Entretien avec Charlotte Daudré-Vignier, fondatrice de Carbone 14

Interview with Charlotte Daudré-Vignier, founder of Carbone 14

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Charlotte Daudré-Vignier (Charlie) is the founder and designer of the young upcycling brand Carbone 14 (carbon 14 is present in all living organisms including linen, wool or silk. It allows in particular the dating of clothing). Having graduated from the IFM, the young woman defends a vision of fashion that she cannot separate from its sustainable aspect. Vintage pieces reworked in the recycling manner (using old materials to create new ones), recovery and repair of damaged pieces, for Charlie, quality clothing must and deserves to last.

In collaboration with Hast, Charlie presents to us, through several video tutorials , his tips for best maintaining clothes. A collaboration whose aim is to demonstrate our common motivations: that of bringing the world of fashion towards better days, more respectful of the planet and workers but also, the desire to revalorize old know-how that is sometimes too quickly forgotten! Encounter.

When did you become interested in textiles?

I started to be interested in textiles very early because my mother sewed a lot. At 6 years old, I made my first creation: a doll dress. It was at that moment that a great love story was born between the fabric and me. In fact, it was more the fabric that caught my eye than the clothing itself.

Tell us a little about your background and how working with Hast makes sense with your understanding of fashion?

Initially, I was hesitant about getting into the fashion industry, which scared me a little. So I started working in a very distant sector: cybersecurity, in Spain where I grew up. I gave all my colleagues a makeover! I said to myself that maybe there was something, and I quickly joined the French Fashion Institute. This is where I really discovered the sustainable and ethical development aspect. I had already worked on these themes but I did not realize the extent of the problem in fashion and all the excesses in terms of pollution and social abuse.

Shortly after, I created a first brand, a little messy. Through meetings and learning, the adventure really began with Carbone 14, a more mature project in my opinion. I was keen to combine design and eco-responsibility, with the idea of ​​returning to old values, recovery, custom modeling, small businesses, etc. I have a taste for unique pieces, strong pieces produced with beautiful materials.

Developing a project related to clothing repair had already been on my mind for a while, so it was a perfect fit when we discussed it with Hast. I like the brand because it makes simple but high-quality clothes, with beautiful materials and beautiful drapes. I think we share the same values ​​on the lifespan and appreciation of beautiful clothing.

What vision do you have of the fashion world and its current evolution?

The departments dedicated to sustainability are not really integrated into the companies, and that is a shame because the measures taken often lack consistency. It's easy to communicate, but production must follow behind.

If there is a real desire to move in the right direction, it is achievable in 2021. It is more expensive, of course, but there really are solutions. In my opinion, not trying to be eco-responsible today is a sign of bad will. I am rather optimistic seeing that the battles we are waging at the moment are coming together: feminism, social rights, sustainable development. There is a real energy, a positive anger which allows us to question our ways of operating.

As for my vision of fashion in the broad sense: I have the impression that we are letting the product speak more and more. I like the idea of ​​showing images without falling into excessive story-telling. There is always a story behind a piece of clothing, and even more so with upcycling. We transform an object that has already been worn, we tell the story of the textile artisan who created it, of the person who kept it. I like the idea of ​​showing raw images, of not telling things too much, but rather of suggesting.

How did you get the idea to talk about clothing care? It’s quite different from what classic “designers” offer.

It's something I've been doing since I was little. My family always asked me for tips on removing stains and I wrote everything down in a notebook. Recently and by talking about it around me, I realized that there was a concrete need.

In fact, I dabbled in doing it for a long time. For what ? Because there are already tons and tons of pages on this on the internet. It's a bit has-been, and most of the time, we explain how to do it but we don't show. For someone not very manual, it's not always easy to follow. With a three-minute “tutorial” video format it is very easy to explain how to get rid of a stain or sew on a button. Repairing then seems less inaccessible and we will be able to prioritize this work rather than buying yet another item of clothing perhaps less dear to our hearts!

Can we be sustainable and profitable?

This is an interesting but also taboo question. I think so, but it all depends on what you call profitable. If we want to make 100% profit, we won't do it at Carbone 14. This is what I explain to my clients. When I sell a pure virgin wool coat for 250 euros, it's because I have to do a lot of work upstream: find the wool and the right supplier, travel, inspect the fabric, check the material, make the pattern.

I also do the tailoring, pattern making, fittings etc. all this in Paris. So everything has a scale. When a dress from a fast fashion brand is made in 10,000 copies, the pattern does not actually cost very much...

In my opinion, if you want to produce quality, like the milliners of the time, you can be profitable, but you have to know what profitability you want. Quality cannot be neglected and must return to the center of creation. And it’s when you take the time that it’s done well!