Looking at recent workwear trends in menswear over the past few seasons, we see a move from the traditional corporate styles of Wall Street’s elite to the casual minimalism of Silicon Valley’s tech-bosses. From all this one thing is certain: comfort and style trumps formality. French-based menswear brand Coltesse are certainly profiting from this movement with a collection of easy-to-wear pieces that embody casual elegance. Their meticulous sourcing of fabrics paired with a minimalist approach to cut and colour provides the modern professional with an abundance of garments for their workwear wardrobe.
Tell us about the origins of Coltesse. How did the brand come to be? 
It all started with the aim of creating a shirt based on our ideals of comfort, minimalism and quality. We are passionate about fabrics and how they speak for themselves through their details and the meanings behind those details. We are essentially aiming to give casual some elegance.
You have explicitly referenced the playwright Bernard Marie Koltès as an inspiration behind the brand. How has his work specifically influenced the designs of Coltesse?
I spent four years in theatre school in Paris and that’s where I was introduced to the work of Koltès. He was a self-made man who approached playwriting from a new perspective: he had this unique talent of describing atmosphere and feeling. It was very human. I’m not sure that he is our major influence, but he definitely is a great source of inspiration. Coltesse is about creating clothes that get straight to the point in a minimalist way. That’s why it’s very important to us that the clothes are touched and seen.
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Coltesse is known for its meticulous sourcing of fabrics with the majority of its materials coming from Italy and Japan, why is this?
Japan has a lot of great machines for fabrics, they are often old and use a specific selection of rare yarns, it’s unique. Every fabric arrives with its own story and will evolve as a garment with its new owner. The best example is the indigo, denim or otherwise, whose color and seams will evolve day after day. Italy also has amazing fabrics but for different reasons, they are more classical, more noble. We choose these kinds of materials for our timeless pieces, like our next winter coat made of an Italian wool, cashmere blend.
The SS16 collection embodies a quietly cool vibe yet the clean cut aspect of the design contrasts with the earthiness of the fabrics. Does Coltesse always aspire to achieve an element of contradiction in its designs?
Coltesse is definitely about minimalism, the spirit of less is more and yes, clean cuts, but for this summer collection we wanted to create links with wild islands and big cities. For example, we have this Japanese denim jacket and pants: the fabric was bleached before cutting and sewing so we could have this particular washed effect on the fabric yet the seams remain clean. At Coltesse we try to experiment with a double-sensation effect, first when you see the product and then when you touch it.
In your opinion, how does the young professional dress nowadays? Would you say that comfort now outweighs formality when it comes to workwear?
Yes, more and more! This is the main trend that we are seeing but there is still a long way to go! Of course in our kind of industry we could be tempted to say that comfort and style comes first however most jobs still require a certain level of formality. That’s why working with fabrics and volumes can be a good way of injecting freshness into formality and thus lead to new trends. Anyway, menswear changes a lot and fast so the coming years are pretty exciting!
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Why do you think the brand has found such success in Asia? How does the Asian market differ to the European market in your opinion?
Japan is the most demanding market in terms of quality, if you can work with them, you can work with any market. They are also way more open to different styles. Our collection sold fast in Japan and now we are expanding to the rest of Asia. I can’t really explain our success here, maybe it’s due to the fact that we put a French touch into minimalism. I find that the Asian market tends to adopt foreign brands really quickly.
What can our readers expect from Coltesse over the next few seasons?
We will be working more and more on the details, quality and fabric sourcing. Storytelling is also something we would like to develop further and through multiple mediums, like video. We will push our styles to the next level, all the while maintaining Coltesse’s ideals above all. Check our website and new collection next September to see what we are talking about.
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