On May 15, 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, the French designer Marine Serre published a tutorial video to make a mask. Beyond the symbol of the current health crisis it represents, the small protective accessory is emblematic of the post-apocalyptic style of the designer. This timely tutorial thus gains credit and reflects the DNA of a house focused on upcycling, where the production process is as fascinating as the garment itself.
It is also through the video that the label shares the stages of production of its famous up-cycled pieces. Since the spring-summer 2019 collection, the brand has taken care to record the different phases of the manufacturing chain of so-called "Regenerated" items - the designation applies to upcycled clothing and accessories from old stocks of textile products.
The publications on the Paris label's Youtube account present the qualities of ASMR, this fetishistic craze for videos whose exacerbated quality of sound aims to relax the audience. At Marine Serre, the sound of hands digging through plastic bags, steam escaping from the iron and the sound of large, well-paced machines mix with the pleasure of glimpsing the underside of a large house fashion.
To find out more, FashionUnited asked the questions to the author of these videos, Giulia Roman, Upcycling Product Developer at Marine Serre.
You are a developer of upcycling products for Marine Serre. Could you share some of your work with me?
I work for Marine Serre from Italy where I follow the development and production of the “Regenerated” collection and make videos and photography for the campaign.
The way I started working for her is quite unusual. I used to go to the factory where we now produce most of the recycled parts just to observe and learn more about the process. I have a background in design and it was so inspiring for me to discover all the techniques and possibilities. It was a great way to broaden my horizons.
One day, the factory manager received the first prototype of a pretty crazy and very special top from Marine Serre, made from recycled t-shirts. He asked me to help him figure out how to do it. It was a real puzzle. I thought it was incredible! Then everything was done naturally. I met Marine at the show and since then we have been working together.
What did you want to portray through the “Regenerated” videos?
Nothing more than what is being shown.
There is a hypnotic pleasure in watching them, this feeling makes me think of the ASMR video. Was that the goal?
I didn't have a specific goal when I did the first one. It was more for fun and to show the team what was going on behind the scenes and how we were structuring and revolutionizing the cutting and assembly process at the factory while turning all these T-shirts into couture dresses. So, of course, there was no need to embellish the images.
When we decided to create the campaign, we wanted to keep it exactly as it was. The sound of the machine, sharp scissors, Italian voices in the background were an essential part of the whole project.
What feedback do you receive from people who have watched the videos?
Everyone loves them! I did not expect such success. I think what people appreciate most is that everything is real. I think it's a pretty pure way of looking at fashion.
Are you planning to make new videos like this for Marine Serre?
Yes of course!
Could you tell me more about your collaboration with the designer Marine Serre?
The Marine Serre team has grown considerably. We have a structured design, development and production team and I work closely with them.
Regarding clothing, how long does it take to make a garment from the “Regenerated” line?
It depends. The first samples always take longer. It can take three to 15 hours, it also depends on the problems encountered. But when it comes to the production stage, when all the stages are clear, it flows by itself.
How do you go about finding the stock of raw material? Is it a long process?
Yes, it involves a lot of research and there is a large team doing it. (Giulia Roman is not responsible for the supply of raw materials.)
How many people work on the production of an item?
It's a big team effort. One person for cutting, one for preparation, one for sewing, one for all stitch finishing by hand, then quality control, ironing, packaging… A piece of clothing is the result of the work of so many caring hands.
This article was originally published on FashionUnited.FR, translated and edited to English.
Photo credit: Marine Serre Collection, presented at the Hyères Fashion and Photography Festival in 2017 - Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP