Designer François Girbaud has collaborated with fabric manufacturer Eurojersey and designed the capsule The Sensitive Preformers collection produced by Petratex garment manufacturer. Girbaud explained why this collection was born and what he sees in the future of fashion and sportswear.
How was the idea for this collaboration with Eurojersey born?
Sensitive Fabrics by Eurojersey were born in 1989, in times when much was changing. The Berlin Wall was pulled down, political blocks and balances were changing and apparel was evolving radically. Sports, for instance, were becoming an integral part of lifestyle and fashion. Marithé and I launched SPQRCITY, to respond to the increasing need for different, more comfortable, more body-conscious clothing with a cooler image. We also looked for new, alternative materials and production techniques. I clearly remember in 1989 when Giorgio Crespi, at that time general manager of Eurojersey, and father of Andrea, present general manager of the company, showed me a tanga made with a new material - Sensitive Fabric. It was made from a small triangle and a few strings thermosealed together. Sensitive Fabrics were revolutionary as it could be used for both underwear and outer apparel. These fabrics need neither hemming nor stitching, as they don’t fray and can be thermosealed. They have a very soft hand, is wrinkle-free, and needs no ironing. Since then, we, as M+FG, started using it in our collections. We later collaborated more often with the company and, from 2004 especially, have worked with them on a constant basis.
How can this collaboration make a difference for the market?
We created this collaboration with three components - a textile manufacturer, Eurojersey, a specialized Portuguese garment manufacturer, Petratex, that works with top companies and brands, and my vision. Through this collaboration customers can find a new ingredient - Sensitive Fabrics - with a new inspiration for creating ideas that can bring them new market perspectives and product evolutions for years.
What is new in this collection “The Sensitive Preformers”?
This capsule collection creates an aesthetic revolution with its support for the dynamic lifestyle of today’s cities, and reflects three connected aspects: functionality, well-defined shapes and urban style. The collection offers a series of modern, multi-purpose garments endowed with the comfort of Sensitive Fabrics, which, as well as being easy to wash and wrinkle-free, offer a modern-day take on the concept of “sport utility” and can accompany the wearer throughout the whole day and all sorts of different activities. Styles can be worn both at work and when cycling, thanks to the application of reflective strips, which can be concealed on the back, on trouser bottoms and cuffs. We have created an alternative to fatigue pants or cargo trousers for everyday life in the city. Also part of this collection are thermosealed jackets, which have functional hidden pockets and are assembled with light-reflecting tape. The women’s trouser styles (Ventilatour and Preformer) have inner back pockets incorporating silicon paddings to enhance the wearer’s curves. In this case, we are creating styles specifically for women, moving away from “Rosy the Riveter” inspired work-wear. This iconic illustration symbolized the role of the six million women, who worked in factories to produce munitions during the Second World War. Her men’s work-overalls are still today a major reference for women’s leisurewear.
Sensitive Fabrics can also be printed with high-resolution patterns; our “Activahiné” designs of this capsule reinvent the cool prints of American pop culture and leisure codes from the '50s and '60s.
What new product evolutions might this collaboration bring?
Fabrics like Sensitive Fabrics are characterized by three dimensions. In addition to length and height, a third dimension can be created with an element such as padding (as with the silicon inserts that can be added to trousers).
What is your vision of the present fashion market situation and where is it going?
There are very few personalities and designers left in this market. After Elio’s departure, only Adriano Goldschmied and I remain today. I have never liked the idea of vintage and looking back at the past, nor reproducing or repairing old pieces. I have always preferred to look to the future. I think, for instance, that great partnerships with forward-thinking industrial partners can set new trends, as well as put into place the steps to discovering new sustainable production methods to protect the environment. I think that the garment industry has developed great machines, but without a vision they cannot go far. Innovation has to provide an answer to the needs of present-day life. There have been great talents who have reinvented sportswear, such as Massimo Osti, for instance, or Olmes Carretti, and all the great work that has been done by the many Italian industrial families…Today there is much talk about styling, but no real innovation. Only finance matters.
I am collaborating with the Moroccan industry, for instance. There is much that can be done by collaborating with them, their great industrial system, great textile tradition and creativity. For sure, the system of designers is an old one.
Francois Girbaud for Eurojersey
What about sustainable fashion? What’s its future like?
I don’t think that the future lies in recycling or up-cycling. Recycled carded wool cannot be compared with superfine quality wools, from Biella, for instance. That only creates poor fashion, nothing more. Trying to find new solutions that preserve resources, save water and protect the environment is good. Studying new uses for laser treatments is one path - we have harmed nature so much that we have had to find new solutions to preserve it. Going beyond every frontier can bring great innovation. I also work with Pakistani companies that have achieved great results by employing laser and new cleaner technologies.
And all this also has to be conveyed to the final consumer. For instance, Andrea Crespi of Eurojersey says that almost every entrepreneur says they are doing something for the environment by simply employing LED lighting systems and using photovoltaic panels. But that's not enough. The industry is responsible for 40% of what can be done, but 60% of the impact depends upon consumers’ attitudes. They can make such a difference and influence industry practices...
Eurojersey has embarked on a sustainable path since they launched Sensitive Fabrics and the SensitivEcoSystem program: the mission consisted of converting costs into value by turning the investments for the purchase of state-of-the-art machineries into an efficiency advantage, also resulting in a lower environmental impact. They work though a proper ecosystem, involving clients, suppliers and consumers and encouraging them to join in the creation of a sustainable production chain, managing to keep the whole production process under control, determining positive consequences on the environment and on the local economy.
What is the future of jeans?
Every trend should express some new statement and vision. In the past we made destroyed jeans - as did Hamnett and Westwood - but that was just a form of protest against the bourgeois system and not simply as a decorative aspect as it is today; we had something to say.
The future of jeans cannot be based on vintage or second hand jeans. We need some true new direction.
I am now living in LA and notice that there is so much that can be done there. We can discover new fibers, fabrics and uses. Marithé and I have made our own way by creating our Mad Lane project that is sold directly to the consumer and skips the entire in-between system based on intermediary people and structures…
I continue to develop new denim treatments and to invent jeans styles to show that there are new ways to express one's own personality and body type. We have had enough of skin-tight jeans. The times of blond anorexic fashion icons have gone. Now personalities like Kim Kardashian and Hispanic body types are dictating the new canons of beauty. The age of the pin-up is long gone. The times when jeans brands became successful because some nice starlet was wearing them are no more. Now anyone can create a selfie and become a celebrity thanks to social networks.
Real innovation and serious partnerships with industrial partners are becoming important and can define a new future for the jeans and fashion markets.