Ethical Luxury: Could the Luxury Industry Be Headed Back to Its Roots?
Mar 04 2009
Once upon a time, before the French luxury industry was dominated by big conglomerates and luxury brands were traded on the CAC 40, luxury products were the domain of l'artisan, the French term for "craftsman". Images of craftsmen painstakingly crafting their wares in cramped workshops filled from floor to ceiling with old-fashioned looking tools come to mind. In reality, the luxury industry has not worked like this for a very long time. For one thing, output for most luxury brands has increased considerably to meet growing demand and, perhaps most significantly, luxury products now have a seasonal turnover that conforms roughly to the fashion cycle. Yet, for at least one French designer, Jerome Dreyfuss, a return to the values and techniques represented by the quaint image described above is precisely what he has in mind.
Dreyfuss, who was once a darling of the French fashion press, had all but disappeared from the fashion scene in recent years. While he's left behind the manic world of pret-a-porter, he hasn't left the fashion world entirely. He now focuses his energy on his accessories line and a philosophy he calls "Agrocouture", a play on the word "agriculture" to suggest both a return to artisanal methods of craftsmanship and the use of more environmentally friendly techniques and materials. For now, Agrocouture refers to a line of handbags and small leather accessories all crafted in accordance with a strict set of ethical guidelines. At the core of his approach is the rejection of the superficial, trend-driven, ever-faster turnover of fashion that dictate that we buy a new handbag each season. For more information about Dreyfuss' point of view and his Agrocouture philosophy, please see a brief interview (in English) posted on Le Modalogue or Buzz2luxe.
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