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Updated: Jul 5, 2022

How do you make vintage fashion for today using the recycled fabrics of yesterday? This is the challenge that Eva and Nathan Cape have set themselves with Girard-Shop - a brand that not only pays tribute to their grandparents (hence the name Girard), but is also very much a family affair.

Eva Cape, creator of Girard-Shop

Everyone gets involved here - mum even does the accounts for us! While Nathan, who is still a business school student, is the brand’s right-hand man when it comes to marketing and communication, the creative side of the business rests on the shoulders of his sister Eva; after all, she is the one who completed a double degree in fashion design and pattern-making at Esmod Roubaix from 2014 to 2017. “I’ve been surrounded by fashion since I was a baby. My mother loved to dress me from head to toe, and my grandmother, a former Miss, introduced me to my first fashion magazines”.

With a vocational baccalaureate in clothing under her belt, Eva Cape is immediately sensitive to environmental issues and aware of the roles we all have to play in addressing them. Indeed, she has been furthering her knowledge of environmental responsibility throughout her education. She is particularly keen on the patterns of the past, and her first men’s collection at Esmod was, in fact, inspired by the styles of the 1930s.

The Calais-based Girard-Shop was officially opened in December 2019 and has already established a much wide-reaching presence outside of the region thanks to its strong presence on Instagram and Facebook.

Men’s piece created from Girard-Shop vintage fabrics.

Planet Esmod: How would you describe Girard-Shop in a few words?

Eva Cape: I'm really inspired by the styles of the past, so I hunt for old patterns on Etsy and at flea markets. We rework them slightly to reflect current fashion trends whilst maintaining their vintage feel.

Even when I was at the school, my end-of-course Girard collection was aimed at ‘A man who dislikes modern society and is reconnecting with the cultural roots of the past’, and the spirit of my pieces hasn’t changed since!

Nathan Cape: The brand is essentially all about second-hand fabrics, which is what makes it environmentally sustainable, although the vintage style is also a key aspect of what we do.

P.E. : Where did you do your end-of-study internship?

Eva: I actually found a job straightaway at Vestiaire Collective when they first opened in Tourcoing, and I stayed there for two and a half years, but I was already working on Girard at the same time, trying to develop the brand with my brother. Launching my own clothing line has always been my main goal, especially with members of my family, and my end-of-year collection at Esmod Paris already bore the Girard name. I specialised in men’s fashion in my third year at Esmod, but the two previous years I had also studied ladies’ fashion, which is why I wanted my brand to be a complete mixture of the two.

Nathan Cape, meanwhile, oversees the marketing side of the family business but has also been known to model on occasion.

P.E. : Fabrics seem to be essential to your research. What is your collection made of?

Nathan: Half is made of recycled second-hand fabrics and the other half is made of new but eco-friendly fabrics. Most of the time, the second-hand fabrics are new too, it’s just that they have never been used - things like discontinued designer fabrics, ends of rolls, dead inventory, etc.

Eva: I make my pieces from old fabrics, but in the future I’d like to be able to rework old finished garments and modernise them.

P. E.: Where do you find these treasures from the past?

Eva: we get the discontinued designer fabrics from Roubaix, Lille, Laon, Paris... You can also get ends of rolls from Emmaüs, or from local factories. We might also eventually start making garments out of customers’ offcuts.

P. E.: How does the manufacturing of the collections work?

Eva: In the beginning I made all the clothes myself, but then we decided to work with a professional reintegration workshop in Calais. The workshop also has a branch in Laon, where the organiser keeps a lot of fabrics from dead inventory.

“The Esmod course gave me a certain maturity, but mainly a real sense of professionalism”. Eva Cape

P. E.: Is it nice working with your family?

Eva: Yes, it’s great! My brother and I get on well, so we can be upfront and truthful with one another. The trust is there, so that's important.

P. E.: Nathan, had you ever imagined working in fashion beforehand?

Nathan: Not really, at first, but I wanted to have an independent personal project to work on, and I've always has this love of fashion through my sister, so our goals were perfectly aligned, and I found that I was also really into fashion.

A summery and feminine Girard-Shop creation

P. E.: How would you define your respective roles?

Eva: We complement one another so much that it's hard to define it like that.

Nathan: We both do a bit of everything, but Eva is more into styling, pattern-making and design, although she does sometimes ask my opinion in these fields, too. I have more to do with logistics, sales and marketing, but I do consult her as well. We really do work together all the time.

P. E.: What did you get out of your classes at Esmod?

Eva: A certain maturity, but mainly a real sense of professionalism. Studying this sort of thing involves a lot of stress and organisation, and you're really thrown in at the deep end from the very first day, but I did get lot out of it, because that’s how it is in the workplace. Compared to secondary school, it’s a whole other world. Between the internships, the meetings and the work to be done at home, I really did have to grow up pretty quickly. The fact that the lecturers at Esmod have all worked in the fashion industry, for major designers, and sometimes still do, makes all the difference. My pattern-making teachers passed on a huge amount of knowledge, in terms of their skills and expertise, for example.

P. E.: What advice would you give to current Esmod students?

Eva: I found it difficult to transition from secondary school to Esmod, so you really have to hold on tight from the start. Take things seriously from the outset - this is no game! Then, of course, you have to persevere, especially when you have a specific dream in mind, but if I had to do it all over again, I would still want to attend Esmod.

Eva Cape in her Calais workshop

P. E.: How do you see the Girard of the future?

Nathan: I hope the brand will have expanded and most of all that its reputation will have grown, while at the same time maintaining its family structure. We’d like to help people to become better consumers, and to change the way in which they understand fashion.

Eva: Eco-friendly brands are enjoying a growing presence on the market these days, and I think there’s more to it than just a fashion statement. This is our future.

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