Justine Clenquet's Play of Dualities

After launching her jewellery brand whilst still enrolled at the Paris fashion school, Duperré, French designer Justine Clenquet is now celebrating her first decade in the industry. “It all started when I was 13 years old. I used to collect old jewellery that I would work on and sold at the flea market. I always loved fashion accessories but couldn’t find what I wanted, so I made my own jewellery. Slowly the word of mouth spread out with my friends, and then a few actual customers. I wanted to create unisex jewellery for everyday looks,” she tells us.

Born from what she felt like a natural and spontaneous decision, her independent brand celebrates quality and craftsmanship above all – by handmaking all her products in her workshop in Lille, north of France, Clenquet managed to develop a relationship with local suppliers and some of the best craftsmen in all of Paris. However, quality is not the only important factor for Clenquet. “It’s important to tell a story for each collection,” she explains. “I personally choose themes that inspire me a lot like music or cinema. I am constantly vintage hunting for books. I've always been drawn to the 70s to the 90s so there are lots of elements of these decades in my collection but always with a contemporary vision.”

For her new FW20 collection, Justine has been inspired by the 1980s working culture, focusing in particular on executive women’s wardrobes. “The powerful woman plays an important part in my collections. I love to work with strong models for my campaigns and I have always been inspired by iconic women such as Wynona Ryder, Chloë Sevigny, Edie Sedgwick, Courtney Love and more.”

This Summer, the French designer is also celebrating the launch of her first-ever shoe collection. “I’m super excited as I have been willing to develop our jewellery brand into a fashion accessories brand for a while. I wanted to develop a shoe collection in the same spirit of when I started with the jewels: affordable, qualitative shoes for everyday looks. 

“I met a footwear design studio in Paris and we decided to collaborate together. It’s crucial to be surrounded by people who are shoe experts as I didn’t want to make any compromise on the comfort of the shoes. Our first shoes collection will be out exclusively on our website early July and I hope our customers will be seduced, head to toes,” she adds.

Lately, despite experiencing the COVID-19 crisis first-hand – due to cancellations coming from China within the first quarter of the year – she also experienced record sales on her website during lockdown thanks to the close community she created worldwide. In fact, according to the designer, the key to succeeding in a post-crisis world is to get closer and closer to that community because that relationship, she explains, will be more important than ever in the upcoming months and years.

It’s a close relationship like hers that, to this day, allows brands and creators to engage with people from all over the world, deeply care about each other and fight the same battles. In particular, due to recent events, Clenquet explains: “I’m deeply moved by the protests taking place all around the world against racism. I know it’s difficult to speak up as a small brand, but I feel that today more than ever, we should fight any form of racism towards minorities. It’s time to educate ourselves, make donations to anti-racism organizations and also, spread the message: BLACK LIVES MATTER!”

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