Piece of Chic, The print Makers

17.02.2017 - Rachele

The print Makers

On the day of the interview, the couple (Barbara and Sébastien are partners and parents, as well as running a business together) have just returned from New York. In a few days’ time, they will be in Paris. The export business is their life, and has been since 2010, the year they set up Pieceofchic, a studio specialising in prints. From the very first international trade shows in which they took part (Première Vision in New York and Paris, in particular), the Belgian duo’s digital designs were a huge hit. The Japanese and Americans went crazy for their ultra-modern prints, much more than the Belgians who, unexpectedly, gave them the cold shoulder, considering them to be too ‘street’ and not ‘classic’ enough.

©Piece of Chic - imprimé- COS-  BELGIANBOUTIQUE

These prints were often inspired by the couple’s travels. “In the print sector, you always need to be innovative. You always need to be going further in your creativity and in the digitalisation processes,” explains Barbara Repole. “Six years after we set up the studio, we understand that it is pointless and counter-productive to try and stick to hypothetical ‘market expectations’. Our international clients such as Nike, Cos, Adidas, Vans, Tommy Hilfiger, Macy’s, Mango, Tara Jarmon, Converse, Marc Jacobs, etc. want to be surprised. Given the resources available to their internal teams, the main purpose of the prints they purchase from us - all exclusive - is to feed into their creative process. We do regularly find our prints on clothes or accessories, but sometimes they are simply used as part of a mood-board, as a preliminary exercise to start work on a collection. Our only point of reference is the development of our five annual collections (around 2,500 prints in total), which have to include certain big categories, i.e. floral, geometric, etc.” For this couple which describes itself as “print designers”, but also “hunters of colours”, with the big challenge being to combine the upmarket and often luxury branding of their clients with their own playful, cheery, and mischievous approach. But perhaps this mix is the key to their success? After all, it’s what led them to calling themselves Pieceofchic when they set up the studio.

©Piece of Chic - imprimé-OH MY LOVE-  BELGIANBOUTIQUE

The Super project

In 2010, a few months after they set up the studio, Sébastien and Barbara decided to take on a new challenge by putting their prints on a line of dresses. The Belgian presentation of the capsule collection made quite an impression. It was enough to persuade them to take the experiment one step further and set up a label; and thus, Superpieceofchic was born.  “We have absolutely no regrets about this adventure,” says Barbara. “But since we realised that it was starting to take over our activities at the studio, we decided to put it on the back burner. Fashion is a very complicated sector that requires significant financial resources, as well as a lot of time to take on responsibility for lots of different roles. When you launch a collection, you have to keep up with a very rigorous schedule and respect a number of particular imperatives - manufacturing at a low cost, for example - which weren’t at all in line with our ideals. We loved designing the collections, but felt we were losing our authenticity.”  

©Piece of Chic - Monique Lhullier -  BELGIANBOUTIQUE

In hindsight, however, the couple says they are delighted with the boost in visibility that came from this venture. And while they haven’t completely ruled out further forays into the world of fashion with the Super brand, they know that these will take the shape of one-off capsule collections, or collaborations with other brands or partners.

©Piece of Chic - Marc Jacobs -  BELGIANBOUTIQUE

For the time being, Sébastien and Barbara are focusing on the development of their studio, for which they have just hired their first agent. “The agent will focus on Europe, a market which we’re still figuring out, but which has real potential for growth. For others, like Japan or the US, we are currently working with freelance agents.” Their second objective is to explore beyond the world of fashion. They have already begun to meet this challenge through various partnerships with key players in the design and decoration sectors. The best is yet to come.

 More info on: www.pieceofchic.com 


©Piece of Chic - portrait -  BELGIANBOUTIQUE

Marie Honnay