CAMILLE DARMAGNAC, VINTAGE FOREVER IN STYLE
Camille Darmagnac's passion for fashion shines through in her new virtual vintage boutique, Stori-A. Every day, she demonstrates her talent for fashion design in her selection of old treasures to sell online.
Between 2004 and 2007, Camille Darmagnac completed a double degree in fashion design and pattern-making at Esmod. But it was during her final internship that she was able to really develop her professional skills as a fashion designer. At the style consulting agency Nelly Rodi, she worked on the graphic design of their trend book. Straight afterwards, she landed her first real job as assistant designer for the brand Lili Gaufrette, a childswear line in the Zannier group. She soon became the designer for the line for teens. But her passion for women's fashion pushed her towards other opportunities. She went freelance, working for Irène Van Ryb, Mademoiselle Sarong (a brand of clothing made from Cambodian fabrics) and some of the childswear brands from the Zannier group, to name a few.
After three years working freelance, she began to miss a certain level of professional stability. In search of a more structured position, she started working at Etam. "There, I discovered a new world and a new way of working. It was my first time working at a big retail brand. I worked on the jersey, sweatshirt and t-shirt line, which was no small affair, with around 600 products each season. Over my five years there, I learnt a huge amount. I worked very closely with a product manager. This meant I became a lot more aware of the commercial side of this profession. And I really liked it.” Having become senior designer in the same department at Etam, she developed a certain taste for knitwear. After five years, and having become mum to a little boy, she decided to shift careers. “I was also quite critical of fast fashion, with new collections constantly dropping at breakneck speed. I didn't want to do that anymore. So I returned to working freelance.”
She found work straight away with a few brands, designing collections for them regularly, and meanwhile, Camille Darmagnac thought about a more personal project. At the same time, the markets for second-hand clothes and fine vintage pieces were also getting bigger and bigger. She tried it out and had fun, just on a personal level using the site Vinted. “It meant that I could personally contribute to developing more environmentally friendly ideas: recycle, repair, reuse. There are so many fantastic things about vintage clothes, I felt it would be a shame not to get more into it.” Her own vintage boutique project is slowly taking shape.
As of January 2020, Camille Darmagnac has been working full-time on her own business. She selects highly stylish garments and resells them on a specialised platform, Imparfaite, and also on the site CrushON. Her Instagram helps to drive interest for the pieces, although at first, she was not that interested in social media. Having met other vintage-lovers, she regularly contributes pieces to be sold in pop-up stores, through the vintage collective Système Solère. This occurs once a month, Covid restrictions allowing.[LR1] The logical next step in this adventure was to create her own Stori-A boutique, which went online in December 2020.
[LR1]Coquille dans la source "cession" au lieu de "session"
Planet Esmod: In the beginning, why did you choose fashion, design and Esmod?
Camille Darmagnac: When I was looking at schools, Esmod successfully convinced me not only of its creative abilities, but also its technical ones. So I thought it seemed like a school that would be able to steer me towards the job market. There was something more concrete about it.
P. E.: What were your dreams when you started at Esmod?
C. D.: I was immediately more drawn to fashion design. I found pattern-making very interesting, but at first I was not necessarily very good at it. Pattern-making demands a certain level of patience that I didn't really have[LR1] . I never dreamed of become a big designer like Jean-Paul Gaultier, my objective was simply to be able to find work after graduating so that I could live off my passion for fashion. In the end, luxury fashion was not really my dream.
P. E.: Can you define the Stori-A concept in a nutshell?
C. D.: Stori-A offers a selection of vintage clothes, so, older pieces but ones that are in line with modern tastes and trends, and in great condition. They're pieces from the past, but that you could almost find today in a modern collection. At Stori-A, you find clothes that could be bought by designers or creatives to remake identical versions that are brand new.
