Meeting with Gaëlle Berlioz
Artistic Director, outdoor fashion specialist and yogist.
Gaëlle lives in Chambéry. She tells us about the origin of her passion for outdoor fashion, her green lifestyle and how she sees her job in a changing textile industry.
Where does your interest in outdoor fashion come from?
I come from a family that has always done a lot of sports. My parents were not high-level champions, but jacks-of-all-trades, who practiced rock climbing, cross-country skiing, glacier hiking... Sport has always been anchored in the family culture. At Christmas, for example, we received sports equipment! The state-of-the-art ski jacket was the ultimate gift, but it could also be a wetsuit, a pair of hiking boots. In short, there was under the tree only the latest technical clothing that had just come out. Without a doubt, my culture for outdoor fashion comes from there. And it was naturally, as I also loved to draw, that I decided to make it my job by becoming artistic director. After studying applied art, fashion design and graphic design, I joined a trend office, Promostyl, to work on sports trends. I spent 8 years there. They were very good years. I had the opportunity to work with great brands. Until the day when my green conscience caught up with me… and I decided to stop everything!
What did you blame in the middle of fashion?
Produce to produce, always more. I was fed up with this industry, which is one of the most polluting on the planet. I had a sense of waste. I couldn't find myself there anymore.
And yet you came back?
Yes but differently! Today I work with brands that share my values and want to move the lines by being more responsible and more human, like Spiridon. My daily mission now is to answer this question: how can we continue to produce in a clean way without drawing on our resources? It is exciting. For me, you can't go outdoors without being concerned about environmental issues. You cannot pollute your own playground.
What exactly is your mission for Spiridon?
My role is to find the right style directions, the right material sourcing, the right production teams with regard to Spiridon's human and ecological values. Right now, I'm looking for new, more sustainable fibers; I source recycled, recyclable and even compostable textiles that are at the same time of high technical quality. It's super challenging and very exciting to say to yourself that you are participating in a paradigm shift in the way of producing. And it's great to do so for Spiridon, which already has a very beautiful universe, a strong identity, a historic commitment to women, to diversity... All of this makes so much sense! And I am convinced that we are only at the very beginning of the adventure. We are going to do great things very committed ecologically and humanly for Spiridon
Is the environment a subject that has been on your mind for a long time?
Always ! From my education first. I grew up and I live in Savoie. When you have such a playground available, you want to protect it. Anyway, that's how I was raised by my parents and even my grandparents. When I was a child and went on a trek, my father taught me not to leave anything in our path, he taught me to observe nature, the need to respect and protect it. In my daily life, I am quite intransigent on the issue! I never buy plastic bottles - I always have my water bottle - I refuse coffee capsules, I try to move towards zero waste…. So of course I want to work with people who share this vision.
From your experience, you have a great knowledge of brands. Which ones inspire you?
My model remains Patagonia. I think that Yvon Chouinard, its founder, was truly a visionary, a pioneer. Not only in its “ecological” approach to the outdoors but also in its vision of human relationships. His book Let my people go surfing , which explained the confidence he had in his team, is magical. Many boxes deserve to be inspired by it today! For me, human values are as important as environmental values. And that's also why I joined Spiridon.
You are passionate about sport, its clothes and its history. And you, are you athletic?
I practice Ashtanga Yoga. I did a retreat in India to do my Ashtanga diploma, after my departure from Promostyl. Finally my meeting with Spiridon made me come back to fashion, but I continue to practice daily and it helps me enormously in my everyday life, both at home (I have 2-year-old twins) and professionally. I draw incredible strength from it. Thanks to yoga, I know my limits, I know how to fall asleep (laughs), I know how to calm my mind, I know how to listen to my body. It's precious!
For the rest, I'm a jack-of-all-trades! As I love nature, I practice lots of outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, stand up paddle, ski touring… But I don't compete, I don't seek performance. I do sports just for fun, like the Spiridonians! I also really like this idea of pleasure in the Spiridon philosophy. I find myself there perfectly.