As part of our founder interview series, we speak with Caroline Zalesky from ATODE about designing a minimalist wardrobe for modern women.
ATODE is headquartered and manufactured in Marseille, France. How do you think French style has influenced the aesthetic of ATODE?
Whaou! It’s a very difficult question. For me, the French style is an effortless style with good basics and a touch of chic. This is what I want to put in ATODE. For instance, when you wake up and you don’t know what to wear so you wear a piece from ATODE and you feel chic with just a top and a pant! That’s, for me, the French style.
What were you doing before launching ATODE? When did you start to care about the sustainability and impact of your wardrobe?
Before ATODE I was working in Galeries Lafayette. I was in charge of the Marketing and Communication of the store in Marseille (a city in South of France). I started caring about the sustainability and impact of my wardrobe when I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend. I was 25 years old. At this time I cared about the food and furniture that we bought for our apartment. I decided to think similarly with my wardrobe: buying ethical clothes, made in France and in good conditions. But the problem was, at this time, that there were no clothes that fit my style: working girl. So I decided to launch my own brand, and I created ATODE.
Ethical fashion is an extremely broad topic. How do you interpret the definition of ‘ethical fashion’?
For me Ethical Fashion represents clothes made with only natural fabrics, like cotton, wool, silk… Because thinking about the fact that other fabrics are made with petrol makes me crazy. We put dangerous products in our body.
It represents clothes made in a country where the manufacturers are respected and paid well. But it’s more than just the country, it’s about taking care of the manufacturer. It’s also about buying less and choosing well. Ethical fashion is a way of life, you don’t need to have a lot of clothes, you just need to have some good clothes!
How does ATODE embody your understanding of ethical fashion?
ATODE offers a minimalist wardrobe composed of the essentials of the Working Girl Closet! We produce only 5 new products each 3 months, and each model is made with only 6 pieces per size. Collections are made with only natural fabrics like wool, cotton and silk and they are made in France.
Most of the ATODE collection is made-to-order by hand. Why did you choose this model of production?
I chose this model of production because my factories are only a 10-minute walk from my headquarters, so it’s very easy for me to visit them. Second, it’s because I don’t want to hold so much stock and produce too much. With a smaller made-to-order system, I only produce the product that people want.
It’s an ethical act!
Who do you envision wearing ATODE? Who do you design for?
For active women who care about ethics and the planet, but who also want to be fashionable too. For business women who want to be early adopters of a new way of life. Buy less, choose well.
What is the one ATODE piece that you could never live without?
The Marie pants! Before I created ATODE, I never wore « cold wool », and now, it’s like a second skin. The fact that this pant is high waisted is perfect for my silhouette, and easy to wear for a chic look or a casual look with sneakers.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to create a minimalist wardrobe?
I wrote some articles on my website to help people create the perfect capsule wardrobe. First of all, clean your wardrobe. Get rid of all the things you never wear. Second think basic or minimalist, with simple colours like black, white, blue. Only buy clothes that you are sure to wear for like 4 or 5 years.
Some natural materials that are sourced from animals – such as wool or silk- can be controversial materials. How do you defend your choice to focus your collection on these materials? And how do you ensure they are ethically sourced and manufactured?
My response can be, what about wearing chemical materials like polyester … You prefer wearing petrol instead of wool ! From the beginning of the earth, people wore natural materials and natural materials have so many good qualities: antistatic, breathable hypoallergenic… I know my suppliers and I know how they create their fabrics.
As consumers, what can we do to help create a more sustainable fashion industry?
Inform people! For me it’s the most important to inform people about the damage of fast fashion and help them consume differently. Choose natural fabrics, and local production.