Young French label Egonlab embracing NFTs and genderless fashion
Egonlab, making it in fashion today means embracing many things at once -- from traditional runway shows to digital clothes, and even using your own grandparents as models.
Egonlab launched two years ago just as the fashion industry was forced online by the pandemic.
Still in their 20s, they knew how to embrace the moment, with bold online presentations and savvy social media campaigns.
They are now launching themselves into the online metaverse with digital-only creations, including a tie-up with Crocs, makers of the famous plastic sandal.
But in a sign that the old ways are still relevant, their first appearance at Paris Fashion Week on Tuesday was a very traditional runway show -- at the Louvre no less.
"The screen was a good alternative, but people don't want to spend all their time in a virtual cocoon," said co-founder Kevin Nompeix at their Paris studio this week.
"People want to return to the physical. Fashion is an art that is alive, it's not just something to look at. You need to feel the movement of the clothes, the weight of the fabric."
"It's a consecration," added Florentin Glemarec, the label's other founder.
"Everyone wants to do runway shows now, being accepted in the official calendar is extremely important for us."
The unisex skirts that hang around their studio are testament to the fact that the duo have completely internalised the genderless moment.
"It's necessary for the credibility of a collection that it isn't masculine or feminine. Gender, sexuality, acceptance of everyone -- it's a movement that is close to our heart," said Nompeix.
That attitude comes through in the label's warm and personal social media presence.
One of their most popular moves was to include Glemarec's grandparents as models.
Rene, a former seaman, and Marie-Louise, a former newsagent, have appeared several times on the label's Instagram account, rocking its big-shouldered jackets or knee-high boots -- drawing a lot of love in the comments.
"They supported us from the start," said Glemarec, himself a former model.
"They came to the workshop to try on clothes. It started as a joke when grandpa joked: 'I could be a model, too'.
"But now we couldn't imagine the DNA of the brand without them."
The digital collaboration with Crocs, maker of the iconic plastic sandals that is celebrating its 20th year, is a nod to health workers, who often wear them on the job.
"We have made them sublime with Swarovski crystals to show they are a national treasure," said Nompeix.
They have also teamed up with a digital firm to create "Egonimati", styled as an online secret society for fans to explore their range of digital products, including NFTs.
And they are auctioning some of their Crocs to help provide digital access for poor communities.
For Nompeix, the key for a modern brand is to look in all these directions at once.
"We have created gateways to the past and we'll build gateways to the future, towards the next generation that we don't necessarily know yet."(AFP)