Leather, a fatal attraction

Young designers are increasingly attracted to working with leather, and are even launching their own labels.  One such is Emmanuelle Barre, designer for the Ephyre brand, who will be presenting items made in collaboration with some of the show’s exhibitors next February at Première Vision Paris.

 

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You created your own brand in 2014. How did you come to that decision and what was your own journey like?

After training as a designer, I chose to work in ready-to-wear as well as accessories, because I always had a real feel for leather. I love its raw beauty, its “material with a past” dimension… I quickly focused just on accessories, and I launched Ephyre four years ago, while continuing to work for the major fashion houses. I produce premium small leather goods, a line of ten bags for women and, for the past two years, a few men’s items too, because the demand for that is very strong. My collections are sold on my e-shop and in multi-brand stores in France and abroad, in Switzerland and Japan.

A number of young designers are moving into this universe. How do you explain their interest?

It’s mainly due to the craze for accessories in general, which makes designers keen to dive in. Also, a lot of designers think the accessories sector is “easier” than ready-to-wear, which is false. It requires a lot of technical knowledge in terms of assembling, gluing; a total mastery of the industry. On the other hand, the leather sector remains one of the most dynamic, and French leather goods are widely recognised abroad, where they remain a guarantee of quality and creativity. French craftsmanship is still the stuff that dreams are made of…

Do you think of designing accessories as something in itself, or a first step before developing your own ready-to-wear brand?

I want to focus on accessories for the sake of coherency, and because it’s a very rich universe where a lot still remains to be done. I’d like to express myself in other domains, such as hats or jewellery… The metal work that’s part of designing my bags is easily transposable to jewellery. All of this can enrich my collections and really make them stronger and more coherent.

What’s your outlook for the future of this sector?

I’m not worried about the industry’s vitality. On the other hand, I think many questions will doubtlessly arise, in a world where raw materials are growing scarcer. Today, the major fashion houses are already obtaining the very finest skins, it’s quite difficult for small brands to maintain their standards in terms of quality. In addition, environmental respect is critical, and that means we have to be very careful in choosing our collaborators throughout the industry.

You’re also going to be present at an exhibition at the Accessories show?

I’ll be offering to personalise one of my leading designs – the Léon clutch – which was made together with Première Vision exhibitors, including tanners and accessories manufacturers… Many of these items will be exhibited, which really testifies to the richness of these collaborations.

 

> Next February, follow our complete itinerary for designing collections of leather goods, shoes or leather apparel: 300 tanners, 300 accessories manufacturers, a selection of specialized fashion manufacturers and trend highlights for this market in the fashion forum.

> PREMIÈRE VISION LEATHER, Halls 3 & 4.