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Why the armband is the accessory we all need

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Since Trump found the door to the Oval Office (still his staffers are looking for the light switches), the contestation and resistance has taken different forms. American marchers have shown the world the A-game of how to write a protest sign. Twitter is churning out memes after memes.

But it’s hard to keep the conversation and the action on everyday. Most of us have jobs and families to attend to. But we should not forget this is a new world that needs fixing. Most of progressives have taken the responsibility of supporting more directly causes and organizations. I have personally stopped drinking as a daily reminder (yes I used to drink that often)that we need to “stay woke” on the dramatic issues at hand.

So what more can we do to keep the activism alive, without betraying the essence of it — just like the tone-deaf failure of the “safety pin” trend?

Last night, the Grammys was a good time for pop artists to express their own disagreements with the new world order. Among them, one detail caught my eye: Katy Perry’s armband which said “PERSIST”, referencing maybe Sen. Warren’s persistence in opposing Jeff Sessions nomination even after the Republicans tried to silence her.

The armband was an interesting choice of style, probably made necessary as the formal costume Perry was wearing did not really allow for a tee-shirt with a message, which common people would use to humoristic or political ends alike. No, the performer of “Teenage Dream” contrasted her dressed-up tuxedo jacket with a street-inspired armband.

Street Style Look captured during Paris Fashion Week (source:

As the climate is becoming more and more political, entertainment and fashion, traditionally considered trivial and superficial industries are challenged to produce more relevant outcomes. In my opinion, the armband could be the strong shift in street fashion that we’ve all been waiting for. Of course, it will also take a few A-list designers to make the headlines with “political runway shows” — but we have all witnessed the vacuity of Lagerfeld’s grand “socially inspired” shows for Chanel or Raf Simons’ limited empathy for the world’s issues.

424 Brand Look (source: Hypebeast)

In the meantime, one cult streetwear brand has made a signature of the armband: a striking red cotton band laced around a distressed denim jacket, almost redefining the workwear ethics and history behind denim brands such as Levi’s. The jacket has even made it into celebrity columns, when spotted on the back of who-else-than Kylie Jenner.

Ironically, another scene of social unrest is making the case for the armband as the most 2017 accessory of 2017. Near Paris, the city of Bobigny is currently “under siege”, as protesters have taken to the streets to voice their revolt against the police — officers of which force are being investigated for butt-raping an innocent citizen during a routine control. In this live recording of the events, we can see the suburban kids wearing classic sportswear (and quite a choice of iconic sneakers) facing off with police forces in riot gear and… “POLICE” armbands.

Since the physical confrontation of marchers and police forces is an echo to more symbolic and ideological combats, the armband is on the edge of becoming the signature accessory of our times.

So, what will be inscribed on yours?


A worldwide tour of styles that Jules Verne would have loved

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Letting go.


Two words that read like a welcome combination in response to an excess of pressure. Two words that are almost militant in these hyper-connected days. This is the impression that Marcela Makarova and her companion Philippe-Henry offer us in their travelling exhibition (and soon to be book) Around the World in 80 Styles. The idea? Navigate across continents in search of new styles, but also to tell the stories belonging to the many people they met. This interview with Marcela and Philippe-Henry took place at a rest stop between two destinations. We talked about photography, travel, and modern narratives…

“Street-style” sounds like a hackneyed discipline, especially given the glut of content available online and the circus of the hundreds of different Fashion Weeks. And yet, in your world tour, every style is striking. Is this more of an ethnographic study than a work about fashion?
Of course, our approach focuses on travel and discovery, so our editorial angle is very open in terms of the styles that we want to capture. Our only criteria was that the person’s style must call out to us, whether it is eccentric, traditional or fashionable. The originality of our photos also comes from our desire to capture both the person and the setting where we found them. To do this, we chose a wide-angle lens, allowing us to have the background and the person in the foreground both in focus. Each photograph is thus both a portrait – an encounter – and an invitation to travel, given the environment and the context.

What were the criteria to keep the best portraits?

It depended on each part of our project. During the trip, we were writing columns for a couple of web magazines and the choice of pictures was quite large in order to illustrate our impressions of each country. From one photo to another, a journey would unfold in front of the readers’ eyes.

