interview la draft /// lejournaldebord.fr

I met AB, Smith and Ousmane via Danesh their PR. I went to their first Pop Up end of January 2018 which took place Passage Choiseul in the 2nd arrondissement in Paris. I wasn't really familiar with the upcycling concept so what better opportunity to learn more about it through the work of La Draft who just launched their second collection. I took the chance to spend the afternoon with them, taking pictures of their installation and discuss with the protagonists about their common passion for clothes, aspirations and message to raise consciousness by making the promotion of the Slow fashion & upcycling movement.

à Paris : une discussion avec La Draft.

Interview & Photography Farade Nicolas

 


Could you give a little presentation?
Ousmane
: 29 years old, I am an airplane mechanic working for Air France. I grew up in Moissy Cramayel in the 77 where I also studied. Smith comes from the same city, he is a childhood friend of my sister. You remember in the tv show Fresh Prince there is this character called Jazz who is often chilling in their place well, Smith is Jazz!
Smith: 31 years old, I am a jurist. I have a master degree in public business law and international European law. I grew up in different places but I spent a lot of time in Moissy Cramayel when I was a child like Ousmane said.
AB: 30 years old, I grew up in Haute-Savoie. I am an engineer working at the SNCF. I left home very early to join a soccer school. I did scientific studies & got a DUT (technical University degree) in physical measurements. I undertook a trip to New York where I stayed 3 months in order to get a scholarship in soccer. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay there much longer and I had to get back to France. Once there I moved to Paris.
Ousmane: What's funny is that we all have a special link with New York.

How so?
Ousmane
: Well, I met AB in New York in a youth hostel and to tell the truth I thought he was a New Yorker! No, but more seriously, our friendship grew naturally. As I told you, Smith and I know each other since childhood, but we got really close when he came to New York. We ended up there on the same dates, spent most of the trip chilling! It's pretty crazy when I think about it again. So when I was in Paris I introduced Smith to AB and we all started to hang out together...

How did your shared passion for clothing manifest itself, what were your references as you grew up?
Ousmane
: Obviously music. By watching Hip Hop music videos and you try to imitate their way of dressing the way they are acting and such... By the way, I remember that I was the only one listening to N*E*R*D, a group that had rock influences and people around me did not understand why. I had a quirky style, slightly different, I always been open-minded.
Smith: If I had to evoke my sartorial references, to be honest, it was nothing really original except that Hip Hop, American music like a lot of young people played a big part. Not to mention Paris, which is for me the capital of fashion. I am also inspired by sports, Oussman and I share a common passion for basketball, we were influenced by that too.

AB: I admired the style that skaters could have and at the same time the aesthetic from the young people from working-class neighborhoods. What is funny is that a small conflict existed between this two groups which I did not understand because for me their aesthetic are both unique. I used to mix everything. My cousins had pretty cool clothes and I remember that I borrowed some of their things even though it was too big for me!

When and how did you build the project?
AB
: It all began in 2015. We realize that we had too many clothes that we bought, more or less expensive and that we wore them a season or two then put them aside to get new things. I decided to took my own stuff and tailored them.

It was clothes that had defects, that were worn out?
AB: No, it's the cut that I did not like anymore. I started by modifying everything I had because my style was evolving. Everyone around me thought it was cool so it made me think. We had this common bond, we share a similar aesthetic without having the same style you know. Smith was still busy with his studies and Oussman and I were already working. It took time to plan everything.

Basically, you cut off all your clothes.
AB
: Yes something like this, with time I had fun adding more materials, fabrics, changing the collar and so on...

Between the initial idea and the realization of the project, how long did it take you?
AB
: Two years. We launched our website in March 2017 and made our first event in late January 2018 held in Passage Choiseul in Paris. 

How did the idea of calling your project la Draft was born? 
Ousmane
: It started from an expression we had, a friendly one. Like, "If you're badly dressed, you can not join my team." If you are familiar with American sports, Draft is a ceremony in the NBA or NFL where young players are promoted to bigger teams. What made the connection with clothing was simple: when a formal player joins the Draft, they go from shadow to light, like clothes.

AB: We also realized we could do something special when Smith attended the Fashion Revolution week.

What is it?
Smith
: It's a week dedicated to Slow fashion movement. I think this event was created just after the incident that occurred in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013, at Rana Plaza after the collapse of a building. The people from the Slow fashion movement join their strengths to think about better ways to fight against an industry who is very polluting. We thought about the ecological impact of production & process. We needed to develop a way of thinking that goes along with our beliefs. It is important these days to be ecologically and socially awake. 

How do you find the artisans you work with?
Smith
: We are in touch with a few associations. The idea was to get them involved in this project from the beginning.
AB: The contact was easy to make. You do not find this kind of project we started. When we take the time to explain our motivations, our need, people are usually patient and very interested.

