From oxidizing metals and fashioning crystal pavé stones to working with enamel and lacquer, Ateliers Tamalet positions itself as a go-to for apparel brands venturing into jewelry design and manufacturing. The company specializes in custom-making jewelry for fashion brands “from design to delivery” and includes belts and other accessories in its repertoire.
Ateliers Tamalet’s range of uniquely colored, speckled and patterned metals are regularly seen on the runways of major designers, as well as its mixed media collections made from beading, weaving and crocheting or leather, tassel and pom-pom statement pieces. The firm experiments with metals such as brass, stainless steel, silver, zamak and alloy to reinvent its approach to different materials through oxidative processes via its research and development team.
Originally launched in Paris in 1995 — where its headquarters and design studio are still located today — Ateliers Tamalet has since expanded with a sales office in New York under the leadership of David Benayoun, the executive vice president of Ateliers Tamalet Corp. The company operates a logistics team in Hong Kong and manages its own factories and warehouses in Dongguan, China. Here, Benayoun talks to WWD about Ateliers Tamalet’s craftsmanship, latest innovations and material sourcing strategies.
WWD: How has Ateliers Tamalet’s technology enabled designers to increase speed to market for their collections?
David Benayoun: It is true that speed-to-market has become a clear differentiating factor among fashion brands over the last 10 to 20 years, first in retail, with brands such as Zara offering new styles inspired from the runway shows in just a few weeks. But nowadays, online brands are trying to go even faster and that’s very exciting. We try to help our clients along this challenging path. From design to delivery, timelines are getting shorter and shorter and only a strong understanding of the technologies behind prototyping and production can help us achieve this.
For example, our prototyping teams in Paris have leveraged 3-D design and 3-D printing in order to accelerate our lead times on metal-based products. We now use both resin and wax printing depending on the needs of our clients. This is a tremendous change for us. However, it also means that we have to involve our clients along the way so they can participate in this faster pace.
WWD: How is Ateliers Tamalet differentiated in the market?
D.B.: We believe that we can provide our clients with a Made in Italy quality while our productions are [manufactured] in our own factories in Asia. Early on in our development, we understood that working with high-end brands was a great opportunity for us to invest even more in research and development. Hand in hand with luxury brands, we develop new techniques that will be adopted by larger mass-market brands over time.
WWD: What is unique about Ateliers Tamalet’s craftsmanship, attention to detail and level of service to clients?
D.B.: I have to give as much attention to detail to a runway piece as an outlet store product. This is the only way we can guarantee such a level of quality in the long run. I always try my best to be available for my clients and I hope they appreciate it. That is the least a vendor should do. I heard so many stories from my clients about Italian vendors that would stop answering their e-mails for a week. Given the timelines everybody is working on, this is something that should not be possible anymore. [And], some brands come to us with such low targets that it would mean lowering our standards on quality or compliance, and that’s a red line I refuse to cross.
I believe that quality is something that should be taken extremely seriously as a manufacturer, even though it also means much more troubles for us during the production phase.
Our range of clients in the U.S. grew tremendously over the last three years, since I first created the company here and I’m convinced that it can be explained by what you were asking about: passion, creativity, craftsmanship yet professionalism. I’m very grateful to our clients for the trust they place in our work season after season. Our products were showcased on three different runway shows during the last New York Fashion Week, and that’s something we are very excited and proud of.
WWD: What is the process behind sourcing new materials?
D.B.: Working directly with designers is the part of my work that I like the most. They do challenge us a lot, but they also have that great sense of listening to what we can do and what we can’t [do]. We often face the issue of creating a beautiful first prototype that can hardly be translated into a production piece. But that’s where we all must communicate a lot with the factories and with our clients.
There is nothing our team of prototypers enjoy more than going crazy on new materials and experiencing never-seen-before techniques. We created a line of jewelry made of concrete, another one composed of deeply engraved stones, then another one with PVC discs circled in metal, etc. It is a never-ending process of creativity and innovation that can sometimes inspire designers.
In order to [demonstrate the results from our research and development team], I send a monthly newsletter to a shortlist of designers and production managers so we can share and discuss how a technique could be adopted by their brands. It is a give-and-take discussion and I do enjoy this process a lot. Our motto is that any source of inspiration must be considered a potential future technique that might be offered to our clients one day.
WWD: Ateliers Tamalet creates two collections each year. How do designers mold the collections to their own aesthetic?
D.B.: Absolutely, we do release two collections per year that we then showcase to our clients both in Paris and New York. It is always a great opportunity to [meet] with designers about their future collections and inspirations. I guess communicating and sharing is at the heart of our success. Then, from our own creations, some designers want to adopt a technique for their brand and that is how we actually ended up producing a full collection for the runway show of one of our clients a few seasons ago.
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