In the book, the series takes on its full meaning; the portraits resonate with each other and allow for a glimpse of the world through clothing style.

Finally, for the exhibition, we privileged the photos that were the most striking visually.


You show that there is still room for original stories. What advice would you give aspiring photographers?

I’m not sure that we are legitimate enough to give advice. We wanted to have a project to complete throughout our trip, but in conditions that suited us. And we wanted it to remain fun. Telling a trip, or rather having people travel through portraits, or photos, seemed like an interesting and feasible idea.


Does working as a couple bring a different perspective to the photographs you take?

For us, working as a duo was essential from the earliest stages of the project. When we’re shooting, it allows for a second opinion, and thus helps us avoid certain errors related to the urgency of shooting on the street. It also allowed us to divide up tasks: one of us was taking photos while the other was asking questions and taking notes, leaving us the opportunity to create a link and make real encounters. For everything else, working together also provides two complementary perspectives, and therefore inevitably enriches the content and result.


When are you hitting the road again ?
Every time we travel, we naturally continue to make portraits. However, right now, we are focussing on our exhibitions in France and putting a book together. We’re also already working on some new ideas… to be continued.


A Selective Attention Test With The Free Help Guy

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Before reading the interview, do this test. Do it. Seriously.

How did you get on? Did you get it right?

This illustration of our selective attention (originally developed by Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris) represents an interesting psychology and an almost unnerving duping of the brain.

In this video, The Free Help Guy created a version a bit bolder, a bit deeper. And it’s true: busy we are, busy we claim to be. Whereas very important people and topics are around us, we might lose ourselves in the daily bread.

We had the chance to interview T., the man behind The Free Help Guy, a very interesting platform, connecting free helpers. In a world where we don’t talk much to our neighbours, there might be a need to re-shape social links…

Many experts talk about the fact that attention economy is the new playground for humans; time should be more valuable than money itself. Do you think that basic reactions like empathy, trust, caring, are dismantled by the noise which tries to grab our mind?

I think you’re right. Attention economics looks at our attention as a scarce resource which is exactly what it is, increasingly so, in modern society. As with anything scarce, its value is increasing but I fear we’re most likely to spend this attention on short term gain and instant gratification, whether it be box sets or booze. Empathy, trust development and the act of caring for one another is not a short term game and it’s rarely instantly gratifying, so they’re demoted down our attentive ‘to do’ lists. The aim of our film is to challenge this. To suggest to the viewer that our attention selection can be duped and that there’s often a cost to this – in our case the cost of ignoring the issue of suicide in the UK.

Suicide is a social issue; it’s not that easy to properly identify when someone’s about to commit it. What should we do in order to help, or at least be more vigilant?

Each case of suicide is as individual and unique as one person is from another. But as a foundation to it all, we have to be more aware of the problem and consequently much more open, accepting and pragmatic about its many influencing factors. I think this starts with the everyday person. I’ve heard too many people say whilst shrugging their shoulders that it’s an ‘irrational act’, yet I’ve heard from people who have described the most detailed, measured and rational means by which loved ones have taken their lives. Assuming it’s irrational is a way for that person to shirk their potential to empathize and understand and without this there’s no openness, accepting or pragmatism. If society as a whole started paying attention then there’d be a greater likelihood of people considering committing suicide coming forward and seeking help before they do.

This initiative is part of a more global goal for the Free Help Guy: could you describe your purpose?

I have a hunch that traditional social enterprise and charity work the wrong way round. Organisations develop solutions and then find beneficiaries for them. They but be right and it’s certainly a more obviously scalable approach but the cost is that each issue is dehumanized. I want to explore the alternative, which is taking one person and their problem (or request for help) and creating something that works for them but hopefully helps more in the process at the very least through informing and inspiring a wider audience through documenting each instance of helping. Whether you’re me, a collaborator or simply just a reader of my blog, there’s a real person with a real problem to engage you with each issue and I think this is powerful. Either way, my goal is to do all I can for those who approach me needing help whilst mobilising others to do good in the process – and doing this anonymously!

What can we wish you?

Collaboration. This is what I wish! Individuals, agencies, charities, whoever you are, if you believe in doing good differently then I’d love to hear from you.

To know more how you can help, go visit the dedicated page.


