Sheltersuit is AZ Factory’s latest “Amigo” guest


Heartily exalting its philosophy of purposeful creativity, AZ Factory collaborates with fashion designer Bas Timmer and his Sheltersuit Foundation, which provides homeless people with gear to protect them from the elements.

Later this month, Net-a-porter will begin selling a range of small bags and backpacks, each of which will fund a Shelterbag to be donated by local non-governmental organizations to someone in need.

No more WWD

Disclosing the project exclusively to WWD, Richemont executive Mauro Grimaldi suggested that the holiday collaboration with the Dutch charity could become a permanent side project as AZ Factory’s strategy crystallizes.

“You buy a present for a friend and you give something to someone you don’t know, who is in need… We love the idea,” Grimaldi said in an interview.

After completing five “product stories” in 2022, all of which were collaborations, next year AZ Factory will unveil a mix of repeat collaborations, surprise guests for the Paris Fashion Week and Couture Week shows. , as well as pre-collections from AZ Factory. team, whose members were all handpicked by the late founder Alber Elbaz.

The affable designer, who rose to international fame during a 14-year tenure at Lanvin, died of COVID-19 in April 2021, spawning a strategy of serial collaborations within the fashion start-up, a joint venture with Compagnie Financière Richemont.

Since joining AZ Factory in January, Grimaldi, strategic advisor to Philippe Fortunato, managing director of Richemont Fashion and Accessories Houses, has met around 60 design talents, evaluating proposals based on market potential, complicity and alignment with the brand. mission of “intelligent modes that care”.

“We’ve experimented a lot over the last year and we’ve set the tempo a bit for 2023,” he said. “So, step by step, we’re going to build an offer that will kind of become a base for our core offer.”

AZ Factory launched its “guest amigo” program in March with South African designer Thebe Magugu, then followed with “stories” of products by size-inclusive brand Ester Manas and Lutz Huelle, a staple of Fashion Week from Paris since 2000, and the first seasoned talent to create a collection “with” AZ Factory. (The brand prefers to say “with” rather than “for” to evoke its approach based on friendship.)

In July, he teased his approach to tailoring for Millennials and Gen Z by inviting recent fashion graduate Cyril Bourez to create 35 unique looks by interpreting iconic and glamorous Elbaz designs via upcycled vintage Americana: Hawaiian shirts, sports jerseys and the Like.

Citing a strong reaction to the Bourez collection, which has nearly sold out, Grimaldi said AZ Factory now offers a “made to order” service in which a customer’s favorite garment can be matched with design flourishes for which Elbaz was known.

Grimaldi said he hopes to unveil his permanent and guest collaborators at the 2023 summit, when another “absolute newbie” will be enlisted to create a January Couture Week project relevant to new generations.

He touted that all AZ Factory guest talent learn essential knowledge about creating, merchandising and marketing a collection, skills essential to building a viable fashion business.

Richemont presents AZ Factory as a platform for independent creativity, and which offers advantages analogous in some respects to fashion prices, including financial support, but also access to a design studio, a workshop, a muscle marketing and communication channels.

“They come here with an idea and they meet some of the best professionals on the market,” he enthuses. “We teach them how to turn an inspiration into a business.”

Bas Timmer at work at AZ Factory.

Bas Timmer at work at AZ Factory.

After meeting with Timmer, the AZ Factory design team unearthed leather and silk to create the utility bags, which will retail from around $180 for a mini zip pouch, up to around $650. for a backpack in a mix of animal prints.

Made from recycled materials, a Sheltersuit is a waterproof and windproof jacket that can easily be transformed into a sleeping bag. A Shelterbag is a portable, sheltered bed that rolls into a bag.

The non-profit organization has already distributed more than 20,000 products.

Grimaldi noted that AZ Factory will also donate to the Sheltersuit Foundation, which in 2021 collaborated with Richemont-owned Chloé.

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