P. E.: Are you able to live off the income from the boutique?
C. D.: I do live off it, but that's because I also put my pieces on other marketplaces that have more visibility and are more international. Since the first lockdown, sales on these sites have really taken off. Now, I need to develop my own boutique more, promote it and increase its position in search results. But in fact, that's a whole other job, so I'm learning, even if I am not as fast as a social media and communications professional. That's actually my main project at the moment - to be able to pay a specialist to develop this side of things.
P. E.: How and where do you find your pieces?
C. D.: All over the place, mainly in France, in charity shops, second-hand clothes wholesalers, in flea markets and garage sales in normal times, but also a lot from overseas. Also, some clients contact me to offer me their clothes, sometimes brand-name, sometimes not, that they want to get rid of. And in general, that's where you can find hidden treasures.
P. E.: It sounds like a whole other profession than what you studied, right?
C. D.: Yes, I manage my little business by myself and I'm learning every day to manage the administrative side, communication, photos, etc. I've become more of a buyer than a fashion designer. At the moment, this niche is taking off in an amazing way.
P. E.: What kind of clothes can be recycled, what pieces cannot. and why?
C. D.: Anything can be staged in the vintage aisle. Even lingerie. Well, more bras or lace bustiers than underwear of course. Leotards also sell very well. What we can't recycle are pieces in too bad of a condition.
“Looking back, the three years I spent at Esmod were some of the best years of my education.”
P. E.: So in the end, are your initial studies at Esmod still useful to you now?
C. D.: Yes and no. Obviously, I have no business training, but the school taught us to constantly be developing our skills, throughout our career. This real curiosity for fashion, trends, what's coming next, it all started at school. Of course, I don't use my pattern-making knowledge much these days, but still... I use it for refurbishing certain pieces, for those that I sometimes rework. Also for the alterations that are sometimes necessary, even if I don't yet do upcycling.
P. E.: What were the key things that you got from Esmod?
C. D.: As I said, curiosity. The love of a job well done, as well. I also met people at school who I am still in touch with today. My professional network started at Esmod. But above all, it revealed my passion for fashion. Looking back, the three years I spent at Esmod were some of the best years of my education. I loved it!
P. E.: What do you think is the most important quality in a good fashion designer?
C. D.: Passion. You have to be passionate to work in fashion, because from the moment you start studying, your hours of work are no longer counted. And that is even more the case when you start working. So only those who are passionate will successfully graduate and get a job in fashion. Before Esmod, I was often bored at school. But not there, it was a revelation.
P. E.: What advice would you give nowadays to current Esmod students?
C. D.: Be passionate, creative, but also meticulous and detail-oriented in your work. As soon as you start doing internships, you're creating a network, and this is something that will help you get started and will be with you all throughout your career. That is also why it is important to choose your company carefully. Finally, don't slack on digital tools. The jobs of the future will require even more technological and digital skills.
P. E.: What projects are you currently working on?
C. D.: More and more people have been contacting me for various collaborations. Modern brands are introducing second-hand corners in their stores. Some are positioned on the vintage market, but in general, not all of them do it very well. With Stori-A, I would obviously love to work on this kind of vintage corner. At the moment, this seems a lot more doable than a physical Stori-A boutique, and I am not even sure if I would want to have one. I would also like to hire an embroiderer to make personalised creations for me on vintage pieces. So many things that I don't really have time to do by myself at the moment. I need a bit of time to grow Stori-A.P. E.: What projects are you currently working on?
C. D.: More and more people have been contacting me for various collaborations. Modern brands are introducing second-hand corners in their stores. Some are positioned on the vintage market, but in general, not all of them do it very well. With Stori-A, I would obviously love to work on this kind of vintage corner. At the moment, this seems a lot more doable than a physical Stori-A boutique, and I am not even sure if I would want to have one. I would also like to hire an embroiderer to make personalised creations for me on vintage pieces. So many things that I don't really have time to do by myself at the moment. I need a bit of time to grow Stori-A.