Larose Paris started as a project between Isaac Larose and Marc Beaugé. They have completely different backgrounds –Isaac is a night event planner, Marc is a journalist– but they shared an idea: creating a quality product that would bring together modernism and classicism. We talked with the team to discover how they turned a project into a perfectly established brand known all around the globe.
Larose Paris started five years ago, but you live in different countries. How did you meet, and how do you manage to work together? 
We met five years ago in Paris by way of mutual friends, and immediately clicked; we shared interests in arts, culture, architecture... And we both wanted to create something. A few days after meeting, we said, “Why don’t we try to make a product? And do it well, if possible.” So we decided to write three ideas each on a piece of paper, and do it if there was one in common. It turned out that we had one shared idea: smart caps that you could wear with a suit, and made in France. So we went for it. That was five years ago and we could never have imagined the brand would be sold in 70 stores all over the world.
Isaac lived in Paris for a while and he is now based in Canada, but he comes over very often. Communication is pretty easy: mails, Skype, messages… it’s never a problem. And I (Marc) wake up very early, when it’s late evening in Canada, so we can talk for a few hours before Isaac goes to bed and I go to work.
You started with camp caps and quickly added more classical styles. Is this a result of your personal style progression? I find the mix of sportive and dressed up really appealing.
Probably yes. When we started, we asked ourselves, “What do we want to do, in terms of design and aesthetic?” Our target was always to find the right balance between classicism and modernism. I am a traditionalist, but I believe that a brand needs to bring something new – you can’t just look at the archives and reproduce the pieces you like. You can’t make clothes ignoring the time you live in. Behind the word “mode” (french for “fashion”) there is “modern” and “modernism.” So you have to innovate in a way or another. Thankfully, Isaac is more of a modernist and we just had to find the right balance for our first collection. Five years later, the exercise is still the same: finding the balance between classicism and modernism. It may happen by using classic tailoring fabrics –or an unexpected one like burlap– on a modern hat shape. Or by adding a zip on an iconic hat style. Or by playing with eyelets. But never too much, and never at the expense of quality. We want to make hats that last for years. So the quality needs to be perfect and the design needs to resist the test of time.
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For a brand focused on an accessory like a hat, are there any particular challenges? 
Being focused on one single type of product is a tough position, because it obviously reduces your market. And if the piece you have chosen goes out of style, you are in trouble. That’s why our aim is to go as far as possible into headwear: we started with camp caps and now we do classic hats, beanies, berets… We have to cover all the needs for headwear. Staying as a one-product-brand is really important to us; it really is a choice. We like specialists and artisans, and if it is hard enough to make one perfect product, imagine 20!
Aside from seasonal collections, you work on a lot of collaborations with other designers. Some of the most recent are with Post Imperial and Wanda Nylon. How do they happen? It is something you actively search, or it is more of a natural process?
It is a very natural process; all collaborations we have done often came from chance meetings. Wanda Nylon, we met her in a bar. Post Imperial, he was always next to us during trade shows. We talk, we click, we look for an idea. It’s very natural and it usually goes smoothly. For us collaborations are a way of bringing new ideas, new styles into our collections. Wanda Nylon style is very different from Larose DNA, and it is the same with Post Imperial. But we like to give them a lot of freedom to create hats with us. We usually give them the lead, as we are happy broadening our style. For us it is also a way, obviously, of getting good communication.
The expert craftsmanship and the process of research and selection of the fabrics are key factors for the brand. Do you think the result is a high-end product?
I don’t really like the word luxury, it sounds kind of cheap to me. I prefer artisanal product, or just well made product. Collection after collection we always try to improve small details here and there. The shape of the brim, the height of ribbon, the lining, the position of the care label… Behind what looks like a simple garment there are dozens of decisions to make. Since the start of the brand we work exclusively with a French factory that has been making hats for 60 years. They’ve received the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant distinction, which is a label that recognizes and helps keeping exceptional French craftsmanship alive. Every decision we take about the garments, we ask them, “Have you already experienced this? Do you know what is the best way to do it?” They helped us find the right hatpin, the right shape, the right closing system, the right place to put it. Their help is precious.
“Five years later, the exercise is still the same: finding the balance between classicism and modernism.”
Your hats are currently sold in 15 stores in Japan; do you think this country has a greater appreciation for a product based on craftsmanship? Do you have any special connection with it?
Japanese people are very fond of traditional products, local production and authentic pieces. They look for a smart compromise between a well made and a cool product. And that has always been our target, right from the start. So we do well there. Japanese people are very receptive with our style. We design in Paris and we produce in the south of France, so that French thing plays a big part in our success there. But to do well in Japan also requires a lot of effort. There are a lot of administrative documents to fill. They are really careful about the composition of the product, the origins, and the safety issues. It’s not easy working there. You can’t just go with a French product and sell millions – there you need to work hard. And you also have to understand the different anatomy. In our case, Japanese people tend to have a bigger head size compared to our country. We actually needed one or two seasons to realize it!
What you started as a project has taken you really far. Where would you like to see Larose Paris in the next five years?
We honestly don’t want to conquer the world with an “it” product. We want to last for a long time and improve season after season. We want people to trust us and find our product beautiful and honest. We work exclusively with one factory and that makes it easier to develop new products and improve their quality. The factory is based in Caussade and it has been doing hats for Saint Laurent and Comme des Garçons for decades; they know how to make the perfect product. We also care about the way people at the factory are treated and hopefully, as the brand grows, we won’t forget that.
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