The art of shoe shining by Steven D.R Skippen

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It had been a while since I didn’t have a breakthrough momentum in London. Not that the place is not energetic anymore, but things tend to sometimes look a bit the same…
And there came Steven D.R Skippen, Founder and Shoe Artisan at Shoeshine UK that I met at Monsieur London.  I had never experienced such a sensation on my feet, through my shoes; I had only used automatic machines in some hotels here and there. Then I understood what bespoke and talent mean. With his own hands, Steven knows how to transform your shoes into YOUR shoes.
We can make a bet: if I were a brand collection director, I would directly hire Steven to create a capsule collection.
Hi Steven: when did you star shining shoes?
I started shining shoes over 14 years ago I literally fell into it as a stop gap but to this day am still shining shoes. For 13 years my big red chair has been installed in the lobby of The London Hilton on Park Lane, my hands have had the opportunity to dwell on the shoes of the Sultan of Brunei, The Dalai Lama, Mike Tyson, the King of Jordan, Jean Claude Van Damme and the great football star, George Best.
I started Shoeshine UK in October 2000“originally at The London Hilton Metropole but quickly transferred to The London Hilton on Park Lane. I brought a style of shoe care that the UK had never seen before and have cared for many icon’s shoes”.
Using just our bare hands and the best products available regardless of cost we are revolutionising the industry and need people to understand the difference in what we do to others.
It requires very strong skills as you have a pretty unique approach: you use your own hands. How did you learn?
I only received one weeks training as to do what I now can achieve takes years of trial and error. I have perfected The Art of Shine and patina (colouring of leather with dyes) in effect never accepting that I can never improve and always striving for perfection.
I do all my work with my bare hands a skill not seen in Europe and achieve far superior results because of this.
Shoeshining is an amazing bespoke service: can we “book” you for special events?
Yes I do many private events my past CV includes Tommy Hilfiger, Esquire magazine, Browns fashion and Monsieur London. As you can imagine we are a very sought after service due to how unique we are.
What are your favourite products for shoeshining?
I only use the finest ingredients Saphir and Angelus products renowned as unbeatable in our profession. It begins by feeding the leather with three different creams a combination of Beeswax, mink oil from Saphir, Lord Sheraton leather balsam and Ultra Creme, then a leather massage, followed by applying a multitude of colours at each location of the shoe; this can darken and lighten at will to emphasize the slenderness of the foot.

Brushes to me have no effect. If you applied cream to your face would you use a brush? I like to penetrate the leather with my bare hands giving care and a deep shine at the same time”. Believe what you see not what you read, redefining a dying artform.

before / after colourization work
I know you have dozens of projects: when will we see your own range of products? :)
You are right my projects are endless. Establishing my patina service is paramount and trying to make people understand that not all shoeshiners are the same.
Regarding a product range this is just around the corner and has taken a long time due to getting it perfect.
What can we wish you?
Why use a service that gives you a result that you could get yourself at home when you could use a service that would change your perception of shoeshine forever?  The public are not aware of the differences and this is why shoeshine is sadly at the lowest point it has ever been. Its time people saw what shoeshine really could be like”.


Steven D.R. Skippen in brief:


Years in profession -14 years


Favourite shoe company – Berluti, Santoni, Gaziano Girling, Giacopelli, Pierre Corthay, Stefanobi, Septieme Largeur, Edward Green, JM Weston, Cleverley, Marc Guyot, Carlos Santos, Aubercy, Emling and Loding
First job in profession – London City Airport in 2000
Favourite products-Saphir, Angelus, La Cordonnerie Anglaise and Lord Sheraton
Greatest inspirations – Dandy Shoecare, Landry Lacour and JM Le Gazel for patina and Stephen Reynolds for shoeshine.
Experience – London City Airport, Bloomberg, Lehman Brothers, KPMG, Harbour Exchange Tower, London Hilton Metropole, The London Hilton on Park Lane, Dunhill, Marks club, George club, The Office group, Whites Club and Goodwood festival.



Steven D.R Skippen
Founder and Shoe Artisan
Shoeshine UK
The Shoe Whisperer

The Feet Project: what feet mean to people

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1 year ago, we started to work with Flavie Trichet Lespagnol and Marion May on a crazy project with the agency. We were having a chit-chat and Chris looked at his feet. And he said: this is our topic.

