If Fashion Startups Could Dream
What technologies does a custom clothing start-up dream about? Cindy Lebriez, the creator of the Auchan Bouton Noir project, says investing in cutting-edge production tools is a no-brainer. When it comes to helping these technologies to play nicely with each other, the secret's in the algorithms.
Cindy, what's your dream for the perfect factory or technology?
I've got so many, where do I start?
At Bouton Noir, we started off by automating everything we could, from taking measurements to cutting fabric. Only the sewing stage is beyond us; the machines haven't evolved in over 30 years. For everything else, the powerful technologies are already out there; they just don't work together. When I created our production line, the magic came from the algorithms, which tie each of the stages together.
My first dream would be to see greater standardization. My background is in the food industry, which is highly standardized. For example, I found that in the fashion industry, each supplier used a different measurement method, depending on the country or school where its teams were originally trained! Lack of standardization calls for developing specific algorithms for interfacing our Bodyscan to each individual supplier.
How important is sustainability in your positioning?
Vitally important. Innovations often come from an initial restriction; in the case of Bouton Noir, small volumes meant it was prohibitively expensive to transport rolls of fabric or clothes produced in North Africa.
The solution was to create a production line behind the shop, which turned out to be economically efficient and environmentally friendly. Because transport costs are reduced to a minimum, I can buy high-end, high-quality fabrics, some of which are produced from recycled textiles. I even use denim made out of nettle!
The timescales are also a draw; I'll be able to deliver custom tailored jeans in an hour instead of a month. And a final selling point: the Made in France label. Because we've invested heavily in technology, not only does Made in France continue to be an attractive, creative proposition—it's also a competitive one.