« I currently live in a very small community, where only a handful of individuals are really close to me. I don’t want to be famous or renowned, not even in Montreal. I want those closest to me to be proud, to acknowledge my work. »
Everything Anaïs Trocherie says is well thought and meaningful. Humble beyond words, she timidly lets people into her own intimate relationship with clothing and shares ideals of a more humane fashion industry. Here’s a quick Q&A with a modest person evolving in an industry that usually isn’t.
Baron: How did you get where you are today?
Anaïs Trocherie: I’ve sort of walked on two different paths in life: I’ve gone through a traditional learning process (weaving and embroidery) in France and I’ve done my B.A. here, in Montreal. The first thing I wanted to do once I arrived in Montreal was to make some contacts. I ended up working as a dressmaker for Denis Gagnon, as a jeweler for La Raffinerie, as a dresser on some fashion shows and as an intern at atelier b. Nowadays, I’m an assistant designer at atelier b. and that sums it up.
B.: You’re not planning to start freelancing as a designer?
A. T.: No, I like working for others. The girls at atelier b. and I share a common vision, a similar reflection on how we would like to reshape the industry. I think they’re breathing new life into a fashion industry that needs new values.
B.: And what are those values?
A. T.: Refrain from approaching clothing as a trend. Dress people because we chose, as a society, to dress ourselves. Of course, atelier b. still produces yearly collections and spends roughly six months producing them. Nonetheless, every single garment is created with fabric and detail in mind, not on the moment’s fashion fad. Clothing then evolves depending on customers’ advice and comments. The girls at atelier b. aren’t trying to follow trends and intently make quality clothing that will last longer. They welcomed me as if I were family and treat people with honesty, as equals. This is when I realized the fashion industry wasn’t just about tantrums, breakdowns and hypocrisy.
B.: Why do you like working for others more than being self-employed?
A. T.: I know myself well enough to say this, I guess, but I’m good at organizing and structuring work for others. I’m really devoted and I like sharing experiences with others. I also know that I’m pretty bad with numbers and I get really depressed when I have to deal with money. So, when it comes to work, I’m well aware of my strengths and weaknesses.
B.: What challenges did you juggle with while creating Le Vestiaire?
A. T.: Simply put: make, for the first time in my life, clothing. Before that, I was coming up with garments for my portfolio and they didn’t have to be put to the test. These were more concepts than clothes. I’ve been dressmaking since I’m 20 and I’ve always loved it! But I lacked patience and my grandmother always had to put the finishing touch to my projects. This might be why I wanted to make simple clothes, while working on Le Vestiaire. Whatever people say about it, I’m really content with what I’ve done.
B.: What were your inspirations for Le Vestiaire?
A. T.: Montreal, Mile End, 1920. I created as I fell in love with my day-to-day discoveries. I could recite the conceptual description they made us write in class, but, to be honest, I wanted my collection to be a tribute to the people I met and here, in Montreal.
B.: While working at atelier b., you got to know the local fashion industry. What are your views on the Montreal fashion designers’ reality?
A. T.: As a matter of fact, we’re lucky to have a clientele that’s sensible to local design. I think there are too few local industries to answer to a demand that’s been consistently rising for the past five years. The fashion industry, along with society, is undergoing some changes.
It might be a good idea to start working together, as a community. Montreal is filled with talented and interesting people who are on their own. It’s about time individualism took a hike. It would be easier to work and collaborate on the community scale.
B.: What’s stopping us? What issues are we facing?
A. T.: I’m currently thinking about a new fashion system; one that’s personalized and that can be recycled. This could be a start. I believe we’re overdoing it, when it comes to fashion. We should get back to the basics and see clothes as a means to dress oneself, end of the line.
Le Vestiaire can be used that way. I’ve talked with people who like what they saw. Yet, these clothes are like templates. You like a certain shirt but you’d want it in a particular African fabric? All right! I’ll customize it to your liking, then. That’s what I’m passionate about. You pay for the materials and I’ll lend you my talent. I want to make clothing that way, even if I know it can’t be made to work as a large-scale business.
B.: But if you want to bring some change, isn’t it better to start small?
A. T.: You’re preaching to the choir! On a smaller scale, it’s definitely simpler to manage and satisfy a small group of individuals through another little staff team. In the end, finding a niche market can help. If you make a mistake or a bad decision, the world isn’t going to go to waste. The way clothes were produced in China made such a mess of things, since the whole planet ended up desiring to do things the same way. Shouldn’t we learn from that? Montreal is like a small intelligent heart, while New York is a big intelligent mess. Montreal’s been well thought out right from the start. It’s well built and it works just fine that way. That’s probably why they say it’s so simple to live here. This is why I think Montrealers can be good at handling small-scale businesses. There is a lot to gain by doing so.
Discover Anaïs Trocherie’s Le Vestiaire on April 29th, as part of the collective fashion show of UQÀM’s Fashion management – design and styling graduates, at the university’s Design Center’s gallery.