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What makes a home comfortable? Maxime Fruit has spent a lot of time pondering this question and hopes to present his findings to the fashion world. The French-born London-based designer is an alum of some of the decade’s most influential houses and has now established his eponymous brand. MAXIME’s recent collection, The Escape, takes us to the English countryside. Filmed in a 16th-century oak farmhouse, the collection’s intimate video campaign reveals both its softness and luxurious touches. Wherever you go, home can remain with you.

Although he has travelled and moved around the world extensively, Maxime Fruit has always managed to find something tranquil and serene. For him, home is portable, more of a feeling than a place. The designer has worked with a set of luxury streetwear brands on the production side of things for years. In these roles, he developed a rich understanding of global fashion production and his network. Yet, although loose silhouettes and wearability are priorities for the designer, he is not doing streetwear anymore. MAXIME’s current approach is uniquely informed by furniture fabrication; his garments even use stitching techniques that recall this medium. His silhouettes are simple and elegant but feature elaborate detailing; within their sparseness, luxurious materials and finishes are even more apparent.

MAXIME releases just two collections a year, a slower pace than the global fashion week schedule demands. Fruit’s goal is to produce more sustainably, combating overproduction and allowing his teams to ensure high-quality brand standards. MAXIME exclusively manufactures in France, Italy and Portugal, using some of the same suppliers as the world’s most prestigious luxury houses. We talk to the designer about his fashion background, approach to design and thoughts on home.

Could you please introduce yourself and tell me a bit about your brand?
I graduated from Mod-Art International in Paris with a degree in Fashion, Luxury and Art de Vivre Management in 2013, and went on to work in product development and production for Damir Doma, Vetements, Yang-Li and now A-Cold-Wall*, where I am Head of Production.
After putting in the work for the past 10 years, multiplying my experiences and building up a vast supply chain network, I've decided it was time to launch my own brand, MAXIME, in early 2021. The main premise of each edition, which is what we call our collections, is to explore the many elements that make up a home – the feelings of serenity, comfort and security that one provides – whilst translating unified design principles from architecture, interior and furniture design into wearable garments.
Tell me a bit about your design background. Which experiences have defined your approach to design?
I’ve always been very supported by my parents from a young age – they exposed me to the arts and encouraged me to have an open mind. Paris has such a rich culture and growing up in this space was incredibly inspiring. It was my mum who introduced me to iconic designers who’ve shaped the history of fashion. I’ve always appreciated this sensitivity, and my interest in fashion and design flourished from then on in.
In my professional experiences, I’ve always worked in small to medium-sized companies, which allowed me to work very closely with the design teams and build a solid knowledge of the design process. This process is what I’ve become most drawn to – something I can create and also execute.
You have said that your collections explore the elements and emotions that compose and are provoked by a home. What informs your relationship with home? Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Saint-Maxime in the south of France, before moving to Paris at the age of 11 until I was 22, and I lived in New York for a short while before moving to London 7 years ago. I had the opportunity to live in different cities and discover different cultures. However, I always managed to create my own safe place that I call home.
With MAXIME, I want to re-create that feeling and make people feel at home wherever they go. I’ve had the chance to travel around the world, yet even though I’ve enjoyed many great places, being back home is a feeling like no other. This is why most of the silhouettes have a relaxed fit and are made from luxurious materials, to emulate the physical comfort of your own home that will bring you mental comfort wherever you go.

