MaisonCléo was born from the collaboration of Marie Dewet and her mother Cléo. This Lille-based brand's love for handmade clothing and authenticity led them to start this brand that doesn’t follow any fashion calendar nor trend. They have a vivid desire to make sustainability more accessible within the industry. With a made-to-order system, MaisonCléo is a fashion label committed to using only leftovers based on their quality. Above personal contributions, Marie truly thinks these goals have to be achieved collectively and supported by governments.
Sustainability should be the number one concern for everyone. Besides having considerable impacts on our lives, environmental damages can also lead to important social consequences. An aspect that the new generation is well aware of and Marie hopes this will initiate change within the fashion industry.
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 15.jpg
After working for the well-known reseller platform Vestiaire Collective, what motivated you to create your own label?
I was hired by Vestiaire Collective in summer 2017, that was the same moment I created and began MaisonCléo. It was very cool because my working hours were 6am to 2pm, so it's like I had two working days in one and I could work on my personal project every afternoon to let it grow. So my brand grew at the same time and I had to quit Vestiaire 3 years after because my brand took too much place. It was in April 2020 and now almost a year ago that I have a team of ten people working with me.
How you would define the aesthetic of MaisonCléo?
Authentic, because we really do all this with love and everything is handmade-to-order by us, it’s not made in factories but made at home or at our studio. Organic because I don’t make anything at all, everything comes how it comes, we don’t want to be stressed by anything and just want to make what we want and I think it translates through the pieces we make in the way there is no particular style at all.
No collection, no specific colours… We only buy from leftovers so never know by advance what we will be able to find in terms of fabrics and I love every kind of style and every kind of colour. I would also say quality, in the way I take care of all the fabrics I can find. Our favourite material is silk and this upcoming summer I want to introduce cashmere knitted pieces. Also, every piece is made-to-order so can be custom made into anyone’s own measurements.
MaisonCléo is aimed to make sustainable and handmade clothes more accessible, do you think these two aspects are today too often forgotten in favour of cheapest and ephemeral garments?
It is, but for me, it’s not entirely people's fault. We can’t blame the majority of people who buy fast fashion to buy it. After all, our governments are not talking about the terrible repercussions of this system on our planet. Do children learn at school that fashion is the second polluter of the planet and what this involves? No. There is a real problem about this because so much money is involved that governments won’t talk about this.
Thanks to the younger generations who are really concerned about these subjects, more and more sustainable brands are popping up since the 2 last years, and I hope they will teach the importance of consuming fashion better to the maximum of people they can, as I do to my family, because as I said we won’t be helped by our governments.
“When I buy from a brand, I don’t want to only buy a piece of clothing but the story behind it: the designer, its roots and so on. I want to buy what it represents – a sort of a soul.”
One of your designs has been ripped by a famous fast-fashion company, how did you feel about it?
In the beginning, I felt very bad about this. Now I find this so ridiculous. It means there are people who are just looking at what the 'famous' designers make and replicate everything that sells fast. How sad and ridiculous is that? Also, we can’t do anything because the laws are so different from country to country. If they are still normalising rip-offs, these kinds of phenomenons will not stop. If people buy these fake products, they will receive a polyester blouse made by underpaid-workers, so, in the end, that is simply not the same piece of clothing at all and there is nothing to be proud of.
Your pieces are made from leftovers materials and are handcrafted. Besides your own contribution to make fashion more sustainable and avoid fast fashion, what do you think need to be done to reduce the environmental impacts this industry has on the planet?
I think every country should take this point very seriously. I will talk about France because this is the one I know best. Why have all the French sewing companies closed these past few years? Why are all the French designers delocalising their production?
Well, there are two main reasons: the taxes we have in France are very heavy and it discourages everyone who would like to create a fashion brand. There are taxes for everything. The more you sell, the more you have to pay for taxes. France employees' charges are the most expensive in Europe. The second reason is that you cannot produce a lot of quantities in France because of state restrictions. So, most of the factories closed years ago, one by one, because people chose to delocalise at the time to get cheaper clothes made in other countries.
So, basically, what needs to be done is that governments must help local companies to work and expand in their own country and invest in factories to re-open them. We need to talk more about these fashion handicraft jobs possibilities among young people and students.
