Sustainable fashion by Alicia Rousseau Jourdan, a Franco Peruvian creative, was born on the shores of Lake Titicaca: here the creative, who settled in Peru after having lived in Paris for many years, discovered the pollera, the traditional Peruvian full skirt. A mix of styling with a very Parisian striped T-shirt and a pair of white sneakers and here is the idea: why not create a responsible fashion brand dedicated to girls and capable of fusing Peruvian culture and craft traditions and Parisian savoir-faire? Alicia Rousseau Jourdan talks about her brand and why enthusiasm is essential to respond to this period of coronavirus crisis.
Why did you choose to draw childrenswear and not to create for babies too? And why do you only design clothes for girls?
“Childrenswear is a fantastic and stimulating world that I discovered when I was working in Paris in luxury fashion. I have a six year old daughter who is a great source of inspiration for me. For these reasons, it was a natural choice for me to draw for children and not for babies. I also decided to focus on women’s clothes for production reasons. We are a small brand that produces small quantities, and for children’s clothes we already offer size 8 (EU 36, Editor’s note) and “Maxi-me” sizes for mothers, it is a daily challenge. We will see in the future if we will have the opportunity to expand the brand with men’s and baby clothing, but we prefer to take it one step at a time and grow organically. “
Can you tell us more about your sustainable fashion brand? When was it launched?
“I am Franco-Peruvian, and I have always lived in Paris but four years ago I went to live in Lima, Peru, with my husband and our two children. This return of mine to my ‘other’ roots was a real explosion of emotions, a real rebirth. And I also discovered responsible fashion thanks to craftsmen full of passion for their art. This mix of emotions and beautiful encounters led to the launch of Anaychay in a completely natural way.
The turning point was traveling with my family to the Uros floating islands on Lake Titicaca, where women wear the ‘pollera’, the traditional skirt. I bought one for my six year old daughter and a similar one for me too. When I saw my daughter with her very trendy white sneakers, her Parisian-style striped top and this ruffled fuchsia pink Peruvian skirt I realized that for the children there was still no look that combined the Latin American cultural heritage with the Parisian style contemporary, so it all started, this difficult and personal project. It was 2018 “.
How do you manage to reconcile the creative side of your work with your past experiences in the commercial and retail sector?
“I have worked for twenty years as an international sales manager for luxury brands such as Sonia Rykiel and JC de Castelbajac … My experience has helped me create our brand strategy and find the right balance between creativity and what a customer wants to buy for their children. However, for an emerging brand that comes from Peru it is a very difficult path, but not impossible if it is convinced of bringing something new, with a sincere message and a real commitment behind each individual garment “.
How do you manage to combine the Peruvian identity with the French one?
“Our collection is a fusion of contemporary, urban and sophisticated French style, with Peruvian craftsmanship, know-how, colors and graphic motifs. I have lived almost all my life in Paris, so I see fashion from a ‘French’ point of view, but at the same time my Peruvian roots, my life in Peru, all the trips I have made to Peru since I was a child they inspired a series of typical Peruvian details that I mix and match in a natural way with the Parisian style with which I grew up “.
Tell us about your creative and productive process
“Each collection tells a new story, while always maintaining this emotional link between France and Peru, between Europe and South America. I always have many ideas and inspirations, but, let’s face it, my daughter draws better than I do, so I work with highly talented Peruvian designers who shape my ideas. It is a long team effort followed by manual packaging with artisans and small workshops, the process is longer than the industrial one “.
What is sustainability for you?
“I am convinced that through fashion we can transmit strong messages that go beyond clothes. In Peru, unfortunately, there is still a very high level of precariousness in the labor market and a stable level of child labor. With “Anaychay”, which means “recognition”, “gratitude” in the Quechua language, we want to convey a strong message about the richness of our cultural diversity (through our roots, travels, friendships) … And also to give a social meaning to our brand, giving job opportunities to craftsmen, seamstresses, embroiderers and those who create hand serigraphs in Peru.
With the garments produced entirely in Peru, Anaychay contributes in its small way to the economic and social support of the Peruvian artisans in the disadvantaged suburbs of Lima, we work with them in exchange for a fair and dignified salary that ensures a better future for their families. We prefer to offer a limited number of products but of higher quality and creativity using local natural fibers as much as possible. I think it’s the right way to start having a sustainable approach.
Personally, I’m a fan of vintage, second-hand clothes. I hope that one day we will see one of our garments in a second-hand market, or “vide-grenier”, as we say in France, or on Vestiaire Collective. It will mean that the quality of our collections is high, and that the garments can be resold, have a second life, worn by another girl who carries on our multicultural story. “
Tell us about the fashion scene in Peru
“Peru is best known for raw materials, for fibers such as alpaca which are produced for international brands that have their manufactures in Peru. But things are changing. Peru also has many extraordinary talented designers who produce sustainably by collaborating with Peruvian craftsmen.
For some seasons, some of them have also grown internationally and have deservedly had greater visibility thanks to companies such as Vogue Talents. I am convinced that Peru will soon attract a larger number of international buyers, as is already happening in Colombia. It is a matter of time. As for high-end childrenswear, delicious Peruvian brands already exist, usually offering traditional embroidered skirts or knitwear. Anaychay is one of the few brands to offer a complete wardrobe, including accessories “.
How do you choose the materials?
“In Peru there are fabrics with incredible colors and designs, not all of them are natural fibers, we try to limit the use of synthetic materials to maintain the right balance. For our collections, working with materials such as baby alpaca and pima cotton is fantastic for its softness, quality and sustainability “.
What is your motto in these difficult times?
“My motto is to work hard with passion and sincerity. We must let ourselves be guided by opportunities, by failures, by encounters. If one door closes, others will open, indicating new, sometimes unexpected, paths.
When I left Paris to go and live in Peru, if someone had said to me ‘you will create your own brand’, I would certainly have replied: ‘are you crazy’? “
And what makes you believe that “everything will be fine”?
“At this moment the global economy is on the ground and we all know that purchasing power has a great value, we can have a strong social impact on the life of the craftsmen who depend on it, as well as an impact on the environment and on the planet. . I am convinced that people will focus on what is really important: buy less, but better. It’s time to enhance the craftsmanship, the time it takes to make a single garment. As a result, emerging brands of children’s clothing such as Anaychay will have to get up and start again, but I am sure that if you continue to work hard and with passion, many doors will open, for new opportunities and important new encounters “!