Sustainability at Pitti:
Edition 100
The Dreamers Wear Uniforme

Sustainability at Pitti is a series of interviews that celebrate fashion’s climate-conscious innovators. By providing a platform for the designers that put sustainability at the core of their brand, we hope to inspire and lead a wave of change within our industry, helping us all to push for a better future together.

For Hugues Fauchard and Rémi Bats, fashion is all about the what if. “Holding onto the capacity for dreaming is essential for us,” says the duo, who first met nine years ago while studying at Paris’ Studio Berçot fashion school and have been inseparable ever since. After presenting their graduate collection together and then working for brands like Balenciaga and Hermès (Bats), and Lanvin and Wooyoungmi (Fauchard), they decided to launch their own: Uniforme.
“What inspired us to go into fashion in the first place is that it’s an industry where anything is possible. We were inspired by great designers who came before us, and we hope that others will consider our work and follow their own dream.”

They describe their brand as a collection of ‘sustainable style’ essentials made in France and Italy and crafted by specialized artisans: “We launched it [in 2017] because we both wanted to have a professional life in sync with our personal lifestyle and also because we wanted to have a very local production with a low impact and very strict management of resources in order to avoid any waste.”

For a deeper dive into Uniforme and its production process, we sat down with the brand shortly before their SS22 collection reveal. Find our conversation below.
Can you talk us through your latest collection? What’s the story there?

A few months ago, as we were working on pilot uniforms, we heard a member of the French Ecologist party on  the radio stating that “air travel should no longer be a childhood dream." It kind of disturbed us a bit because there is nothing less polluting than dreaming — it’s actually the most sustainable thing you can do.  So, we decided to use our Spring-Summer 2022 collection as a platform to react to this statement. Holding onto the capacity for dreaming is essential for us and is definitely a part of our brand's DNA. With this collection, we wanted to say that you can dream of fashion, flying, or anything else. From dreams come innovation and progress.

You speak of “conscious minimalism.” What does that mean to you?

Rémi and I have always been drawn to minimal designs — in fashion, in architecture, in furniture, in many creative fields. This is something that has connected our creative visions since the very beginning. Quite evidently we knew that our brand would evolve around this but it was not enough. We wanted to add a conscious side to minimalism with a strong focus on quality, durability, and local craft. Conscious minimalism means that we work on timeless yet creative designs with the lowest impact possible.

Where do you source your materials? What is important to you when working with a supplier?

We source our materials in Italy, Belgium, England, and Austria. We only work with specialized suppliers that have historically been leaders and the best in their fields such as Loden in Austria.  What matters the most for us is the traceability and quality of the yarn but also the manufacturing process and how our suppliers manage their use of water and power. We look for innovation but only if it goes with craft. Quality will always be the most important thing to us as it is almost always connected to durability.

Can you talk us through your production process?

In 2020, we moved the Uniforme studio from Paris to Nantes so that we could work hand-in-hand with our local manufacturers and reconnect with nature. We are now less than 30 minutes away from our factories and workshops. Our production process is always the same. We only make a single sample per design each season. In order to achieve that we visit our French manufacturers on a daily basis when we develop the collection so we can adjust every detail and solve any problems ahead of the garment making. This rationalized production process has helped us drastically reduce our fabric and supply consumption as we only use what we precisely need.
How does a collection inspired by aviation pair with your statements on seeking a light carbon footprint? 

Our collection was not inspired by aviation but by dreams. As this collection came as a reaction to a political statement on air travel, we used graphic elements from planes but, in the end, our inspiration was children's dreams. As designers, we are very lucky to be able to talk about anything in our collections. However, we did not have any statement to make about aviation as we all know the impact it has. This being said, we have investigated a lot on this topic and major innovations are on their way. Our point in this collection was to say that from dreams will come alternatives as mankind has always wanted to fly and has extensively dreamt about it.  Our subject is fashion and its impact which is already a lot to handle. There are alternatives even in fashion and we work hard to promote them and make them live.

How do you pair your awareness about the fashion industry’s climate impact with designing and creating new products? 

We pair it by making reasonably sized collections only twice a year with timeless designs that won't be out of trend in a heartbeat. We absolutely loathe disposable garments and firmly believe that moderation is key in our industry. Quality over quantity. We believe in a way of consuming fashion that involves buying sparingly but better, holding on to favorites, and passing them along. If you love something, you want to wear it forever.
What are the biggest obstacles you face as a designer in regards to creating responsible collections? 

Before launching the brand we tried to identify what the biggest obstacles would be and [then] we built our supply chain around them. Our choice of very local production helped us a lot as we were able to produce exactly what we sold, which can be an issue for young designers. We made sure to have an operational supply chain before launching the brand. One remaining obstacle, though, is the access to certified fabric sometimes due to the high MOQ (minimum order quantity) that some suppliers request, which goes against our ethos of limited production, but it's getting better.

How do you feel about seasonal showcases? Do you think we still need to present collections in such a way? 

Fashion has been historically built around seasonal showcases so it is something very deep-rooted. We still have four seasons even though it tends to change because of global warming so we still need to adapt our offer. Being able to present a collection every six months is something that we like because as designers we don't express our creative vision the same way depending on the season. But once again, we advocate for moderation. We don't have to change the whole industry, we just need to be more conscious and reasonable size-wise.
How do you feel about the industry’s current sustainability efforts? What change do you hope to see?  

Every single effort is valuable and goes in the right direction. However, we firmly believe that certified fabrics and recycled paper bags won't be the solution to all our problems. Fast fashion with disposable garments in organic cotton is still fast fashion and keeps producing way too much. Size and scale are part of the answers when it comes to sustainability. We do hope that we will slow down and go back to local production. At least this is what we do.

Do you have any top tips or words of advice for brands and designers looking to be more responsible in their work? 

Reuse everything you have. Make an inventory of what is available in your studio before buying anything new and be creative. Consider upcycling. Ask your suppliers for their stock — they might not be interested at first but be persuasive. Make "Scraps Are Never Waste" your motto.
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