French-speaking Switzerland: these sustainable fashion players

Tara Matthey, founder of Crop Slow Mode, in Sion

© FLORENCE ZUFFEREY

It is in the heart of the capital of Valais that this 51-year-old Indo-Irish woman, born in England, left her trunks full of vintage treasures. Tara Matthey opened the Crop Slow Mode store in the fall of 2020 in Sion, as Covid-19 immobilized her professional branch: theatrical costumes. After graduating in fashion in Liverpool, Tara worked as a stylist in London. Out of love, she emigrated to Switzerland and, faced with the lack of opportunities in her sector, she left for the wardrobe. “I worked eleven years at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. This environment seemed natural to me, as I love literature, clothing history, cinema and dance. Witnessing the creative process, from model to stage, is magical.”

Task: recycling

When he moved to Valais, he co-founded the Éthique & Tac association, which organizes events around responsible fashion. It’s because Tara is a big fan of second-hand clothes.

“I always hunted, in England when I was a teenager, in the markets of Switzerland, she remembers. Also, I have concerns about the environment: we cannot continue to consume fast fashion.

The bubbly 50s take on a serious air. “We have to relearn the true cost of clothes and where fabrics come from.” She is particularly interested inreuse: “During my studies in England, I participated in recycling projects in collaboration with OXFAM, it meant a lot to me.”

French-speaking Switzerland: these sustainable fashion players
© FLORENCE ZUFFEREY

A dedicated space to promote eco-responsible fashion has been Tara Matthey’s goal for a long time. In her store, a wide variety of vintage clothes and accessories, from the 1940s, coexists with a selection of pieces from the small green labels Where Is Marlo and Bandapar, in addition to a consignment department. “I want to develop a department reuse, reveals Tara enthusiastically. I’m full of ideas! We could sew simple, pretty things,” she continues, pulling a men’s shirt off a hanger. “In the future I would like to buy less shares, I have so much fabric, some are from my life in the UK.” Tara takes us to the room next to Crop Slow Mode, which is her storage. A veritable Ali Baba cave where eighties dresses and rhinestone looks wait patiently. “I also rent my best vintage finds as well as evening wear. I am currently shifting my inventory to turn this room into a workshop, which I can rent and where I will sew my collections. reuse. But my dream is to have a huge space – at least 150 m2! – entirely dedicated to ethical fashion.”

Slow Cut Mode, Grand-Pont 44, Sion

Maïté Sulliger, founder of Fripsquare, in Lausanne and online

French-speaking Switzerland: these sustainable fashion players
© BRIGITTE BESSON

Ultra-modern 90s looks, stylish cars, harmonious feed… scrolling through Fripsquare’s Instagram account, we hope to find new clothes. Maïté Sulliger was in good school. At 28, the founder of this online thrift store already has a rich career behind her. After training in marketing, she worked as a buyer for a Swiss online sales site, then flew to England to join the Missguided brand. I am a big lover of fashion. As a student, I did odd jobs in stores. But there are few professional opportunities in Switzerland and I was discouraged from training in this area. So I turned to e-commerce. In the lair of Missguided, a fast fashion brand, Maïté is uncomfortable.

“I have always lived with this paradox: my passion for fashion and knowing that this industry contributes to ruining the planet. It didn’t fit my values.”

She then returned to Switzerland.

Used clothes for everyone

Becoming a mother, the desire to evolve in fashion does not abandon her. She sets herself a challenge: to offer stylish pieces with what already exists. “I was always asked where I bought the clothes I was looking for, so I decided to take a chance! I read many books, watched videos to educate myself on entrepreneurship and website building. Along with part-time work and my work as a mother, I launched Fripsquare in 2020.”

In times of Covid, without capital, she launched her online business. Maïté strongly believes in digital technology. “It’s the future! In addition, social networks make it possible to reach a wider clientele. Fripsquare is growing thanks to word of mouth and some collaborations with influencers. Over time, the entrepreneur needs a space to store the nuggets she selects little by little “I found this unusual place, all glass, which is an old gas station. I open the physical store on demand. What works best? Depends on where I put my energy, laughs Maïté. I would say half and half: people like to come and try the store and others prefer the website.” Selling online still presents challenges when selling second-hand.

“Of course: I spend my time taking pictures! The pieces go by fast and you have to start all over again, continues Maïté. But I want to spend time on branding, it’s important. I am inspired by fast fashion techniques.

Maïté always wants to go further. She launched a responsible sunglasses collection this summer. Next step? Develop the website to reach German-speaking Switzerland.

Avenue Edouard-Dapples 15 bis, Lausanne and at frip-square.com

Isa Boucharlat, Aurelia Joly and Laure Paschoud, managers of La Trame, in Lausanne

French-speaking Switzerland: these sustainable fashion players
© SANDRINE LAGNAZ

La Trame is a special place. Nestled in the heart of the Olympic city, this huge, quirky space contains an original concept inspired by La Textilerie in Paris. The idea comes straight from the creative imagination of Isa Boucharlat, a theater costume designer for over 30 years.

“I was warned about excessive clothing consumption too early. In 2008, I opened an ethical store for six years. I think I arrived a little early.”

Relentless, Isa wants to create a space entirely dedicated to the sustainability of textiles. She embarked on the La Trame adventure in 2020. She took on Laure Paschoud, an itinerant stylist who trained in London, Paris and Tokyo, before selling her ethical brand at Isa’s boutique, as did Aurelia Joly, a fashion design graduate at HEAD, co-creator of the small record label Valentoine for three years and high school teacher.

Textile and integration

Supported by the Idée21 incubator and winner of the participatory budget of Lausanne, a non-profit association is born and settles in this multifunctional place. La Trame opens its doors in spring 2022: in its boutique space, it offers second-hand clothes and accessories. “Our pieces come from donations”, comments Aurelia. We have implemented a circular economy concept: for each bag of clothes in good condition, 10 points are thanked, equivalent to 10 fr., which we exchange for second-hand clothes or sewing equipment at La Trame.”

French-speaking Switzerland: these sustainable fashion players
© SANDRINE LAGNAZ

On the corner of the haberdashery, for example, which contains beautiful vintage fabrics, or against a moment spent at the back of the store, in the bright space of the workshop.

“Here, you can rent a sewing machine by the hour to do personal work,” explains Laure. We also organize crochet, embroidery, knitting and sewing workshops.”

“As there was a strong demand, we also offer a change service”, continues the co-founder. La Trame also aims to promote the professional integration of migrants. “Many migrants have the know-how and Swiss designers manufacture abroad, it’s absurd,” criticizes Laure. Les Trameuses have many ideas to develop exchanges between communities. “We want to make La Trame a lively place,” says Isa. Maybe organize intergenerational courses or courses in other languages. We will also conduct a workshop on the Night of the Museums, on the 24th of September, to promote textiles from previous editions. Because Isa, Laure and Aurelia are convinced: sharing and integration are also part of the ecological transition.

La Trame, rue de la Tour 3, Lausanne

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