Though famous for it’s incredible food the city of Lyon in France is also responsible for one or Proper’s favourite clothing labels, Arpenteur. Their beautiful garments and heart-warming artwork had us charmed from day one and continue to enthral and impress us with each season. So given the current chaos in the world what better time for a bit of soothing gallic gossip with the co-founder of this phenomenal French brand Marc Asseily.
Proper: Hi Marc, how are you (and Laurent) and how’s the lockdown situation in France at the moment?
Marc: Pretty good. Laurent and myself never stopped working. The situation seems like it’s getting better. People are going out in the parks and shops re-opened.
How do you think social distancing has affected the French as a nation?
It is a bit hard to tell to be honest. The reactions have been so diverse. But here is something new. France is traditionally a eat-in nation, right? Because restaurants had to start working again but eating in is still forbidden, a lot of them started doing takeaways which they never did before. It means that we can now eat out new types of quality food for quite cheap, sitting by the river, in public squares etc. Any type of cuisine, foreign but also traditional french « plats du jour » (daily dishes) which was unthinkable before.
How has the pandemic affected the running of Arpenteur?
Not much changed to be honest. Laurent and myself never stopped working at the studio. Our employees decided to come back to work only a week after the lockdown started. All the Arpenteur products are made locally, in the factories close by so we had no big trouble with air freight. Most of what we do here is DIY so we could still take pictures in the studio and work on new prototypes in the workshop.
What about you personally? How has lockdown changed your day to day life?
I have been working everyday as usual. I spent more time at home reading and looking for new music. It was also possible to keep on training but the rule said we had to remain in a 1km from home radius. This made me realize how boring are the residential areas surrounding my neighborhood.
The new season’s collection is another triumph, I particularly love the hand dyed Bob bucket hat you’ve done. Are you aware that this is possibly the most Mancunican hat ever made?
Thank you! Haha I think I see what you mean. I suppose it is not by chance since Laurent and myself spent the 2000’s listening to a lot of 80’s/90’s UK guitar bands and dance music.
Those Safari shoes you did with Paraboot are pretty incredible too, are there any further collabs planned for Arpenteur?
Thank you! Yes the Paraboot collaboration is going on. New makeups of the Cambriole shoe and a new rugged slip on boot are coming next fall. There is more in the works for the future seasons too. We also have made a batch of fun printed products for 1LDK in Japan. They should be released within a few weeks. There is also our joint label with Sweetu Patel from C’H’C’M’ in New-York. A new capsule should come out at some point.
We really love Regric’s artwork for Arpenteur, has he been busy in the studio creating some new work for you guys during the lockdown?
Thank you! We are releasing new color ways of our Modèle 01. sunglasses this week. So Régric did a color version of the accompanying comic strip. It now comes as a free poster with the glasses. Besides that, I know that he has been busy working on the Lefranc series. He told me that the lockdown didn’t change much for him. Being a Comic artist is a dedicated indoor lifestyle anyway is what he said!
I know you’re often inspired by vintage items of clothing are there any particular items or specific eras that you’ve been particularly drawn to recently?
We have been looking at seventies and eighties sportswear as inspirations, old tennis gear, old Ventex and the like.
How does the future look for Arpenteur?I hope we can expand our world through clothing and also funny objects and prints. We are fully independent so it is always a challenge.
As we’re still stuck indoors can you recommend any French fims/music/recipes to keep us entertained whilst we await our freedom?
The French films I watched recently are « Pickpocket » by Robert Bresson and « Les choses de la Vie » by Claude Sautet. Les choses de la vie, the soundtrack by Philippe Sarde is beautiful and spring is a nice time to listen again to Troupeau Bleu by Cortex. Sorry I am not the right person to ask for recipes. The only French things I can cook are Pommes de terre sautées and omelette.