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News Designers Business & Strategy Publish in 24 April 2024

Can relocation bring a new impulse to the French lingerie ?

Chantelle and Le Slip Français tell us about the new initiatives relaunching the Made in France label. Among them, manufacturing collaboration is a key for an optimistic future.

  • Chantelle

  • Le Slip Français

During the 2020 health crisis, the French textile industry joined its forces to produce millions of masks. Since then, new initiatives have been launched to boost the industry and invent new ways for brands to work together. And it was worth the effort. Since then, Chantelle has opened its factory doors, offering its manufacturing expertise to dozens of brands. Among them, Le Slip Français is now able to do the same with other labels, creating a virtuous circle that could well lead to a new revival of the French production. Le Slip Français Deputy Director Léa Marie and Chantelle Buying Director Dominique Berson tell us about these new initiatives.

The health crisis has opened conversations around potential collaborations within the French lingerie industry. Can you tell us more about it ?

Léa Marie : At that time, The Strategic Comity of the Fashion and Luxury Industry put together a working group to organize the production of masks. It was then that we realized how vivid the industry was. It had obviously been damaged by relocation, but we were still able to produce 20 millions of masks !

Dominique Berson
: A true synergy was created. We went from a very private model, where information was gate-keeped, to a great collective movement that laid the foundations for a Made in France business development.

What specific ideas emerged at Chantelle and Le Slip Français ?

Dominique Berson : At Chantelle, we realized that as manufacturers, we could response to many challenges that smaller brands encountered. We were not used to working together but we learned to offer them our expertise, which lead our CEO to made a decision : opening our Épernay factory to these brands. Since 2020, 160 of them consulted us and 60 entrusted us with their development and production, including Le Slip Français.

Léa Marie : Le Slip Français entirely depends of its industrial ecosystem, so we had to find new ways of working all along the value chain, with a real transparency.

Le Slip Français

Transparency is at the heart of the industry’s discussions.

Dominique Berson : It is a key element that is all the more necessary in a global textile environment with such a wide variety of practices. It is becoming a real driving force to develop products together. Today, there is a real need to promote and generate interest for the different skills of our value chain. We need to look at those who cut, who saw, who knit, who dye… without them, we simply can’t produce anything.

Léa Marie : As a job, textile requires passion. After the major relocation movement of the 2000s, we now have the opportunity to rebuild this industry, and it has to be done properly !

What does it imply to work in transparency with each-other ?

Léa Marie : It implies getting 40 people around a table to talk about their expectations, their projects and the difficulties they encounter, and to come up with solutions. When we started working with Chantelle, I met teams who know their businesses and their assembly plan by heart, and they gave me access to it. This may sound simple, but asking to see an assembly plan is usually considered intrusive, it’s not something one would do ! Teams were very open-minded and helped us to better understand each manufacturing step, in order to identify which cost we could reduce. This allowed us to pass Chantelle more orders at the end.

Dominique Berson : Obviously, we will never be able to reach the production pace of other regions of the world but we find solutions by working together, towards a better, more competitive, manufacturing organization.

Léa Marie : With Chantelle, we now reached the same service level that we would have in Asia !

Preserving the French know-how is also an important challenge.

Dominique Berson : It’s a battle that we are constantly invested in and that we’re taking very seriously. We need to attract young people to keep the industry going. I learnt my job at school, through a technical certification degree that has enabled me to speak the same language as our manufacturers. We need to keep passing on this knowledge.

This demands a serious commitment from the different industry actors. Are they ready for this ?

Dominique Berson : For Chantelle it goes without saying. We first started as knitters and weavers and it stayed in our DNA when the company moved to manufacture and distribution. Our engagement is reflected in our meticulous working methods that truly respect the craft. We now offer brands the possibility to work with our laboratories to carry out mechanical elasticity or color testings. This vigilance is an asset that fosters commitment, since it contributes to the final quality of the product.

How do you get consumers to join the adventure ?

Léa Marie : Our customers are already committed to Made in France, but they need more. CSR has to be applied globally, as well as recycling and other virtuous practices that consumers pay attention to. If you offer them 40 € underwear with a guaranteed lifespan, it will work. It is all the more important to have a good communication with our partners, right from the manufacturing stage, to better identify possible areas of improvement. Furthermore, the more players agree to join the adventure, and to commit to big production volumes, the lower the prices will get at the end. Eminence recently turned to us for they production and agreed on 50 000 pieces. It worked, they sold it all in three weeks.

Dominique Berson
: We now need to develop the right tools to be competitive on the export market, which accounts for 60% of Chantelle’s sales. Being able to promote our expertise is an advantage that also leads consumers to accept the right price. We need to find the right balance regarding the world economy, and make our foreign partners understand that the success of Made in France is possible, as long as we agree on being honest and transparent.