The video for Edition 4 is quite accomplished. The shaky, searching camera work seems to really reflect the feeling of the collection. How did this project come about?
Thanks a lot! We worked on the video with my long-time friend Zach Rofe. We wanted something that feels real and authentic, that’s why we decided to shoot it with the camera in hand and from a distance, almost like a butterfly from the meadow outside following us around. It was important to us to keep this innocent and curious eye to reflect the softness and sophistication of the collection.
Tell me about the logo. It is such a distinctive geometry and appears in many forms and emblems – even as an object in some collections.
For the MAXIME universe, I wanted to create a symbolic logo that would be instantly recognisable wherever you’re from. We came up with a simplistic and minimal house shape in line with the brand’s aesthetic. The red colour outline is a homage to the interior design world. Most of the furniture brands I adore use the exact red colour, for example, to mark key elements on their labels – like a sign of approval.
How do you approach the tees and hoodies from your collections? Coming from a background of streetwear-grounded brands, and founding your own brand with a slightly different tack, how do you approach these sartorial staples?
I approach jersey differently than in streetwear design by adding more layers to the techniques, construction and materials chosen. For Edition 3, we slashed a t-shirt into twenty-six pattern pieces to recreate the visual effect of recycled compressed wood. Other jersey pieces had a hand-applied treatment mimicking the texture of a tree trunk, making each piece unique. Our key jersey styles of Edition 4, the Horses Love T-shirt and hoodie, have a digitally printed photograph on canvas, almost like an artist's toile, applied onto the body with a blanket stitch. This is a common stitching technique you can find in the interior or furniture design.

Each of your collections seems to present a distilled and cogent colour approach, featuring many natural hues and subtle shades. What informs this aspect of a collection?
I’ve always been fascinated by colours and how they can define a mood, an atmosphere, a feeling - it’s very important to me. I spend a lot of time doing colour research during the creation process to ensure they would transport the message I’m trying to communicate.
Your footwear merges more formal materials and silhouettes with technical sports and workwear soles. How do you see the shoes as a component of a collection?
It was very important for me to have our own footwear from the very beginning in order to express a coherent creative vision of the full MAXIME silhouette: modern and sophisticated, yet comfortable. The aim was to create a hybrid between an elegant shoe and a comfortable sneaker. For the leathers, we work with French and Italian tanneries that work with brands like Hermès.
Tell me a bit about your creative process. Where do you begin with a project?
Fabrics. Always fabrics first. It’s my main source of inspiration, they then help me to define each edition’s overall aesthetic and move forward to designing the collection.

You only release in editions, working at a slower pace than the current fashion calendar sets. Why is this?
We don’t believe in overproducing, so we’ve committed to releasing a maximum of two collections per year. We understand this will be more difficult to navigate as the brand grows and evolves, but constraints birth creativity and we're excited to see which solutions we’ll come up with in the future. It’s also one of the reasons we mainly use existing fabrics from our suppliers and manufacturers in France, Italy, and Portugal. Edition 4 is made up of ninety per cent of the existing fabric.
Each piece has a unique hand-stamped serial number on the brand label to make the customer appreciate the true value of the product, similar to the serial numbers you can find on rare furniture or design objects.
Your work features a paired-back approach to tailoring. Yet your simple silhouettes are complicated by rich material detailing, highly elaborate stitching and fabrics. How do you maintain a clean look when working between these two sensibilities?
As I mentioned previously, fabrics have an important place in my creative journey, hence why it’s vital to give a space for fabrics to exist through minimal designs. However, I want to make sure this MAXIME clean minimal silhouette is accompanied by intricate detailing and generous materials to give a certain richness to the products. It’s about finding the right balance and not overcomplicating or over-designing the pieces.
You were featured as a part of Pitti Uomo's Spring/Summer 2023 Sustainability Style showcase. Where did your brand fit into their program?
We were invited to Pitti Uomo by Giorgia Cantarini as part of a curated panel of brands with responsible design at their core. A big majority of our fabrics are sourced from existing stocks from high-end suppliers and factories. In addition, we only produce in France, Italy and Portugal to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible when sourcing all our raw materials. In the end, what we are trying to do is to create garments that will last through generations, which is why we’re putting such a big emphasis on quality over quantity.
What is next for MAXIME?
We’ve started to work on Edition 5, there is an upcoming project with an artist and we’re also developing home objects for the next editions to come.

Isaac Crown Manesis

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