As part of our partnership with the ANDAM Fashion Award, we met Stephanie D’heygere, founder of the accessory brand D’heygere and winner of this year Accessories Prize. We talked about giving a new life to clothes and how to find inspiration in everyday life.
After working as a designer for big companies such as Dior and Martin Margiela on their accessory lines, Stephanie D’heygere decided to create her own brand. She had been thinking of it for years and after finding the good suppliers, she finally took a leap in January 2018 with her first showroom. Her idea is simple but efficient: create original and useful pieces out of trivial elements of everyday life clothing. Results are amazing: a fanny pack made out of a shirt sleeve or a bracelet created with gloves. For Stephanie D’heygere, the design is crucial – she wants the product to be beautiful but she thinks it’s a great shame if it is not also useful. And that is at the core of her collection.
For the designer, what is at stake today is to put back value into the things we buy. In an era of fast fashion where prices are being smashed and hyper-consumption highly encouraged, there is an issue with the amount of clothing we buy. Especially when launching a new brand, D’heygere understood that consumers are buying famous labels because of their name, and so to emerge in such a crowded landscape, she knows she has to bring an added value to her products.
“What should I do with very low-price pieces of clothing? I cannot sell them because they’re not worth anything but I cannot wear them anymore because they ran out of fashion so fast. I cannot toss them either.”
According to Stephanie, one of the solutions to this problem could be upcycling i.e. transforming old materials or products that we do not use anymore. But for now, the challenge is that people who come to her showroom to order a piece expect something that is at the same time unique and very precise. As a result, it is still quite difficult to really consider upcycling if the brand does not want to deceive people. Nonetheless, the designer qualifies her current work as “fake upcycling” because instead of re-using a pre-existing product, she gives a new life to materials. That is what she is doing with her sleeve fanny pack or her bank notes or cigarettes turned into necklaces and hearings. D’heygere knows how to re-understand everyday life.
Despite a very innovative vision of design, D’heygere is still considering innovation in terms of materials with caution. Even if she is aware of the necessity to invest in it, she is not sure that it is something consumers are going after.
“Like every new things, innovation in materials can be scary. Is it more expensive? Do we need more quantity? Is the client going to like it?”
She also deeply regrets the lack of information regarding new materials and their consequences. When creating a new brand, there is a real challenge is finding suppliers and factories to work with. Therefore, it is even more difficult to find people savvy enough to meet the challenges of the future. At the moment, she prefers to expand her brand before taking up new difficulties.
But Stephanie already thinks about the future of D’heygere and she will present her new collection next January. She is very grateful for what the ANDAM prize brought her, such as the mentorship with Swarovski or the entrepreneurship courses at IFM.
“It’s not only about money, it’s also about learning and being surrounded. ANDAM was the occasion to meet very interesting people and learn from them.”
She hopes she will soon cover the whole span of accessories. She is more specifically thinking about shoes and hats and she wants to emphasize her love for craftsmanship and traditional products.