Everybody has a story with feet; and feet tell a lot of stories about people. Very surprisingly, when it comes to shoes and brands, not so many products are really dedicated to feet. Is it because marketers think they have ugly feet?

We discovered many crazy insights: when you are pregnant, your feet grow. Women walk more than men every day in the world. We are a vast majority to buy shoes that are not at the right size for us.

Flavie and Marion went to Spain, France, travelled the UK; and interviewed a lot of interesting people. Asking questions about our feet was actually a way to talk about deeper topics: love, anxiety, self-esteem. Style as a bone of contention of our humanity; skins as the features of our journeys.

Discover the documentary right now:

Oh and if you’re brave enough, you can submit photos of your feet.

Viva The Feet Project!


London Fashion Week AW14 – Under the Spotlight

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It’s the fashion event that you must pencil into your calendar – of course it’s London Fashion Week. From Somerset House to Kensington Gardens, the streets were filled with fashion bloggers, journalists, socialites and the press who were all fortunate enough to get the first peek at the latest collections – I happened to be one of those lucky few!

On Monday, I set off to the beautiful Somerset House and saw the latest line by M&S who are aiming to bring out the ‘Best of British’. The scene was a simple, minimalist background with a ladder, chair and desk – an unusual set, but it did bring out the best of its 60’s-esque bold coloured swing coats and shift dresses.


I later went to a dim lit, carpeted car park behind Selfridges to see the latest line by Erdem, which was my favourite of the day. Erdem illustrated a mix of contrasting textures such as patent leather on crochet with subdued splashes of gold, grey and scarlet. To put it simply like The Fash Pack have quoted, it was ‘the type of collection that dreams are made of.’  With a revamped version of Heart of Glass by Blondie, the scene was buzzing with an edgy femininity. Simply amazing.


With the spotlights shining on their scraped-back hair, David Koma was the final show of the day. His collection highlighted bold purples and dark greys, with the clothes structured in sharp cuts and finishes. Again, it was a very minimalist, bright lighted scene to emphasise what Koma had to display.

david koma

There is nothing quite like being a part of the camera flashes and loud voices. David Koma and M&S both displayed lovely collections, but the aura was exactly how I imagined a fashion show to be, therefore I wasn’t taken aback. However, Erdem was the stand-out as its unpretentious setting was revamped into an electrifying setting – it was just a shame that it was over so quickly.


Me & You, a private experience with Jehangir Mehta: the intersection of art and dining

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Restaurants and eating moments are experiencing a loud revolution. It seems like people want to go back to basics and understand WHY this fundamental human activity should be sacred, shared, preserved in an always faster world. Me and You, a private experience by Jehangir Mehta, is one of the last initiatives coming from NYC. An exciting project, a sort of creative hub between senses, sharing, discovery and exclusivity. We had a chance to interview Kate Gunning, one of the initiators of the  project. When  yummy meets exclusivity… MeAndYou_LogoTagline


You’ve decided to launch a very interesting restaurant…can you tell us more about that?

