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Sofien Abed: Ecology for all

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

A brilliant and determined creative talent, Sofien Abed has taken courses and acquired the sort of experience that many envy, and he shares his professional background with us here in the framework of Mode Show 1, a fashion show he has created for the Secours Populaire Français non-profit association.

Sofien Abed

Sofien Abed was born in Tourcoing and completed almost all of his education in the Lille metropolitan area. Now aged 26, the young artistic director is currently working at the Secours Populaire in Roubaix, heading up a small but nevertheless formidable team, and it was here that he came up with a collection made entirely from old clothes and fabrics that had been cleaned, turned inside out and updated. This creative range consisted of 25 entirely recycled and brand-new looks as part of an approach that was perfectly in keeping with the principles of sustainable development and environmental protection.

Having been a fan of the plastic arts from a very early age, Sofien went to the ESAAT college of applied arts in Roubaix after completing his lower secondary education, and it was here, after passing the entrance exam, that he spent his later secondary school years, in an environment conducive to all forms of creativity, until he sat his baccalaureate in Applied Arts. This was also where he enrolled on a BTS (the equivalent of the British HND) course in Textiles, Fashion Design and Environment, graduating in 2015.

Having registered for the entrance exam to the La Cambre National School of Visual Arts in Brussels not really thinking anything would come of it, he was quite surprised to be admitted. During his time at the school he would go on to further develop his creative side through a more specific approach to volume. He stayed there for two years, nurturing his own artistic talents, which gave him chance to realise where his dreams really lay, namely in high-end off-the-peg menswear. Noting that he lacked technical knowledge in this particular field and that he needed precision, he decided to enrol at Esmod Roubaix, going on to complete a degree in fashion design and *pattern-making* there between 2017 and 2018. His two years at Esmod were certainly busy ones, giving him the opportunity to complete internships at Etam, Christian Lacroix and Céline. In 2017, he won the La Redoute Talents award, and on graduating in 2019 he was hired by Maxime Simoëns to work at the studio on the designer's menswear collections. Also in 2019, having been short-listed for the International Young Fashion Designers’ Festival in Dinan, he went on to win the public choice award.

Sofien Abed at the Dinan Festival in 2019

Planet Esmod: Why did you originally go into fashion?

Sofien Abed: Initially I wanted to be an interior designer, but that was a very personal choice that focused mainly on my own home design, something that was quite intimate, you know. So in order to tell all these stories that were inside me, I turned my attentions to clothing and fashion, which are more accessible to everyone and perhaps more manageable too. I would like to combine fashion with interior design later on, though - the idea of being able to bring my clothing ideas to life in interior design is still one that I’m holding on to.

P. E.: What are the respective assets of each of the schools you attended?

S. A.: From a technical perspective, at the ESAAT, I started with textiles in A4 format, with flat drawings, trying to tell a story in this format alone. I went from this two-dimensional work to three dimensions at La Cambre, and this volume-based approach was all new to me. There was also a very creative side, because we were starting from nothing and had to get by finding our own materials or creating them, which makes you very independent in terms of creativity.

The teaching was more managed at Esmod, which helped me become more disciplined when it came to organising my work, and there was also more emphasis on pure technique. It was this perfectionist approach to pattern-making that I wanted to adopt, and that I certainly found at Esmod.

P. E.: If you had to do it over again, would you enrol at the same schools?

S. A.: Yes, definitely, because whilst I certainly found my creative side at La Cambre, I wanted to channel my work more and be able to really hone my skills; I needed real training in pattern-making, and for that, there is really only Esmod.

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

S. A.: I would tell them to follow through with their plans and to develop their artistic culture; to dig deeper into the whole art history aspect, for example. That may seem to be of secondary importance when you’re a student, but it's what fuels your creativity. It’s so important!

P. E.: With regard to Mode Show 1, how did you get involved with Secours Populaire?

S. A.: The person in charge of the Roubaix centre came to see my first fashion show at the Hospice d'Havré. She then suggested launching a joint project that would combine the worlds of fashion and community associations, which was a first for Secours Populaire. I then tried to involve a lot of different people and local tradespeople, including knitters, embroiderers, etc. in the project.

P. E.: Did you have access to Secours Populaire's clothing inventory?

S. A.: Yes, of course, meaning we can choose what can be used again. With jeans, for example, we picked out the stitching on those that were in very bad condition then flattened them out, cleaned them, and finally reassembled them into different garments. We also gave more classic pieces a new lease of life by reusing useful parts of old products to create new styles. We’ll actually be showcasing a total of 25 different looks made from unique individual pieces.

P. E.: How do you see your career progressing from here?

S. A.: I’d love to continue this work and put on a new Mode Show next year, but I’m also keen to develop my own brand. My personal work has been enriched by recycled materials from the outset, and the laces I used in my show, for example, were taken from old Christian Lacroix inventory. I’m particularly keen to develop communication surrounding what I do, to better explain what it is that I do and to make myself better understood. With this in mind, we’re going to create a YouTube channel as part of the Secours Populaire project to explain our approach from A to Z.

P. E.: What sort of frame of mind were you in when you created the exhibition?

S. A.: My aim here is to inspire and encourage people, especially in light of this health crisis we’ve been experiencing, to create, by means of upcycling, to reach out to people and to inspire them, that's the challenge I've set myself. This new way of creating, or rather of re-creating, helps make fashion more accessible to the people and to make it not only more eco-friendly but also more collective.

Le Mode Show 1, an eco-friendly fashion show, will take place on Saturday 13th November. Salle Watremez, 13 rue de l'Hospice, Roubaix.

Free admission by invitation.

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