Our couture project explained in English
The Refugee tailors reconnecting with their craft.
In November 2020, Espero opened a couture workshop in Antony, south of Paris. The organisation aims to offer a group of uniquely talented refugees their first professional experience in France. Major French brands have already offered fabric remnants, while others are considering collaborations to produce pieces 100% made in France.
“They have the talent, experience and motivation. All they needed was an outstretched hand.” Nine refugees – six Afghans, two Tibetans and one Moroccan – were the first tailors hired by the Espero Association for the launch of the “Threads of the Future” project, a philanthropic couture workshop employing only refugees in Antony in the southern suburbs of Paris.
“These are people who have never worked in France, even though they have incredible skills, skills that have never been valued here, even by the refugees themselves, who didn’t have the nerve,” said Maya Persaud, who founded Espero and is at the helm of this new sewing workshop nestled in an 18,000-square-meter shed. Two weeks after opening, the equipment is still somewhat spartan: three new sewing machines, a few tables with pieces of fabric donated by leading French couturiers, and a few lights.
Stationed behind the central desk, a sharp-eyed Thierry doesn’t let anything slip: “Your hem is too thick. We said one centimeter maximum, we want French refinement,” he explained to one of the refugees, who hung on his words. The Parisian fashion designer was recruited by Espero to supervise and coach the tailors who, for the moment, are training so they will be ready when their first customer places an order.
“I am impressed by their technique. Some are able to assemble a shirt in two minutes, others are true experts in cutting… everyone has their strengths,” Thierry said. “My goal is for them to be operational at every workstation so that they understand how to function well as a team, so that the production line runs smoothly and harmoniously.”
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