PARIS — For French outdoor lifestyle brand Aigle, the presentation of its first designs by artistic directors Aurélien Arbet, Jérémie Égry and José Lamali — the trio behind fashion label Études Studio, who took the helm in 2020 — was not just about showcasing its updated style.
It was also an opportunity to spell out the changes made since it became a purpose-driven company earlier this year, with a stated mission of “allowing each person to fully live experiences without leaving traces other than their footprints.”
“You don’t really reinvent a brand that is 167 years old,” said Aigle’s chief executive officer Sandrine Conseiller, explaining that these goals were only possible because the brand had “been practicing [sustainable fashion] long before the term existed, using natural materials such as rubber, products made to last and industrial processes where waste was recycled.”
Among the key progress points were the widespread use of recycled materials for the non-rubber elements of its footwear and the lining of garments; 91 percent of its waterproofing treatments being PFC-free as of spring 2022; the implementation of a secondhand offering, and having all of Aigle’s suppliers signing the United Nations Global Compact.
“These are changes that take five seconds to be announced, but that required rethinking the [brand’s] entire value chain,” said Conseiller, adding that the yearlong process to becoming a purpose-driven company in France had also put Aigle on track to becoming a B-Corp, although she didn’t expect this to happen before 2023.
According to its creative leads, the “ability to act and move a structure much larger than ourselves, with an impact on another scale,” as well as Aigle’s beginnings as a brand made for 19th-century Parisians seeking to remain chic regardless of weather conditions, is what drove their focus toward a pragmatic offering, spread across a fall 2021 limited release capsule and the full spring 2022 collection, full of separates that looked smart enough for city dwellers but hardy enough to venture elsewhere, including a multitude of raincoats and rubber-based footwear.
The retail launch of the spring 2022 collection will coincide with an e-commerce push. Digital sales, which represent 14 percent of the company’s 280 million euros in sales, opened to an additional 200 countries in April. Among the most promising territories after the first three months is the U.S., a territory Conseiller hopes will grow over time to represent 10 percent of overall sales.
“When you know that there is a 50 percent difference between the footprint of an injection-molded plastic boot made in China, and a Made in France rubber boot, we feel [our sustainable commitment and expertise] will resonate with a customer who is already buying rubber boots and currently doesn’t have many alternatives,” said the executive, naming New York City, California and Florida as areas of interest for the brand’s initial American development.