The New Business Models of Northern Fashion

“Five nine”. Reference to the Nord department 59. This is the name of these jeans made in Hauts-de-France, assembled in Neuville-en-Ferrain near Roubaix. In 100% recycled canvas, it is sold for 59.59 euros in Jules stores. These jeans will be the first in a long line since the site, called Fashion Cube Denim Center, born from the cluster of brands in the Mulliez galaxy, will subsequently supply the brands Pimkie, Bizbee, Rouge-Gorge and Grain de Malice.

Born four years ago in the mind of project manager Christian Kinner, it took some pretty crazy customers to try this new made in France adventure where everything had to be relearned. Jean-Christophe Garbino, CEO of Fashion Cube, underlined during the inauguration of the site in early April. The investment of 3 million euros was supported by the European metropolis of Lille (400,000 euros) and by the Regional Council of Hauts-de-France (400,000 euros).

Automation is of great importance here, with a view to reducing manufacturing costs. On site, the fabric passes through an Electra brand cutting line, is assembled in a room with some fifty SIP Italy or Brother sewing machines, washed and dried in Tonello machines (with ozone and laser, requiring 40 times less water) .

Nearby duplicate

If this economic model proves to be profitable, Fashion Cube will not exclude “duplicate” local mini factories, in other regions or even abroad. Above all, the business model of these jeans will not imply ” produce only what we can sell, without discount and without residue at the end of the collection, to restore all its value to a product made in France and citizen underlined Christian Kinner, former CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) manager at Pimkie and leader of the Fashion Cube project. It is therefore a small revolution in the fashion world, which uses fabrics with a high carbon footprint, purchases products in very large quantities over a year in advance and where discount is part of the landscape.

These jeans made in the North also want to give recycled materials a prominent place, in order to generate a lower ecological footprint. If the Turkish fabric of this first model contains a canvas with 81% recycled cotton, 17% recycled polyester and 2% recycled elastane, the goal is clear to eventually enter the circular economy. † Ultimately, we want customers to buy jeans and, once worn, return them to us so that the material can be reused to make other products. “, continues the CEO of Fashion Cube.

Only produce what is sold

Until Roubaix, Atelier Agile also begins its textile revolution. Created a little less than a year ago, it brings together four textile players: two manufacturers, with the northern stockings Lemahieu and Les Tissages de Charlieu, based in the Loire, two northern distributors with Blancheporte Id Group (Okaïdi, Obaïdi, Jacadi, etc. .) as well as the Roubaix association of textile professionals Fashion Green Hub.

The goal this time is to only produce what was sold the previous week in order to complement the online sales sites and stores as accurately as possible. The model is intended to better meet demand and respond better to trends… Except that this just-in-time production requires a complete rethink of the way clothing is produced.

The investment is substantial, because the new machines alone represent 630,000 euros of investment (out of 850,000 in total) with printer, dryer, finishing, automatic cutting, 50 sewing machines (sewing machine, serger, buttonhole, specific …). The Atelier Agile was financially supported by the regional council with a support of 600,000 euros in the context of the PIA (Programme of Investments for the Future). It was also supported by the European metropolis of Lille (MEL), the town hall of Roubaix, ADEME (ecological transition agency) and Le Défi (a support organization for the fashion industry).

Atelier Agile only focuses on the local production of textile collections, in small series. Here too, the concept could be applied elsewhere, in order to produce as close as possible to the place of consumption. † Our goal is not to replace current delivery methods, because today we have neither the resources nor all the skills to move all production warns Guillaume Aélion, director of operations. † In the 90s the French wore 95% made in France. Today it is barely 3%, while 1% of production represents 4,000 jobs. In the next ten years, it is certainly possible that the sector will move 20 to 25% to France, which amounts to 80,000 jobs. Where L’Atelier agile aims to train 25 to 30 people and to achieve a turnover of around 3 million euros.

Complete paradigm shift

What you need to understand is that the paradigm shift is more important than you may think: the question is not only to produce in France, but also to know how to envision the new business model. » continues Guillaume Aélion. † Today, unsold items are heavily discounted in order to be able to buy back the next stock in increasing volumes to negotiate more and more prices… Which generates even more unsold items! To develop made in France, you need a new model, without stock and without extra costs, while developing recycling and upcycling, for a product that is sold at the right price.

Production is digitized within the Agile Workshop: a design agency designs in 3D/2D, after which the product is printed, automatically cut and assembled. “In addition to our training center, we have referred to biological materials made in France, essential to be able to produce in seven days and to be virtuous in consumption”† With this in mind, bundling orders makes it possible to reduce scrap by placing more products of different sizes in the same fabric area.

Whether at Fashion Cube or at L’Atelier Agile, the planned production will in any case only represent a small part of the sales of brands. For L’Atelier Agile, the 230,000 t-shirts that can be produced are nothing compared to the 13 million t-shirts sold each year for the Okaidi brand alone. At Fashion Cube, the site should be able to market 2,000 jeans per day or 410,000 jeans per year by 2024. This represents only 6% of the volume of jeans sold each year in Jules, Pimkie, Bizbee, Rouge-Gorge and Grain de Malice. † What we set up with Fashion Cube in Neuville-en-Ferrain is just the beginning of the story of this reindustrialization