MEETING WITH GAELLE BERLIOZ
Artistic director, partner, 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 shoes. 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 “green” 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 a lot in my everyday life, both family (I have 2 year old twins) and professional. 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.
MEETING WITH SEBASTIEN RAFFIN
Model maker, partner and nature racing enthusiast
Sébastien is a model maker and associated with Spiridon.
He lives in Annecy. He tells us about the origin of his passion for running, his fondest running memory, and how he imagines trail running in the next world.
Running and you, it's a story that lasts since when?
Always ! My father was running. It was he who introduced us to this practice, my brothers and me. He was part of a Club Spiridon in Savoie with which he took part in hill climbs, in the resort. We called it “nature races”. After the adult events, there was always a course for the children; with my brothers we went there. We were 8-10 years old, we were doing our 800 m, our 1.5 km. And we loved that! Then I did a lot of handball (until National 3 with Aix-Les-Bains), and I spent less time racing. But when you have the basics, you can stop for a few years, you always keep a background.
Since when did you resume?
I started again about ten years ago, in the mountains, with a friend. Running is the best way for me to recharge my batteries, to decompress. The race is the moment when you put everything down, when the brain turns off, when you are in osmosis with the elements and nature. Besides, when I train with my friend, our outings always go the same way. We start by discussing everyday life, work, family… and then comes the moment when we stop talking, we just look around us, we savor, we feel good. For me, that's racing: just this feeling of being well.
Rather road or trail?
Definitely trail! I live in Annecy. I have an incredible playground available. I also think that running in nature is less traumatic for the body. Not to mention the calm offered by the setting and its beauty….
Do you participate in races?
I've been doing 7 to 8 trails a year for about ten years. My last "big" race was the SaintéLyon, in 2019. 76 km and 2000 m of drop under water tubes!
Your fondest racing memory?
Oh, there are so many! But one of the most beautiful is the SaintéLyon precisely but the previous year, in 2018. It was in the morning at sunrise, that moment when you are really in the hard, you were cold all night, you badly everywhere, you wonder what you are doing there... and there, you see the mist and the sun rising over Lyon, and all those people by the side of the road who are there to encourage you at 6 a.m., in the cold… It reboosts so much. It's amazing, truly magical. And then you understand why you are here!
What does the post-race look like for you?
The meal and the little beer with the friends. We are sporty but we remain good living. As the Spiridonians used to say, “The perf okay, the party first! I find myself perfectly in this state of mind!
Spiridon, what else does it remind you of?
My dad of course! It is thanks to him that I knew Spiridon but I was unaware of the full significance of this movement. It was when I saw, much later, “Free to run”, that I really discovered the history of this magazine, its values, its philosophy.
We have just gone through a very unique year with Covid. How do you see the future of racing, after the pandemic?
I think things will change. The great athletes, like Kilian Jornet, have also announced that they are going to change their way of running, their schedule… They will take the plane less, favoring local races. I think people are going to prefer smaller, more natural races.
Does this eco-responsible concern concern you?
Of course ! Already living in Annecy, I am in fact close to nature. So for me, it's normal to pay attention to my environment and to have a "responsible" way of life. I do my shopping in local markets and very little in supermarkets, I sort, I limit waste, I participate in trail cleaning operations. My house, which I built entirely, is bio-climatic. For me, it's actually natural.
I believe that trail runners – at least back home in Haute-Savoie – are already very sensitive to these issues. For example, we have been careful for a long time not to throw our cups in nature! I often do the Gruffy trail. The entire organization is very responsible: there are dry toilets, after-race grub is done without electricity but with wood, local beers are served there...
Sébastien, what else do you do in life apart from running?
I spend time with my family and I work! I created a company 6 years ago, To The Fit, which specializes in clothing patronage. We support outdoor brands in skiing, running, cycling and climbing.
That's how we met!
Indeed, for 1 year, I am very happy to work with you and to be associated with the beautiful Spiridon adventure which designs high quality sportswear in a sustainable approach. My dad was part of a Spiridon Club. The circle is complete !
ENCOUNTER WITH FRANCK TUIL
Co-founder, impact entrepreneur* and marathon runner.
Franck lives between Paris and the Pays d'Othe region, where the forest is very present. He fell in love with Spiridon's story in 2016 while watching Pierre Morath's magnificent film, Free to run . On leaving the room, he said to himself that this world needs Spiridon's values more than ever, but also an alternative to equip itself correctly with ecological materials, recycled in Europe, far from Asia.
In 2019, he went deeper into the subject and traced the trail of rights holders, from Geneva to Baltimore in the US and embarked on the deep end in 2020.
He shares this rebirth with all running enthusiasts, as well as with the team and partners. At first, the creation of clothes with the minimum environmental impact (which should be the case for all Start-ups for 5 years) and later, who knows, a place of exchange and atypical sharing and certainly mobile.
For 2 years, we've been waiting for his interview :-) He answers: "The star is Spiridon and his community"
*What is an "impact" entrepreneur? Being an impact entrepreneur means integrating virtuous practices for the environment and social, for its customers, its suppliers into its activity.
Franck is a member of the Impact France association and of En Mode Climat.
To be continued...