Saturday, 16 July 2011

Introducing... La Belle Eschoppe

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Approximately three months ago I met up with two French bloggers who at that time were living and working in London but about to realise a project that truly celebrated their homeland. With the guidance and help of FrenchTrotters, the blogging team behind present La Belle Échoppe. This online store is the realisation of their dreams to create and curate commerce focussed on French craft. Simple, beautiful, well made goods with a history and an interesting approach. These are values that are behind all of their posts on redingote and shared by the selection of Clarent and Carole Dehlouz for FrenchTrotters. With aspirations of my own to one day open a store, I spoke with these two excited Frenchman and left inspired and in no doubt that this coming together would provide an interesting e-commerce offering.

"We wanted to do something together. As bloggers, you get to see a lot of brands, products and build relationships but you can also see what's missing or what could be improved. Living in London we watched the growing emergence of brands that celebrated . We don't really have brands like Albam, SEH Kelly and DS Dundee in France. There's not a great deal made in France and that is a real shame because it has a real heritage. With the support of French Trotters, who brought their expertise and knowledge we could showcase these French craftsmen and bring them in to the modern world."
Laurent de Meyrignac, redingote and La Belle Échoppe

On La Belle Eschoppe you will find a considered selection of beautiful objects crafted in France, and the curious user is talked through history, production methods and origins of the brands you will find in the boutique with the help of seductive editorial content. The group have scoured the full territory of France for products that would best showcase local craft and manufacture. Of course there are typical French products from the breton tops and sailor jumpers from Le Minor in Brittany to traditionally crafted berets from in Béarn, that enable you to dress up a stereotypical Frenchman (minus the baguette under the arm) whilst playing boules (they sell a beautiful set) but these are joined by modern wares that still have a tradition in France. For example, the online boutique sells Frenchtrotter's popular own brand that is produced in Paris alongside hand crafted desert boots made in Lower Normandy and bags by Bleu de Chauffe, a young brand that produces its collection in the south of France with organic products all sourced in France. It is this combination of history and modernity and the expected alongside the unexpected that really excites.

The site itself launched last month to widespread acclaim and this led to the team being invited to bring their concept to (capsule) tradeshow as a pop up venture. During my hot and hectic weekend in Paris it was great to see just how well redingote and FrenchTrotters have combined to realise La Belle Eschoppe. As much as I enjoy the experience of shopping online, it was a real pleasure to familiarise myself with their selection. I soon fell for their gallic charms. Below are a selection of pieces that caught my eye...

La Belle Eschoppe at (capsule)

An enticing table of French produce that demonstrates the sheer variety of products on offer. From the breton top to authentic Basque espadrilles to cookware.

What could be more French than these Breton shirts? Knitted and made by Le Minor which is a company located in the South-West of the Morbihan since 1965. Breton shirts have been worn by sailors of Brittany since 1858, when they first were introduced to equip the French Navy. They had twenty one blue stripes that were said to represent the number of battles that were won by Napoléon. The version that caught my eye and later found itself in my shopping bag has a little twist, it has one red stripe....Trafalgar maybe? For La Belle Échoppe, Le Minor has reissued the label "Spéciale Marine" of its origins.

These espadrilles are made by Don Quichosse in Mauléon, the European capital of the espadrille, located in the centre of the Basque country. Each element of the shoe is made in the workshop of Don Quichosse and is then welted together with the particular white thread by craftsmen in their own home.

Entirely made in Paris for Frenchtrotter, this shirt was crafted with the leftover cloth of luxury houses. This is why each design is limited to a few dozen pieces. The high quality of the cloth gives each shirt an amazing feel. Very high attention is given to the details : the buttons are made out of mother of pearl, the inside seams are protected, the pen pocket is reinforced and the label has been signed by the maker.

Bleu de Chauffe is a young French brand that has gathered the remaining traditional manufacturers around them to produce their collection. Mainly inspired by workwear, the bags are made in France out of materials that respect the environment. Raw edges and internal pockets are some of the features that make it an authentic product that will age beautifully.

Desert boots are a classic that will always be fashionable. Their simplicity instantly made them a classic that was copied in every way possible. For this version, Empreinte adds its know-how and uses only locally made materials in order to produce boot that is as friendly on the environment (the soles are partially made from recycled rubber) as it is on the eyes.

These pencils have been made in Lay, in the Loire by the French Pencil Company (Compagnie Française du Crayon) which is the last to still produce pencils in France.

Made in Chambéry, these luxury edition Opinel knives are as beautiful as they are dangerous. Laurent conceded that he had to reluctantly leave one of these at the security gate at Eurostar.

P. Frapin perfums has to win a przie for the most seductive tale. Born from a chance encounter between the cognac distiller of Frapin and David Frossard. The pair came together and were united by a shared passion for perfumes and cognac. Perfumes and cognac have remarkably similar making processes. Inspired by the story around the making of Cognac and the everyday life around the castle were it is produced, they decided to create P. Frapin & Cie.

In “Qualités de vie, objets des valeurs quotidienne” (which could be badly translated as “Qualities of life, objects of daily values”), Ermine Herscher lists with precision all the cult objects making a French daily life in 1991, to her “travelling through the France of objects is like getting a History book”. It mirrors the ideals of La Belle Échoppe perfectly.

As mentioned above, La Belle Échoppe is a curation of French craft but it as interested in telling the story of these products as it is in selling them. The site, combined with the blog aims to showcase the craftsmanship, both traditional and modern, that combine to create each and every product on offer. Below are a few shots from recent factory visits..

Factory shots courtesy of La Belle Eschoppe

To concentrate on “Made in France” is a way for this group to focus their passion and knowledge on something they truly believe in. With La Belle Eschoppe, they've created a project on a human scale, in a sustainable way whilst forging privileged relationships with a variety of suppliers and craftsmen across France. All of this guarantees the best quality of products available in addition to reminding us all that there are still a lot of beautiful things which are still made in their beloved country. Vive l'artisanat de la France!


JM said...

Great to see a blog translating its' focus into an actual retail vision. Interesting, too, to see such a wealth of traditional French craft - one of the things that really struck me at the Paris shows was the lack of indigenous heritage brands (Arnys being the possible exception) on show alongside all the big (and relatively modern) global names

Matthew Spade said...

this is the kind of thing i really love and more! i'm really wanting to go to a factory and check out the process of how things of made, i'm looking into it


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