BRAND NEW – MUST SEE EMERGING BRANDS: THE INTERVIEW – LES IZMOOR
The philosophy of Les Izmoor, an up-and-coming brand founded by Ines Bourgeois, is to reinvent the fashion industry system by overturning the concept of the collection and offering unique pieces that transcend trends and seasons. Each “collection” is composed of a single piece available on a per-order basis and designed to last over time – a concept diametrically opposed to the fast-fashion approach.
THE VERSATILE KNIT is the third piece from Les Izmoor; a versatile knitwear piece that can be worn as an open cardigan, around the waist for a crossover effect with a V-neck, or even backwards.
*In conversation with Ines Bourgeois, founder of Les Izmoor*.
How did the idea for Les Izmoor come about? What is the philosophy behind the brand?
“Les Izmoor was born during the pandemic. Before the covid, I had already started asking myself questions about fashion and sustainability. I wanted to be a more responsible consumer, but I felt lost with all the different sustainability claims that brands were promoting. I did a lot of thinking, I saw all the clothes I wasn’t wearing and I also realised all the waste I had contributed to creating. I told myself that it was really time to make a change. This approach was no longer sustainable, either for me or for the planet. And it was from this realisation that Les Izmoor, LESS IS MORE, was born.
I thought a lot about the identity of my brand: I launched it with the aim of creating a new production model and a new type of clothing and I did it trying to be as responsible and transparent as possible.
Les Izmoor represents the idea of producing less but in a more thoughtful way. Our mission is to create value through a made-to-order model that reduces waste. Everyone should have a way to consume more responsibly and have access to quality pieces at a fair price: for us, fashion should be anything but disposable.”
How do ‘collections’ work? Why the choice to create only one garment per season?
“By choice, we produce a very limited number of models (1 per season, 4 per year) instead of collections. This allows us to make sure we only offer pieces of the highest quality, which can be worn for a long time and on different occasions. All our pieces are versatile – they can be worn in different ways and by different physiques because we only make one size that fits all.
There is so much research work behind each piece in terms of fit, prototyping, material… but we are able to do this because we focus all our attention on one item at a time. In addition, we produce through a pre-order system; this allows us to reduce waste because we only make what is needed, and it also helps us promote more conscious consumption. Our customers are willing to wait until their pieces are ready, because they are aware of and value what they are buying. Basically, the exact opposite of impulse buying!”
How exactly does your system work?
“We launch the prototype and open sales for a limited period of time. At that time, our customers can buy our pieces with a 40% discount. Then, we start producing all the orders, adding an extra 10% to the number of pieces required in case of problems or last-minute orders. When the production is finished (about one month after the pre-orders close), we ship all the items and put the remaining extra stock on our website at full price. Thanks to the pre-order system, we are able to reduce inventory costs and are therefore able to apply discounts and offer luxury garments at fair prices.”
How do you choose your suppliers? Where are the garments made?
“We select our suppliers on the basis of several criteria. The first is that they must be in Italy. We want to support local artisans and reduce our C02 emissions as much as possible. This was also an obvious choice because we want to work with the best artisans to produce pieces of the best possible quality that our customers can keep for generations – and you can’t beat Made in Italy in terms of quality. Our second criterion is related to the practices of our suppliers: they have to be aligned with us in terms of values, respect the environment and their employees. This is something we pay a lot of attention to, and since our suppliers are based in Italy, we can visit them regularly. The final criterion is simply our relationship with them and their reliability.
Since we produce to order, it is essential for us to work with professionals we can trust. It’s true, we’re a small company, but we like to bond with our partners; sometimes we visit them for lunch to catch up on how things are going, even if we’re not necessarily working on a garment for Les Izmoor!
Our suppliers are also often family businesses and it’s amazing to see how they carry on things that their great-grandparents created years ago. Our first two pieces, for example, were produced near Como in a workshop that has been in operation since 1964. But unfortunately they don’t do knitwear, so we had to find another partner for the new ‘collection’. This partner is located in Puglia and has been knitting since 1942. Their know-how is really impressive and it is a real honour to collaborate with them knowing that they work exclusively with the best luxury houses (we are not allowed to say who they are, they are brands that would sell pieces like the ones we produce at prices over a thousand euros).”
Ines, what was your path before founding the brand?
“I have always had a passion for fashion. While studying economics in the UK, I took the opportunity to explore this world that fascinated me so much. I started with an internship and then working in Paris and Milan, where I was able to discover and really understand how the fashion industry works. After a few years, I started to question myself, as some of the industry’s practices did not match my values and I started to feel guilty.
So, I decided to quit my full-time job to re-evaluate a bit what I wanted to do. I started a master’s degree at SDA Bocconi in fashion management. That’s when I first started to consider creating my own reality in the fashion industry.”
Plans for the future? When will the new item come out? Can we have some anticipation?
“We have actually just launched our third piece of clothing! It’s a versatile cardigan and like all our pieces, it can be worn in different ways and fit different body types. This is probably the piece I am most proud of. It is made from the highest quality Merino wool and cashmere. This yarn is, without a doubt, the finest, warmest and softest you can find, and it comes from Linsieme Filati: a company that verifies through constant analysis the compliance protocols required for animal welfare. The knitting technique we’ve used creates a ribbed texture that makes it comfortable yet elegant, perfect for all-day wear. We like to think you can wear it in a variety of ways and use it all the time… from your desk to a date! 😉
Like all our pieces, this item is a limited edition that can only be purchased at pre-order price until 19 December. After that, we will launch our own production and make the pieces based on demand. Production will be finished by the end of January, but while our customers are waiting for their garment to be made, we will send out a special card to be opened on Christmas Day. We will also be updating them, as we usually do, on the production of their piece through our newsletter, so they can feel involved in this exciting process!”
How do you think the fashion industry will evolve in the coming years?
“Fashion is evolving, embracing a more collaborative and conscious mindset. Fashion is always changing. But now more than ever. I think the pandemic was a bit like the straw that broke the camel’s back because it was a moment when all the problems in the industry came to the surface and many brands realised that their production systems were not flexible enough. Consumers also started to change their mindset, adopting a different perspective; they started to prefer valuable pieces, rather than continuously buying cheap clothes. This is having a strong impact on the industry because on the one hand it is an opportunity for young designers and entrepreneurs to change the status quo for the better. On the other hand, big companies have to change their practices and adapt to what consumers are demanding.
When I launched Les Izmoor I was aware that I wasn’t going to change the whole industry; but I believe that if more brands act in the same direction (for example by implementing a made-to-order approach), things can really change! The only way to really implement change is to do it together. Fashion is changing from an individualistic and competitive mindset to a collaborative one – and this is especially true for all the new companies that have emerged since the pandemic. For this reason, I have launched with a partner a consultancy agency dedicated to just that: providing support to create a more conscious fashion system together.”
by Maria Bellotto
9th December, 2021