Where do you find your fabrics & clothes?
AB
: We are going to a few thrift stores which we are working with. We provide the raw materials and the sketches to the tailors. Between what we have in mind, the sketches and the reality there is often a margin to take into consideration, it is not easy to put our ideas into production. It is a complicated process because you have to completely destroy the piece then build it basically from scratch...
Ousmane: Like a puzzle.

What is the most stimulating step?
AB
: I would say watching the evolution that happened in between the piece we are receiving and the final result.

Who does what?
AB
: I manage the relationship with the tailors and take care of the design aspect. 
Smith: It's important to say that we provide two services. Firstly, we produce our own capsule collection where we are doing researches on products, pieces of clothing that we rebuilt following a seasonal theme. The second service focused on the customer's clothes. They bring their own stuff and once we have them we think about what is really possible to do or not. We always try to do the best we can possibly can to satisfy their needs & wishes.

Could you change any piece of clothing, no matter the material and the quality?
Smith
: Actually, as you mentioned, the material is very important to us, that's the beginning of the process. If we do not have pieces of great quality in our hands it's hard to create something interesting. The fashion trends certainly evolve but the materials barely change.

Let me get that thing straight. If I decide to bring back the trench coat of my grandfather, made in Italy with a merino wool of outstanding quality and I do not like the fit, you'll do an update with a more contemporary silhouette.
Smith
: Exactly, we're giving the clothes an update. The piece that has for you a sentimental value becomes unique by the changes we are operating.

When did you realize that it was important to consume less but better?
AB
: I started making changes in my wardrobe because of my body shape, the meaning is that it was hard for me to find clothes that fit good. It was not practical. At this moment I realized that I just had to do small modifications to the clothes I already had. 

Did you think about making your own brand instead?
AB
: It could be logical to do so, but, take a look around you, every day there are dozens of brands that emerge, I did not have the desire to do like everyone else. To stand out from people you gotta find a real concept. Nowadays it is possible to be fashionable and have an ecological business!

You just launched your second collection, what was the main theme of the first one?
Smith
: It was called "the first choice", always linked to our affection for basketball. The first choices are the players who are selected by professional teams. It was an obvious way to showcase the extent of our work by selecting pieces that meant something to us.

Is there a Draft trademark?
AB
: We make suits, coats, and raincoats. You can also see our signature through small details such as the round necks, the shorter sleeves, and loose/straight fits.

 

How do you choose the people you work with?
AB
: We obviously have to test their skills but I think it is mainly about trust & instinct. It could happen to work with some who have never done the things we ask them to do.

You are giving them challenges to overcome.
AB
: Yes that's right. Most are from the older generation. I think that because we maintain very friendly exchanges with them they want to do everything they can to help us. It makes them happy that young people come to ask for their expertise.
Oussman: In a certain way it's also rewarding for them when we present the project and show our real interest we feel that they are affected by it in a really good way.

How many people do you work with?
AB
: Three tailors. 

What is your customer base, how do you position yourself in the market?
AB
: It's hard to say. I would say around 25 to 85 years old! At first we were only targeting menswear now we are doing unisex clothing. Despite us it attracts way more women because they are consuming more than men. What is interesting with the older people is the quantity of quality garments they own, it's fantastic to experiment with those.

The person must be awake and understand the message you are trying to deliver which may be more difficult for the newest generation to understand...
Smith
: Yes they have to understand that you have to consume less but better.

What are you planning in the months, years to come?
Smith
: Keep growing our capsule collections, develop furthermore stuff. Also by traveling to different parts of the world, we want to look for new clothes to be able to tell other stories. Regarding the service we are offering, we would like to create places in Paris or elsewhere where people can go and Draft their wardrobe.
AB: The idea is that if you have a coat you Draft once, you can Draft it again the next year by adding more stuff.

Is there a particular material you enjoy working at the moment?
AB
: I would say wool.
Smith: Especially when we have the opportunity to work on pieces like coats and sometimes suits.
AB: It happens when we are designing new stuff to be surprised with the final result itself.
 

Is there a particular material you enjoy working at the moment?
AB
: I would say wool.
Smith: Especially when we have the opportunity to work on pieces like coats and sometimes suits.
AB: It happens when we are designing new stuff to be surprised with the final result itself.Smith: It's true that it is a real pleasure to be lucky enough to work on such garments. For example, we had to work Louis Vuitton suit the other day brought by an old man. 

What do you think about Paris, do you see yourself living elsewhere?
Smith
: I always grew up on the outskirts of Paris but I used to come to the city a lot. I have my habits there, I could not really tell you what makes this place so special to me.
Ousmane: We are living in the most beautiful city in the world, look around you, everywhere there is something outstanding to stare, the architecture is amazing, there are plenty things to see and do. The act of traveling also help. When you are getting out your comfort zone it is always rewarding to come home and realize how lucky we are to live here.
AB: I do not come from Paris but if I had to ask myself serious questions like starting a family, I would think twice about it. Nevertheless, I am young, Paris is the shit, I totally enjoy myself there.
Ousmane: I think we all need to be in cities that stimulate us creatively and Paris summarize this perfect entity.

 

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