The craftsmanship positions are not highlighted either glorified so these skills keep disappearing. The quantity of production and numbers of collections should also be controlled for each fashion company to avoid overproduction producing. The point is to avoid waste and environmental consequences. It’s not normal to legalise this in 2021 when we now know what all the consequences are. 
More than environmental consequences, fast fashion also has social repercussions. Is it something you think is crucial to mention while talking about this topic?
Of course, for me, the social impacts are as important as the environmental ones. I think with the younger generations, these things will get better because they really take care of who made their clothes and want to see all the aspects of a brand before buying. This is also true for the food industry for instance. A piece of clothing – or whatever – can’t be made ethically if the social aspects are not respected.
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine.jpg
Because of globalisation, when you start your label you realise that a few brands were producing their items in France. Why is French-made important to you and how do you celebrate it through your own practice?
French-made is important for me and my brand because I’m based in France. It’s the local-made that is important to me. If I were to buy from a Chinese brand, it would be total nonsense. If it were made in Australia or if I were to buy from a Portuguese brand, it would also be total nonsense. When I buy from a brand, I don’t want to only buy a piece of clothing but the story behind it: the designer, its roots and so on. I want to buy what it represents – a sort of a soul.
It’s also so important to support handcraft from every country. Each country has its own skills and we have to celebrate that. In Calais, where I come from, there is now only one lace factory left. Calais lace is the most famous lace in the world and it is now, for the most part, being delocalised. There were a dozen before, I feel like a whole part of history is gone and it’s just horrible and heart-breaking. We have to fight for the survival of these practices.
France has a long history in fashion. This heritage can make changes and evolutions very hard to settle as we need to conform to the established norms. Do you feel the industry in this country can evolve and embrace a more emerging approach that is freer and more ethical?
I think we need the help of French established designers. There are a lot of French designers who produced their first collections in France but now that they have grown, they delocalise everything abroad because they want to produce more. That is the opposite of what we must do. It’s not possible to produce locally because they are limited in terms of production and employees. Hence, we have to invest in these companies and trained them to re-develop it. Not to just say “Ok, so I will produce abroad.” It’s too simple and really stupid for me. So the industry in France can evolve, however, French established companies have to contribute to it.
By following an ethic in terms of production, do you think you would need to remain a small label to avoid mass production processes?
To me, production depends on demands, that’s why we only make our pieces according to the order. That’s just logic. I hired my first knitter last September, she can make approximately eight knitted pieces per week. We saw more people wanted to order knitted pieces so I just hired another knitter and a third knitter will join us next week as well. So it’s not that I will 'avoid mass production processes,' but I will follow what our customers ask us.
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 17.jpg
When we look at your designs, we feel that they are meant to embrace women’s bodies – often in a very sensual way. To you, why it is important to celebrate body shapes through sensuality?
I am in love with women's bodies. I have a lot of women's bodies put on all the walls in my apartment and studio. For me, there is nothing more beautiful than this so I love the possibility I have with clothes to be able to sublimate it and to suggest a bit because we have to be proud of our bodies and what we are.
2020 was very challenging for a lot of small labels, how did you go through this unprecedented period?
For us as a business, March 2020 (the beginning of the first lockdown in France) is the month in which our brand popped up. This month we had to hire more seamstresses to at least double our capacity. The demand was so important that our website – which usually closed 10 or 15 minutes after its weekly opening only took half a minute at this time. I think it’s because people had nothing to do and couldn't go out or work that they had all the time to be on their computer, thus online. For us, it marks the peak of interest in our brand. We do not have physical stores and we are not producing in factories but at home, so production was clearly less impacted by the pandemic.
Now that we are in 2021 and we still have to deal with this crisis, do you have any projects and hopes for the months to come?
I am sure it will continue to get better with our brand but the only thing I wish and hope now is not about the brand at all. It is more about our personal lives. We, and especially I, need more than ever to hug my family and go out with my friends and celebrate and party with my loved ones. That’s all I am thinking about!
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 2.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 5.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 6.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 3.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 4.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 1.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 8.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 19 .jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 9.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 10.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 11.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 12.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 14.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 16.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 18.jpg
Maison Cleo Metalmagazine 19.jpg