YES! Chef Mehta has dreamed of having a private kitchen so personal and intimate he can tailor menus to each who dine. Me and You is that dream coming to life. When you dine at Me and You, you dine in Chef Mehta’s private kitchen, and the whole evening is really about the experience as well as the food. Chef will present each course, telling stories about the ingredients, and on occasion, their connection to a memory from his childhood in India.
Chef’s kitchen is in a secret location in the East Village, because we want it to be special, and only seen by those who dine with him, almost like you’re entering the kitchen in his home. The space is really intimate, with 1 big communal table, and an open kitchen so you can really be with the Chef for the whole evening. The vibe is quite warm, dimly lit candle light, exposed brick, records playing, with the scent of fresh flowers from the season and the amazing flavors cooking up in the kitchen. It’s all about shared experiences in Chef’s kitchen, as he believes eating is for sharing and creating memories.
We have a few options for dining in Chef’s kitchen. First, you can book the space for a private experience for up to 14 people. When you do, you’ll be sent a survey to fill in for your group, with about 10 questions regarding your preferences for flavors, texture, wine, etc. Chef uses the survey responses to create a tailored menu just for your event.
Second, Chef will open his kitchen for dinners in which he creates the menu, and opens the table up to the first 14 guests who make a booking. For this menu, he’ll feature flavors of the season, the latest wines on his preferred list. It’s a nice chance for Chef to get creative, and open his kitchen to anyone who wants to join.
Finally, Chef is passionate about the intersection of art and dining and will host collaboration dinners every month featuring other chefs, artists, writers, designers, the like. This will be a fun forum for Chef to collaborate with another like minded talent, as well as to offer an opportunity for our guests to dine with the chef and artist of the night – to get to know them, view their art, or discuss their book, whatever it may be.
On this note, at launch we are featuring art from one of Warhol’s Academy of Art students, Gaetanne Lavoie. She’s amazingly talented, and we are glad to be able to feature her art on our walls, and share her story with our guests.
A lot of city boys and girls are looking for alternative experiences: do you see any difference between London & NYC?
It’s funny you mention, as one of the inspirations for this concept is actually the supper clubs that are so prevalent in Paris right now. We love the principle of the supper clubs in Paris that invite you into apartments for great food, an intimate vibe, new people and conversation, and that is much of what we want to create for Chef’s dinners which he opens to the public for booking.
The private dinner experiences we had in London were amazing, as well, the thing is, they were pop ups. What we love about this is that it’s an opportunity to really create a staple in the East Village for the long term, and to allow people to hopefully really connect with the Chef and the space.
How did you meet your chef?
We’ve known Chef for over 4 years. My husband Tim and I met him through a mutual friend in NYC before our move to London. We went to his other restaurant, Graffiti, and literally ordered one of everything on the menu. We were so impressed by the creativity of his food, and then, with his authenticity and passion for sharing his food and his culture and getting to know his guests. We visited Graffiti frequently before we moved to London, and while living in London, and kept in touch that way. A few months ago we joined Chef as guests at an underground dinner club, and then over wine one Sunday following discussed the idea. The rest is history!
What would be the perfect memory you want to create among your new customers?
An experience that taps into all your senses, that’s unique to anything else because it’s not just about the food, its about who you’re with, the space, the Chef, his stories, the music, the thought behind each carefully crafted course, because the menu has been created just for the night. An experience that lasts for hours, sometimes includes entertainment, and maybe even includes Chef baking scones for your breakfast the next day…. passing them to you on your way out into the night……
Where can we follow the project?
Jehangir  on Facebook
Website coming soon! (middle of December)
Kate Gunning will also be blogging: or instagramming @kategunning or tweeting @kategunning
Book a table now at:

Credit photography: Rodney Bedsole


On childhood and fashion with Marie Soudré Richard, CEO from Little Fashion Gallery

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Little Fashion Gallery (LFG) has just released a capsule collection with colette. LFG is the very first online concept store for kids; media and analysts talk a lot about the “new fathers”, female power, very deep changes in the way parents and children connect and live. We wanted to interview LFG CEO and get her views on fashion and childhood.

We recently wrote a post mentioning that kids aren’t fashion accessories.Where’s the right balance between teaching fashion and protecting children?

Funny enough, this question comes very often…and it’s very personal. We should ask it to every parent, individually!

I think that now, it’s all about a “family style” – frontiers between the world of children and of the parents are collapsing: you just have to look at apartments or houses; playrooms are in the kitchen, beautiful toys are sorted in the living room – kids’ rooms are no longer a taboo, disconnected space but deeply integrated to the style of other rooms. We do brunch all together, we go to museums, we share with our daughters and sons a sense of aesthetics and we teach them taste: cooking, fashion, design, literature…We even tell them about politics!

Parents tend to dress their kids a bit like they do – it might seem futile for some people, it’s very important for others and it’s a good news if it generates a certain delight. There’s one limit to my mind: we shouldn’t disguise kids as mini-adults with clothes that are not comfy or even worse, which shape blurry lines with sexuality. A kid remains a kid and must feel good in his clothes, and like them. It’s probably the best way to improve his self-confidence.

You talk about an “attitude” around 3 pillars: cool, fashion and freedom. What’s the perfect style for Little Fashion Gallery?

For boys: a sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers. For girls: a duffel dress or a sweatshirt with a tulle skirt like a princess, with big tights and sneakers to run as fast as boys! I’m a fan of minimalism: simple but with a big effect.

