L General Manager Sini Saavala and Nativité Rodriguez 24; Atelier des Matières. Photo: Theo Giacometti / Courtesy of the Hyères International Festival.
Eric Dupont before entering Chanel’s Maisons d’Art in the making Has worked for over a decade in the role of Director of Corporate Sustainability, Supply Chain Procurement and Transformation. In this role, he led a new Chanel-owned entity in northern France dedicated to collecting, deconstructing and re-evaluating discarded fashion materials and products.
Last weekend, at 23 The International Festival of Arts in Hyères, L’Atelier des Matières (ADM), has unveiled its first Circular Prize, which the jury has awarded to Finnish design Sini Saavala’s award for dresses made from materials supplied by the group. During a full day of showroom presentations, conferences and exhibitions, DuPont sat down to talk about the recycling business. This conversation has been compressed.
Finnish designer Sini Styling Zavala.
Photo: Arnel Ian Dela Gente / Courtesy of the Hyères International Festival
Another regeneration look of Sini Saavala.
Photo: Arnel Ian Dela Gente / Courtesy Hyères International Festival
Loop is a buzzword. What is the story behind L’Atelier des Matières?
morning66, we started focusing on a few routes to implement the loop. One is to create an in-house company, but we also want to work with other brands. We want to use materials as well as semi-finished and finished products. So we started with Chanel – the obvious client – but we also work with other luxury and premium brands, which I won’t list. We realized that we could build a process to enhance traceability and give industry partners peace of mind about how products were handled. Then we set the rules of the game to make everyone feel comfortable.
Landing at L’Atelier des Matières What will happen to the product?
When we collect the product, we start a value-added process. I don’t like the word “recycling”, it’s not a catchy word, and anyway I think the recycling business will create a whole new vocabulary.
So we have a team, which we call valoristes, who, with the help of the research and innovation department, found technical solutions for the materials we collected. Example: For some of the leather recovered from Chanel and elsewhere, we partnered with Authentic Material, a Toulouse-based startup that micronizes a small portion of leather and uses biosourced polymers to regenerate a piece that can be used for concealment leather shoes parts or other elements.
We therefore found a way to re-evaluate the value of the remaining handbag leather, which will not necessarily be used. Giving a product value and breathing new life into it requires a lot of R&D effort. We’re still learning to assemble the product so it’s easier to disassemble. For example, a cotton T-shirt usually has a polyester thread that is used to sew the neck. When we unbuttoned the shirt, that little line was still there, and if you dyed [the material], you would always see that line. So how can we invent ways to bring things together in order to better separate them? If something already has life, it shouldn’t go to landfill or be incinerated.
So you work both upstream and downstream.
Take it apart to see how to put it all together better, let’s Being able to provide feedback to clients on work that can be done up front makes it easier to deal with remaining work at the end of life. Then through the accretion or upgrade cycle, you reinfuse them with life. On a scientific level, it’s interesting: Chanel’s fashion entity already buys recycled materials, but our process allows us to work with fabric suppliers to develop new elements and structures. The idea was to find a way to foster innovation in R&D and crack the cyclic code, backed by Chanel. In the years ahead, everyone will have to rise to the challenge.
Atelier using a Chanel tweed jacket as an example?
Like everything else we received, the Atelier des Matières will do the jacket It is then disassembled and its elements separated for recycling through appropriate and carefully selected channels. For example, Atelier des Matières can turn tweed into a single thread for new materials.