Hermes. Dyson.  Missoni. Ferragamo. Generations of successful, family-owned and run businesses have shown how effective the 'ties that bond' can be in converting loyal customers. That generation-honed skills have been passed down to create the extraordinary is something to be celebrated. Maison Cléo, the French label made famous through Instagram and its most fashionable influencers (from Leandra Medine to the Blutstein twins), took a page out of the dynasty handbook and plunged right in.

Operating a Made-to-Order, small run business model – where everything is handmade in-house  – Marie and Nathalie "Cléo" Dewet are a daughter-mother duo who began their business in 2016, referencing their family’s rich history of garment-making and designing. (Born in the 19th Century, Nathalie's Great-Great Grandmother was a seamstress, and head of a tailoring workshop that operated in the north of France. Her Granddaughter, Nathalie's mother, enrolled Nathalie in sewing school – and the rest, as they say, is history!)
 
We spoke to Marie – who operates the brand alongside her day job at Vestiaire Collective – to learn more about the brand’s sustainable ethos and how she manages a dual relationship with her mother-cum-business partner.


Image courtesy of Maison Cléo.

Fashion obviously runs in your blood...
Everything for the brand came about thanks to the women in my family. My grandmother taught my mother how to sew, and my great-grandmother was the one who taught her. I wanted to pay tribute to them, to thank them for that skill.

How did the concept for the brand come about? What do you and your mother bring to the label, individually?
We never really thought about the handmade-to-order concept; it was something natural and normal to us, to not make things in advance. In our family, all of the women who were seamstresses and owned their own workshops did the same, so it wouldn’t have felt normal to do anything different. My mother is an amazing seamstress, and I bring my fashion point of view and skills in communication. We complement each other very well.

Traditional handmade pieces are so special today. Plus, as everything is made to order, people can also send us their own body measurements so that my mother can make the piece according to them – which is quite unique too!


Marie and her mother, Nathalie "Cléo" Dewet.

What does 'sustainable style' mean to you? Was it a conscious decision to create in this way?
Nothing was planned; we never thought consciously about making a sustainable system, as for us it was something that already existed. When we know that fashion is the second industry that pollutes the most, it felt wrong to produce in advance. I wanted to make pieces in natural fabrics, because I hate synthetics. I couldn't find one brand in France that was making clothes in natural fabrics alone, so I was lost when I wanted to buy something new. I am proud to be French, but our clothes are for girls from around the whole world.

Keen to learn more? Click here to visit Maison Cléo.


Also on Because Magazine:

+ These designers are the future of sustainable fashion.

+ Caroline Issa has a lot to say about practical footwear (and for good reason). 

+ Find out what you get when you mix a biochemist and botanist.