Meet the talented Valentine Gauthier, one of France’s first sustainable fashion designers
By Chere Di Boscio
Valentine Gauthier has lived a quintessentially French fashion life. The Gallic designer gained her intellectual credentials by studying Geo-Ethnology, then demonstrated that beauty and brains can certainly mix while she worked as a model. With her interest in fashion sparked, she then turned her attentions to creating clothing as a Petit Main for Maison Martin Margiela. Finally, she decided that she wanted to work on a more sustainable fashion line, so she launched her own label in 2007.
The opening of the first Valentine Gauthier shop was a huge success. The designer based herself in the trendy Marais district of Paris, and she was determined to produce ethically made clothing from eco-friendly materials, produced by well paid labourers in France, of course. But she also chose to employ factories in Spain and India. She visits those production facilities herself regularly, to ensure working conditions are high, safe and ethical.
Her beautifully-cut, colourful, classically cool pieces made from eco-friendly fabrics such as silk, organic cotton, cupro and recycled fabrics, were soon a hit all over France and beyond. Which presented a bit of a problem. Using fairly paid labour and demanding eco-friendly materials meant that production of her pieces could not meet demand as easily as she could have if she had transferred the work to sweatshops in South Asia, for example. But Gauthier would not compromise her ethics.
Fortunately, the designer consulted with experts in the field of production, and voila–her brand exploded further into the French fashion scene, and importantly, remained ethical.
Today, Valentine Gauthier has received the stamp of approval from Paris’s 1.618 Sustainable Luxury, and the brand is a firm favourite with the creme de la creme of French society. And no wonder: these classic pieces, including Derbies, silky kimonos, fine cotton blouses, sporty polo shirts, perfectly draped trousers, will wear well from year to year, and the fine fabrics save les madames de Paris the embarrassment of ever being caught wearing something as gauche as polyester.
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