboration will account for around a third of the offering, Nompeix said over the phone, and is an integral part of the collection.
“The collaboration was also a response to the crisis, because we reduced our main collection,” Nompeix said. “We’re self-financed, which has made things difficult, but it also means we’re more flexible, because we have less fixed costs, and it’s just the two of us.” EgonLab works on a pre-order basis in order to avoid waste. “Sustainability is very important to us, we don’t want to overproduce,” he explained.
The pair, both in their mid-20s, met in 2017 on a shoot — Nompeix is also a modeling agent and Glemarec a stylist and photographer. Prior to founding EgonLab, Glemarec was one half of the Icosae label with his brother Valentin, but they parted ways due to disagreements over the brand’s creative direction.
EgonLab’s first collection launched at the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode’s Designers Apartment showroom last year.
Their second, presented at the Fédération’s Sphere showroom during men’s fashion week in January, picked up orders from 10 retailers. When lockdowns hit, all but one canceled, leaving them with just two stockists — U.S.-based Zen and their own e-boutique. “Buyers are approaching us again now for this third season, so we hope to recoup the boutiques we lost because of the pandemic,” Nompeix said. — A.W.
As COVID-19 fuels interest in slow fashion, one Bangkok-based brand is well positioned to cater to consumers looking for a stylish spin on sustainability.
Philip Huang, founded in 2015 by husband-and-wife team Philip Huang and Chomwan Weeraworawit, specializes in clothes and accessories made from handmade textiles using only natural dye from indigo plants and organic fibers produced in the Sakon Nakhon region of Thailand.
The brand has enjoyed high visibility thanks to the couple’s high-profile circle of friends, which includes artists Rirkrit Tiravanija and Sandro Kopp, award-winning filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia, with whom they produced masks during the coronavirus lockdown.
But the business has remained small, due in part to the constraints of producing by hand with the “indigo grandmas” of the Isan region. Now the brand has restructured production and is seeking strategic wholesale partners via its digital showroom during Paris Men’s Fashion Week.
“We reconsidered how we put together the collections so that wholesale would be possible, whereas before we went really deep with the artisanal pieces. That is super slow fashion and this is the stuff we really love, but very difficult to scale,” said Huang, a former model who is the design director of the label.
In addition, it has opened a showroom in Bangkok that will act as a studio and a place for its community to come together.
Huang’s spring 2021 “Oasis” collection features items like loungewear renditions of traditional shapes like fisherman trousers, pajamas and a doctor’s coat; organic cotton knits, and the brand’s first digital print, which it hopes will entice younger generations to get involved in the traditional process of indigo dyeing.
At the same time, Huang and Weeraworawit are celebrating the history of the craft with “Finding Oasis,” a visual essay they made with Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, the renowned cinematographer whose credits include “Call Me By Your Name.”
“In the last three months, there’s definitely been more openness for things that are handmade things,” said Weeraworawit, the brand’s creative director. “We both feel that there’s definitely more bandwidth from people, because everyone’s had to slow down. In a way, they have more time to listen to stories.” — Joelle Diderich
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