As inspired as Ines Bourgeois is by photography, coffee table books and simple aesthetics, she is equally obsessed with Pinterest and Tumblr. Creating from her mixed roots of part Belgian and part Spanish, Ines likes the simplicity of pure, sober aesthetics on one hand and is attracted to a bohemian vibe and warm colours on the other.
Her ethic reflects strongly in her innovative creation and design for longevity. What started as constructing one prototype during quarantine, grew into a new age luxury brand.
Ines shares her love for fashion, her hope of resetting the industry's standard, and connection with mediterranean aesthetics, as she tells us about what she envisions and her journey so far.
Love the name Les Izmoor and the philosophy behind it! How did you start?
There was something about the industry that didn’t quite fit for me. There was so much happening in e-commerce and digital marketing on one hand and on the other, the terrible impact of the pandemic on the fashion industry. The financial distress of suppliers, thousands of brands wanting to sell their stock, an overwhelming time for consumers, and the overall impact fashion had on the environment, it just didn't make sense.
I have always known that I wanted to be in fashion, but I didn't want to create just any collection with numerous designs. And so it had to be on the lines of versatility - fluid and flexible. I realised that the best pieces I have are the ones I end up wearing most often.
So during quarantine I took out my sewing machine and put a prototype together. I haven't done any fashion design but I have done something in school. I took the help of a friend to make it look better, and that's how it started.
"Fashion should be anything but disposable."
What is the brand promise? What makes Les Izmoor unique?
One size adapts to different bodies! It was challenging, and it took 15 prototypes when I started in March 2020, making it better with each iteration. And so Garment 01 was born. The beauty of the garment
is that you can make it your own. We are still discovering new ways of styling it and we also love to hear from customers about new different ways in which they wear the garment.
It is a unique way to purchase and produce, with more reason. There is no 'add to cart' button on the e-commerce platform, only pre-order. And there will only be one design every season. We partner with sustainable suppliers, the pre-order model ensures fair price to the artisans and customers, and it ensures no wastage. I like the purity of simplicity, and the essence of Les Izmoor is just that; It is a reflective way in buying and choosing only garments destined to last, without size and without time. The pandemic gave everyone time to assess their choices and I believe we are moving into a more conscious way of living, with purity and simplicity at the core.
For an ethical brand that stands for luxury at a fair price, what has been your biggest challenge?
The two biggest challenges were to find suppliers we could trust and who would comply with the brand guidelines. For eg, complying with the timeline for production and delivery because we are a pre-order model and each step of the way is communicated to the customers.
The second was making consumers understand the pre-order model. My concern was whether people will be ready to pre-order and wait, but I see mindsets changing around that. There is a pleasure in waiting. Communication and visibility around that was a challenge. We used recycled polyester crepe for the first garment which is sustainable, easy to use and doesn't get crinkled. Not everyone is aware of that and they have different reactions. It is interesting to take people’s reactions into consideration. At the end of the day the most important relationships are with your supplier and customer.
"Initially my concern was if people are ready to pre-order and wait. But I see mindsets changing. There is a pleasure in waiting."
What is your mission with the brand?
Whether it is freedom from rigid shapes and excess, or supporting a global not-for-profit organisation (Dress for Success) that helps women achieve economic independence, the ultimate mission is to empower women, build strength and hope to create a new future.
We are not here to pretend that we are a perfectly sustainable brand, but we keep learning and continue to make improvements. We are here to minimize our impact as a company and to lead by example as individuals. We are here to make long-lasting garments in a transparent, open and ethical way.
We are on a journey of perfecting design by making it simple, yet versatile. Minimalist, yet full of possibilities. We are adapting our supply-chain processes to reach a zero-waste production. But most importantly, we are not afraid to ask questions.
“Good things take time and we believe that real sustainability comes from small continuous improvements.”
What is your idea of Luxury? Where do you believe fashion and luxury is heading?
When I was younger I thought it was something exclusive, a special feeling. Now, it is less about exclusivity and more about precision. A luxurious product has quality at its core, and is an investment of time because of the craftsmanship that goes into achieving that precision. Time and simplicity are true luxuries and there is a flavour of solidarity that comes from that.
We are definitely more aware and open to educating ourselves on better choices, and the industry is adapting and evolving. The fashion industry might not be perfect but the more we are open about our practices, the more responsible we are for our actions. Technology helps in enabling transparency, which is the first step towards sustainability. Not just that, historically clothes were made to last. Choosing to love and take care of our wardrobe is crucial in bringing about a societal change. Today it is no longer a choice but an urgency to rethink how we do business, how we consume, to bring about cultural change.
Ines lives in Milan, enjoys discovering new galleries and second-hand design shops. As an entrepreneur she believes in the importance of allowing time to herself and indulges in rituals like getting fresh flowers every week, listening to her favourite bossa nova playlists in the evening, and spending time at home which has a minimal aesthetic, but each piece being carefully curated.