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UNREST, the genesis of an eco-responsible t-shirt brand

From the ESMOD Paris class of 2014, Lucile Trouette first got noticed by winning a special prize for her collection Civil Unrest made with technical materials in 2015 at the Talents de Mode (Fashion Talents,) an event sponsored by the Village des Créateurs (Designer Village.) Now, she has everything in place to launch her own brand, a strong base of support. However, Lucile had some doubts about her brand’s legitimacy, because in her mind, it lacked an additional value, despite its technical and design qualities. She wanted to give meaning to this project before launching it.

So, she joined Galeries Lafayette’s design studio (own brand) where she learned the ins and outs of putting together a collection. This is where she really understood the difficulties of the job: limited creative freedom, production constraints, etc. After this formative experience, Lucile pursued her career in London for some time before returning to Bordeaux, where her lifestyle is very different, more focused on ecology, health, etc.

There, she works for a Fab Lab that opened her eyes to the pollution caused by the fashion industry. In fact, while visiting the warehouses of Le Relais, she discovered the mountains of clothes abandoned by their owners. In total, nearly 20 tons of clothes are collected... per day! And still, the content of these collections represents only 1/3 of the French textile consumption. The remaining 2/3 are not recycled and are sent to the incinerator, or into nature! What alternative can we find in the face of this ecological disaster?

Lucile decided to dig deeper into the issue by participating in a Mooc dedicated to entrepreneurs for change, organized by HEC. Her participation in the event allowed her to find useful solutions to develop a more responsible business model for her future company. Lucile still has in mind to create her own brand, and her reflections on the sustainability of clothing lead her to find its added value and a real meaning to her creative approach.

To improve her thought process, Lucile joined the Ticket For Change incubator for a 6-month entrepreneurial course that gave her the keys to lay the foundations of her future company. At the end of this experience, she was ready to launch UNREST, a brand of eco-responsible sportswear with a circular production chain.

Combining sportswear and natural fibers, in a field that uses a lot of technical materials made of synthetic fibers, is a great challenge! The goal is to find suppliers willing to consider the benefits of natural fibers that would best suit the constraints of various sports. It is important to remember that natural fibers break down much faster over time and therefore have a lower ecological impact. Moreover, this type of fiber is more easily recycled than plastic-based fibers (which also release harmful micro-particles when washed.) After many discussions, they chose cotton (in small quantities), linen, hemp and Lyocel (fabric made from wood pulp.) For example, a tennis shirt will be made of 75% Lyocel (for its breathable and resistant properties) and 25% cotton (for its softness and flexibility). Lucile is currently working on elasticity with her suppliers and could achieve that from some knits.

Although the UNREST brand was originally conceived to offer a wide range of clothing dedicated to sports, Lucile preferred to revise her strategy to specialize in a single product: the Tee-Shirt. This new positioning allows her to be better identified in the market. In order to survey her future clientele, she organized a series of public workshops focusing on a well-defined question: what would be the ideal eco-responsible T-shirt for you? The overwhelming responses she received allowed her to develop her product and to offer several ranges, from the Cardio T-shirt to the Second Skin T-shirt, each adapted to one or more sports disciplines.

As for sourcing, Lucile works with French, Portuguese, Austrian and Turkish textile suppliers who grow natural fibers in a sustainable way. The production will take place in Lyon, respecting one of her fundamental rules: to manufacture within 1000 km of Bordeaux, the headquarters of her company. The exception to this is for larger-scale production, which will be done in Northern Portugal (respecting this same rule)

UNREST products are specialized in sports, and they easily find their target audience: clubs, especially the Tennis Federation, which often order at least a hundred pieces. The rest of the stock will be sold in B2C. With a price range between 35 and 75€, the brand achieves a perfect balance between eco-responsibility and accessibility for the general public.

However, in order for the venture to continue, Lucile will have to find the necessary funds and find her customer base via individuals. She has therefore launched a crowdfunding campaign on ULULE to raise the funds necessary to continue the story. These funds will be used to buy materials, pay the artisans, cover shipping and logistics costs and develop new products.

A small financial boost from the general public may enable the company to go even further with this promising undertaking!

Lucile tells us about her project and materials in this video

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