Source: Saudade de Paris

This week marks the beginning of a new quarantine filled with uncertainty and questioning, during which we can feel the impression of having stepped back several months. When fears seem to supplant hopes for change, why not give the floor to young entrepreneurs who actively participate, through their project, in the creation of a different world?

We thus had the opportunity to discuss with one of the co-founders of SAUDADE DE PARIS. Launched in May 2016 by Jonathan KIRSCHSTETTER and Vilson ROCHA, this independent clothing label offers a committed wardrobe, driven by the desire to reassert the value of clothing and offer a new way of consuming fashion.

Hello Jonathan!  To begin with, can you tell us more about your professional career before the creation of the Saudade label?

I have a background in Product Design from the Olivier de Serres school but I have always been intrigued by textiles.  After my studies, I therefore decided to orient myself towards this universe and I joined a global design agency specializing in supporting textile brands. As Artistic Director, I helped brands (ranging from Decathlon to Dior) to refine their positioning and their image through the creation of brand bibles and collections. I then decided to internally integrate brands such as Le coq sportif and Lacoste.

 Source: Saudade de Paris

How would you define “Saudade de Paris” and how did the idea for its creation come about?

The creation of Saudade de Paris came to us, my business partner Vilson Rocha and I, following the simultaneous loss of our jobs. We had acquired a lot of experience and we told ourselves that this was the right time to face the implementation of a project that was more personal to us.  This is how Saudade de Paris was born, which we define as a unisex tailored wardrobe 100% made in Paris.  The idea is to restore value to textile know-how. For that, we refuse the large-scale production which makes the consumer forget all the know-how which is hidden behind a garment. Thus, each of our creations are made in half-measure, to order, to offer the privilege of acquiring much more than a simple garment: a piece of craftsmanship, a unique and eternal experience and memory.

Can you tell us more about your brand name: what does the word “saudade” mean and why this choice?

When we decided to create this concept, we were starting from scratch.  Beyond creating yet another fashion brand, what mattered most to us was to tell a story that would differentiate us.  For that, we each in our corner answered a Chinese portrait and for the question: “what if the mark was a word”, we both answered “saudade”.  It was from that word that everything fell into place. “Saudade” is a Portuguese word that was made famous by the Cape Verdean singer Césaria Évora and which can be translated as “happy melancholy”.  This feeling, we wanted our customers to feel it every time they wear one of our designs.

Paris seems to be at the heart of your brand DNA.  What are the inspirations behind the universe of your label?

Paris is a city that never ceases to amaze us and we are always fascinated by the treasures that we discover there.  We have designed our wardrobe from minimal pieces that are for us white canvases and it is our walks in Paris that give us the inspiration to personalize them. You can be influenced by an architectural detail, the design of a canvas or the color of a sky.  We also stage each of our silhouettes in the place that inspired us.

 Source: Saudade de Paris

In 2016, you and your partner were rewarded at the Positive Planet Awards in Paris, which celebrates initiatives that combine economic growth and protection of the planet around the world.  How is Saudade’s eco-responsible commitment reflected in concrete terms?

We started working on the project 5 years ago and at that time we were at the beginning of this type of awareness.  It was while looking for our first fabrics that we discovered that there were, in the heart of Paris, confidential addresses that offered stocks of fabrics from the great fashion houses.  It was when we saw this mass of forgotten material (because it was not from the last season) that something clicked inside us.  It was impossible for us to remain insensitive to this waste.  And that’s where it all fell into place and the concept was born. Offering clothing with a unique design and allowing our customers to perceive it (without moralizing them). It is this approach that has been recognized by Positive Planet and we were honored to receive this award.

 Source: Saudade de Paris

“Our entire wardrobe is unisex and can be done in half measures”: what are the different stages in creating a Saudade collection?

By wishing to offer our customers a unique experience, it was impossible for us to offer collections produced on a large scale.  So we decided to “ban” this notion from our minds and instead designed minimalist and timeless pieces that could suit any body type, age, gender. Our wardrobe is therefore composed of four pieces (shirt – pants – jacket – coat) that we offer our customers to customize in half-measure which means that they can change the shape of a collar, add a tuxedo band, choose to have a belt or buttons on a jacket etc… and above all that, each piece will be made to their size by adjusting the patronage for each of them. To illustrate the infinity of the proposals, every two months we create a silhouette that we highlight on our website and on our social networks. It’s the “Saudade” of the moment.

 Source: Saudade de Paris

 Source: Saudade de Paris

Saudade de Paris: Memories tailor”: can we read on your site.  Here we find a particular perception of clothing, an upgraded piece of craftsmanship, thus becoming an experience in its own right.  What vision of fashion do you want to convey with Saudade?

To be in fashion often means “copying” your neighbor and with Saudade de Paris we wanted to offer a different experience. The goal is therefore not to respect the latest trends observed, but rather to reveal a look, a style. Our wardrobe can be perceived as streetwear, ethnic or classic, but that is not us who define it, it is our customers who project their attitudes and personalities onto it.

How, as a young company, have you gone through quarantine and how are you dealing with the uncertain times we are going through now?

For two years, we were lucky to be able to offer our products in our own shop/ workshop, but it was a constant challenge because it was a big financial pressure.  Also at the end of October 2019, we completely redesigned our business model and decided to only sell through our website and to offer our customers a new private fitting service.  It turns out that given the current situation, we made the right choice.  Indeed, now all the cards are redistributed and having a physical point of sale no longer guarantees success.  What consumers expect is that we adapt to their constraint.  By offering to visit them via their private fitting service, we were able to go through this period with great serenity and we feel very fortunate.

 Source: Saudade de Paris

If you had to choose just one, what advice would you give to young people who are just starting out with their brand, like you a few years ago?

 The advice I always give to young designers is to come up with a strong concept but above all to get support. In France, we are fortunate to have access to many organizations that provide training in business creation. Take advantage of this, because being an entrepreneur means doing at least ten trades at a time and you have to prepare for it with the right tools.

A favorite artist who inspires you at the moment?

At the moment, we are immersing ourselves a lot in the work of Jean Prouvé.  Of course, he is not a contemporary artist but his vision inspires us a lot and comforts us in the fact that when a concept is well thought out, it can become a timeless reference.

 Source: Saudade de Paris

Thank you very much Jonathan, for your inspiring answers and sharing.

Find more information and follow the great SAUDADE adventure on their website or on their Instagram account right here.

ALEXANDRA HOSTIER
ASSISTANT EDITOR

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