Nowadays, fashion market and clients are more aware about the fact of using ecological or recycled materials to produce their clothes and accessories. One example is the American brand called Lucille & Charles. They offer “cruelty-free accessories” and recycled cashmere collections.
Lucille & Charles make products respecting animal welfare and the environment. They prioritise recycled fibers and always work with “non-animal” materials. This brand use materials like cork, organic fabrics derived from eco-agriculture. They monitor the source of the materials that they use and how they are made (location, labour conditions, etc). Their designs have always a touch of contemporary times and modernity. Last week, we had the occasion to talk with the team of this brand.
Betangible: What is the philosophy of Lucille & Charles?
Jean: First of all, L&C is the bee symbol. The honey bee is in danger of extinction. As you know, its preservation is essential to life on Earth, and the situation is worrying. We are inspired and guided by nature and ecology. I’m passionate about wildlife and animals, especially my horses. L&C philosophy is an absolute respect for the environment, animals protection, craftspeople, and therefore the customer. We are not trying to flatter the consumer’s ego just like a huge majority of brands. We offer an honest and progressive option, a sustainable brand that everyone can join. Of course, we will grow and develop our business, but not at any price. We want people to know that good choices contribute significantly to a better world.
Betangible: Tell us about the bee…
Jean: Our bee is much more than a logo. Our collaboration with the “Elephants and Bees” project in Kenya is the cornerstone of the brand. This organization provides bee hives to farmers. Thanks to these bee colonies, elephants are naturally moved away from farmers crops. They no longer innocently destroy these crops and are not unjustly killed by poachers. Farmers improve their living conditions and produce honey. It’s based on mutual benefit, everybody wins. It is a great environmental and social project. Part of our profits help finance the project. The first L&C advertising campaign will be pictured in Kenya with them. Our “bee” logo defines the brand as a whole, from our collections to this beautiful collaboration. An L&C bag is much more than a fashion accessory!
Why do you choose Ubrique to produce your accessories?
Sébastien: I have a close relationship with Ubrique. First, it is a typical white village nestled in a beautiful southern Spain landscape, whose mountains remain inland California. People from Ubrique are very kind. I am a French designer but I have been living for 14 years in Andalusia. I know some very talented craftspeople in Ubrique. They provide the world’s most prestigious luxury brands. When I met Jean and his wife who live in the US and have a vacation home in south of Spain, I immediately proposed to make our bags here. I had total confidence in Ubrique’s know-how. I met Pepe Montiel a few years ago. I knew he was able to adapt the best leather crafts to a 100% cruelty-free product. Betangible did a very good job. They took up the challenge.
Betangible: What do you think is the difference from other fashion brands?
Sébastien: Less marketing, more sincerity. Under the gloss of newness, many brands live in the past and do not show behind the scenes. L&C talks about the present and the future, which are much more important than the past. L&C is the descendant of a prestigious American luxury brand of the 30s, formerly specialized in exotic skins (Lucille de Paris). Like it or not, we made an unconventional choice. We chose to ignore our past and change everything… including the name of the brand. Jean and I are not of those who make things like the others. We had to wipe the slate clean and concentrate on this question: What would Lucille and Charles have done in 2019, in such a different world? What materials would they have worked on? Let the animals live in peace. They are much more beautiful in their natural surroundings than killed and cut up for a handbag.
Betangible: What types of materials do you like to use in your collections to follow with the philosophy of Lucille & Charles?
Sébastien: In our first collection, we used cork but not just any cork! Jean and I brainstormed a lot and investigated other brands of cork bags. We did not want to look like most of them which do not really highlight the softness and sensuality of this material. We selected very sophisticated textures and cork finishes. The best manufacturers and crafts were needed for L&C. As a result, our cruelty-free bags have nothing to envy to the traditional high end leather goods. Cork has become a classic in “vegan” fashion, but there are other plant options under development … and we will use them in the same way. Every detail is important. For instance, all our bags are lined in recycled cotton, printed with a “bee” monogram. We control the environmental impact of each raw material. We are also creating a 100% recycled cashmere collection with an Italian manufacturer. Plant and recycling are the future.
Betangible: Do you think that ecological brands are just a trend? Or Should they become a movement?; something that every fashion company has to consider?
Jean: If green fashion was just a trend, it would not be much more credible than traditional fashion. Let’s be clear … we are not against the trends! Sébastien worked for big names in the luxury industry and a trend forecasting agency. He knows how fashion works. L&C is situated among a general movement against fast-fashion. Fast-fashion destroys the environment and takes consumers for idiots… And we are not just talking about mass-market. It’s a global system. We can not ignore the ecological ravages of this industry. Being a sustainable brand is not about austerity. It’s a matter of intelligence and openness. In the past, fashion has adapted to major sociological changes, sometimes anticipating them. Today, the biggest challenge of fashion is to drastically reduce its impact on the environment, to go along with the times. The way a product is made is as important as its style. It’s a deep change. Let’s talk about a movement.