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An Interview with Gallego Desportes

Posted on 06 August 2017

Gallego Desportes describes its clothing store in old town, Vannes, France, as having an air of “modernity, where time has no hold.” It is this balance of old, classic inspiration and current design that its founders, Fabien Desportes and Virginie Gallego, have aimed to strike since founding the label in 1993. Partially inspired by old clothing and work uniforms, the duo creates collections that are timeless, comfortable, and elegant. Although the brand has grown to sell internationally, namely in the UK, US, and Japan, Gallego Desportes roots itself in what Virginie describes as “sympathetic” manufacturing. A close relationship with their suppliers, factory employees, and customers is essential; their production studio is a space in which they “talk, draw, fold, and drink tea” with one another. Virginia Gallego spoke with Verdalina to elaborate on their sustainable practices and why people are at the heart of what they do.

 

How is your brand sustainable? 

Fabien Desportes and I, Virginie Gallego, are doing fashion collections since 1993, just after the fashion studies. We were 21 & 23, unconscious, dreamers. And still here now. 

Where and how are your clothes manufactured? 

We produce all in France, at 2 hours by car from our studio. So, in Brittany and Pays de la Loire (near the beautiful castles…).

To create a new collection, we talk more than draw. We talk about paintings, photographs, gardens, … We look for proportions, for color shades, for balance. After this ideas melting-pot, we draw just a few. And Fabien starts the patterns. Then, I always say ‘ Add fabrics, add fabrics…’ We want the textile moving.

Who makes your clothes? Are there any groups of people you focus on when it comes to providing fair working conditions? 

The factories who realize the manufacturing are traditional ones. Some of them exist for more than 50 years. Of course, many ladies work in those factories. But step by step, a new generation is coming and boys also.

The working conditions are very important for us. We need to have a transparent relationship with the manager of the factory, to share same rules, to be sure people is the heart of the subject.

Fabien is visiting factories twice a week. Each employee knows him, they know Mr Desportes, which is more than a brand. So, they all work for Mr Desportes, and not for a company. Fabien, of course, greets each one. Usually, the ordering persons don’t go to factories so often. Only once per season, or never. We think it’s more human.

To show how important they are for us, we have asked them to produce shirts, in white poplin, that were in fact for themselves. And we have offered 1 shirt to each sewing person. Then, they can wear and feel what we create, what they produce. We all were crying.

Is there any other information that shows how your brand goes above and beyond to be sustainable? 

Our requirements specification is sympathy. Only sympathy. We work with sympathetic people. Our suppliers are all sympathetic (not friends, it’s different). We have cancelled the others. Our customers are all sympathetic. We can’t work with someone we don’t feel well. It’s very childish, but it’s our way we assume. In a life day, work has the main place, insofar as this is possible to do in the best conditions. Perhaps is it the reason why we work so long time with our partners. I enjoy thinking it’s a kind a club, members maybe not know each others. Deborah [of Verdalina] is one of those, with my deep pleasure.

 

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