The capsule collection with colette provides clothes to adults that are initially designed for kids. But we don’t feel a regressive movement thus. Positive elements of childhood in fashion: how do they look like in fashion?

We wanted (with Sarah) to make our clothes grow because we wanted them for us! During one of our meetings at Water Bar, a young guy, very colette (then über cool), asked us if products were already available because he really wanted to get them. Et voilà!

People love our cloud, our symbol; adults specially like it when it’s printed all over. I’m not surprised: it’s been based on Murakami; I came back from Japan with one of his drawings done with a marker pen; it was the basis for the logo; we always try to mix adult influences and childish ones. I asked it to my son: he’s pretty happy to wear some clothes with a logo that tells a story, and which has been influenced by one of the most famous contemporary artists!

I think that using codes of childhood is a good thing these days. That’s what I need to day. :)


The end of gender in fashion? JW Anderson, Levi’s, TOPMAN…

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This is no longer a weak trend: men and women’s wardrobes tend to merge. It’s no longer about being boyish or androgynous: it’s about reinventing the whole approach to style.


oh crepe H&M T-shirt, picked from women stage…

Once upon a time, our male revenge against boyfriend jeans

In 2011, Levi’s launched a collection called “Ex Girlfriend Jeans“. What seemed to be a funny fashion trick seems to become a sort of norm. Super skinny jeans are no longer made for hipsters or punk. Yesterday, we’ve talked about TOPMAN and their very own “Spray On Denim“; they communicate on the fact that you can wear the range of denims at the office…not in Brick Lane.

TOPMAN, Spray on Denim

Imagining a shared wardrobe, not just copying women

But the real next step can be summarized thanks to LVMH new protege, Jonathan Anderson (J.W Anderson) as his main motto is to suggest this shared wardrobe

‘’I like idea of a shared wardrobe when garments don’t really have a sex. It’s about what a garment means to a person”Jonathan Anderson

The designer opens a brand new world, which aims to rethink the way we consider bodies. A perfect match with structural elements:

– urban apartments tend to be smaller and smaller, at least for young people: promiscuity of inhabitants lead to a fusion between what is male and female

– we’re tired of sexy as it used to be in the 80s (we won’t talk again about Miley Cyrus or Carine Roitfeld…but you get the point!); as porn culture is now mainstream, we want to reinvent femininity and masculinity. Hiding genders in unisex or shared clothes is a way to focus on attitudes and ideas instead of flesh.

An exciting time for the new human beings…



Collaboration with Bershka and FAGUO shoes: back to school with ethics and education my friends!

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Fashion is changing. London Fashion Week and #NYFW demonstrated – again – the rising importance of highstreet and e-commerce brands.
A sort of back to basics: what should I wear? What’s the impact of my consumption? How to mix ideas and clothes?
Highstreet brands (we consider ASOS as a virtual highstreet brand at the end…) influence big names: we see a sort of democratization of fashion, which meets a sort of fuss for ethics.

The new “Made in Italy” collection by Bershka is pretty surprising: shapes are tailor-made. Quality is here. The brand teaches us why we should love certain types of designs. In the meantime, we’ve met FAGUO. And we caught their insights on this new fashion…

Faguo has just released a new capsule collection with agnès b. and in the meantime you’ve been selected by Unibail-Rodamco for their Grand Prix: does ethical fashion become the new normal?
I think that before talking about ethics, big brands like agnès b. or Unibail are looking for dynamics. These vibes come when they partner with young brands, which generate some buzz. It’s a way for brands like us to uplift thanks to their maturity and their experience. Ethics probably influences them, but it’s more a standard that we apply to our ourselves.
How can we teach consumers to buy “better”?
Through a certain soft power. We’re not Green ayatollahs. We’re just trying to rise awareness for our consumer. When he buys some FAGUO shoes, he plants a tree (he can get more information on our digital map), and he knows our carbon footprint.
This emergency for a more responsible world, is it something that is really shared worldwide?
Responsibility is a key word for our generation. It’s global, even if we don’t use the same triggers. We’ve written this goal in our brand DNA. Every morning we ask ourselves: how to change and how to make the world a better place?


Parka Bershka

Jacket Bershka

Shoes Faguo

T-shirt vintage

Denim (flee market)

Photos by Thien Nguyen.