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Façon Jacmin: Meet the twins making waves in the Belgian fashion world
In a fashion world as crowded as it is confused, young brands can struggle to set themselves apart – but that’s not a problem for Ségolène and Alexandra Jacmin, the enterprising twins behind Brussels label Façon Jacmin.
Since launching their brand with a pop-up in the Châtelain area in early 2016, the duo have made waves with their contemporary women’s wardrobe – almost wholly in denim – and canny sales tactics including a mobile boutique housed in a vintage van.
“From the beginning our commercial strategy has been direct sales, so it’s e-shops, pop-ups and our mobile boutique,” explains Ségolène, the commercial brains of the outfit (Alexandra, a graduate of La Cambre in Brussels, takes care of design). In part this is to keep prices reasonable – jeans sell for around €140, jackets for around €250 – but it’s also about breaking down barriers. “Sometimes I get the impression that there’s little innovation in fashion,” says Ségolène. “Nobody dares to change, as they’re used to doing things as they’ve always been – selling in shops and at fairs.”
The desire to do things differently was one of the key starting points for the brand, which was instigated by Ségolène, a civil engineering graduate who had developed an interest in fashion while refining designers’ business plans. Her sister, who had meanwhile done stints at Paris labels Maison Margiela and Jean-Paul Gaultier, took a year to come around to the idea of clubbing together – before presenting her sister with a fully formed vision for an all-denim brand.
“She’s always been really attracted to denim because it’s worn by everybody, and it’s also one of the only fabrics that gets more beautiful with age,” explains Ségolène. While denim – and even double denim – is a fashion staple, it’s usually reserved for jeans and jackets; Façon Jacmin apply it to skirts, dresses, cropped trench coats and even natty reversible kimonos.
And unlike the prevailing faded denim look, their chic garments come in white or intense indigo – the result of using premium Japanese denim, loved for its tight weave and use of natural indigo (rather than synthetic) dyes.
Like an increasing number of other young brands, the label eschews the seasons for a more episodic offering. “If you go to our e-shop you have new arrivals and then timeless basics that are always there,” explains Ségolène (the jumpsuit and trench coat are bestsellers).
“We don’t work with two annual collections, but launch capsule collections three or four times a year.” Currently there are around 30 models, of which 15 are basics; production, which takes place at a Bulgarian factory used by haute couture French houses Chloë and Balmain, has jumped three-fold in just over a year.
Since the early days the twins’ main canvas has been their mobile boutique – a chic retro number in a fetching shade of beige. Two Sundays a month it pulls up at Brussels’ Place Saint-Catherine, and two Saturdays a month opposite Antwerp’s MoMu fashion museum.
Inside customers find a handsome space with a mirror and fitting room, as well as the whole stock in various sizes. “When we started the mobile boutique it was a marketing tool but I was surprised that it actually sold better than a shop,” says Ségolène. “People don’t need to open the door and dare to come inside. They see the clothes directly and speak to me directly, which is great.”
It’s an old-school approach that chimes with the brand’s ethos, she adds. “Façonnier was the word for a person who made clothes and also sold them directly to clients. We want to get back to the essential with our fabrics, and our contact with people. It’s great to be able to take the time, rather than just focusing on sales. Of course we would need to have a second van to grow, and our purpose is to be financially prudent, so it’s not the only channel. We also have the pop-ups and e-shop.”
In addition to opening a showroom in Brussels in September, next up: take the van on tour and expand from their current markets – Brussels and Antwerp – to Alexandra’s home town, Paris, where they’ll launch their next capsule collection.
“We’re quite careful in the way we want to develop, but on the other hand we want to go to Japan, and we’ve had interest from a distributor there,” reveals Ségolène. Their sales model will develop, but not too fast: “We really want to keep the quality, take our time to think about this and do it well.”
This article first appeared in WAB (Wallonia and Brussels) magazine