January 18, 2022

Cl Youth Theatre

Fashion, The needs of women

Fashion that’s made in France and eco-friendly? The French say ‘oui!’

For over a century, Hauts-de-France was the textile capital of France – until the jobs disappeared overseas. Today, it’s trying to reinvent itself as the country’s eco-friendly textile engine.

The push to reuse local materials and reduce waste is part of a larger phenomenon by French entrepreneurs to offer products that are made domestically. This past June, about 450 textile businesses joined forces to create the Textile Valley project, with the goal of bringing 1% of the country’s overall textile production back to Hauts-de-France, and with it, upwards of 4,000 jobs.

Why We Wrote This

Fashion-forward France wants to become a leader in eco-friendly clothing production. Part of that strategy is promoting items that are made locally.

Their hope is to revitalize communities, boost the local economy, and help consumers think differently about how they shop.

And since September 2020, the French government has plugged 100 billion euros into relaunching the economy, with a third dedicated to relocating production back to France using more modern, sustainable practices.

“French people like these products because they’re original, but also because they make a positive impact and have a history,” says Hubert Motte, founder of upcycle clothier La Vie est Belt. “Especially since COVID, there’s a desire by French people to leave ‘fast fashion’ behind and buy products that are made locally.”

Tourcoing, France

Strips of used, donated bicycle tires lie stacked in a pile on a flat work surface in a labyrinthine warehouse in this northern French town. Soon, the tires will be washed, perforated for buckles, and assembled into smart, sturdy belts. 

They aren’t the only upcycled product created by La Vie est Belt. The textile company also takes used sheets to make men’s and women’s underwear, and even sells a DIY kit for customers to make their own undergarments.

“French people like these products because they’re original, but also because they make a positive impact and have a history,” says Hubert Motte, who founded La Vie est Belt in 2017 at the age of 23. “Especially since COVID, there’s a desire by French people to leave ‘fast fashion’ behind and buy products that are made locally.”

Why We Wrote This

Fashion-forward France wants to become a leader in eco-friendly clothing production. Part of that strategy is promoting items that are made locally.

In doing so, Mr. Motte and his company are helping turn this region into a textile-recycling engine at a time when both eco-friendly clothes and buy local movements are growing – the latter by as much as 64%, according to recent polls. The effort draws on the local history of Hauts-de-France’s history, which for over a century was the textile capital of France.

The push to reuse local materials and reduce waste is part of a larger phenomenon by French entrepreneurs to offer products that are made domestically. This past June, around 450 textile businesses joined forces to create the Textile Valley project, with the goal of bringing 1% of the country’s overall textile production back to Hauts-de-France, and with it, upwards of 4,000 jobs.