During our trip to Paris we met up with Morgan Levy, the woman behind Paria Studio – a label that is self described as a ready-to-wear brand building its fundamentals upon values of sustainable consumption. One thing that came straight across is Morgan’s super fun and simply cool personality. She is a girl you would like to hang out with. As she made us espressos (which in France you simply regard to as a coffee, excuse moi!) in her bright studio located in the Le Marais area we started to engage in a conversation that let us find out about the many layers of the brand and the honest and serious intentions of Morgan.
Morgan’s portfolio is filled with big names. She studied at Central Saint Martins in London, worked with luxury brands like Celine, Balenciaga and Alexander Wang to mention a few and now she has launched her own brand. It soon becomes rather obvious that Morgan has a good insight in the ‘behind the scenes’ of the fashion industry. Maybe it is her Frenchness but we loved how honest she was when talking about her experiences and vision.
When asked what brought her towards more sustainable thinking in fashion she straight up replied that it was the experiences she gained through working in both luxury brands as well as smaller fashion companies. Of course seeing what happened on the high-street played significant role as well. “I was seeing my friends shopping there and simply buying ‘crap’. What they bought might have looked lovely but I was like – yeah, but you don’t understand you are buying something that you think is luxury but really it is not!” Morgan added that the one thing she finds really frustrating with fashion brands is the massive waste of the fabric.
“Huge fashion companies are buying tonnes of fabric but they don’t use it. I was working at a really famous company that was very known in the 90s and 2000s and the director had a storage in the countryside with thousands of meters of fabric, a very luxurious fabric and it was all damaged by the time. And you feel like; why don’t you give it away? Give it to school or sell it if you are so close to your money. Like sell it to someone who needs it.”
In fact, Morgan was able to reply to this question herself: “There is this rule for big brands, such as Chanel, that if the fabric is marked as one of their own they can’t sell it. However, I heard from someone that in order to get rid of their stock they are actually selling it to really foreign countries in the east. People are buying it there because they know it is a luxurious fabric. In this way they don’t ruin the image. If a company from here buys it, it can be damaging for the brand.” Consequently Morgan explains that the first collection for Paria Studio was made using fabrics from stockist in Paris that indeed is selling surplus from such brands as Celine, Louis Vuitton and others. However, this fabric is plain so you wouldn’t recognise it. As she tells: “You couldn’t know unless you had worked in the particular brand and recognised their sticker.”
Morgan feels that with the increased speed of fashion luxury brands suffer the most from lack of creative expression. Which is why she decided to do things much slower. “I don’t want 6 or 8 collections per year, for me it is only one collection and I am just changing the fabric or some details. What I did was that I started with a single product and every year I add one product in the collection. There is no product that you can’t find.”
She says that with fashion trends it is like: “Zebra print today and tomorrow, after that it is black and then it is purple and you don’t know what to do. If you want to follow the trends you need to be able to buy every week. Like ASOS that changes their collection weekly. I am not against all of those brands because people need to buy affordable clothes; I am rather against the way they do it. You would be able to do the same but with smaller amount of collections. There is so much rubbish and when you see all the people throwing clothes out every day you are like – aaaa stop it!”
This made us enquire about her thoughts on high-street brands that are beginning to create sustainable capsule collections to which she frankly replied:
“Like H&M Conscious? For me it is fake. I can’t tell you like, ‘yeah, it is really good!’ because it is fake. They are selling t-shirts for 3 euros or less. I mean it is impossible to do that knowing all the work that goes into the production chain. Like that H&M recycling thing where you bring your old clothing to get voucher is just a way to get people to buy more things. Because in the end you have a voucher for maybe 5 euros but you end up buying something that costs much more.”
Morgan is realistic, of course she wants to earn money but for her the quality of clothing comes first. The sourcing must be done by her not by someone who would compromise on things that matter. Paria Studio does ‘Made in France’ clothes. For her it is not just a trend as she reveals that she could have easily made her collections in, for example, Italy. “Everyone knows how to make a top.” But for Morgan it is a question of convenience. Closer is easier and requires less transportation. This also allows her to properly converse with the factory owner and overlook the work. As she states:
“I can call him, I can go and see him in three hours by car.”
For fabrics it is different. She carefully select them herself and it is a process that might take up to three month. The cotton is from Italy, the silk comes from France and then everything is dyed in France as well. For the latest collection Paria Studio is doing ‘french seam’ which would secure that no threads are coming out. She is using it for all the seams except the collar because it would be impossible unless you sew it by hand.
As you could have noticed by now – details are of a high importance to Morgan. “I hate the garment tags,” she suddenly states. “You have this long tag inside your garment and you are like should I cut it, should I keep it? I really want to get rid of it but I don’t know if it is a good idea or not.” designer questions herself. During a quick brainstorming session she wonders should the information be available only online or printed on paper that comes with the garment. One can immediately tell that Morgan is always looking out for a ways to innovate. She adds that she also creates a collection that could be called an ‘experimental collection’ where she starts from a simple design from basic line and plays around with the cuts and lengths from there.
We ended with a question that, possibly, should have been the one to begin with. What does ‘Paria’ actually mean?
And the replay was more intriguing than we expected:
“PARIA is a caste and it comes from India. It is the lowest class. The idea was to say that we are all PARIA in some way but that there is no PARIA at all at the same time. In fashion there is a way to think differently and if you think differently you are PARIA. It is like, yes, on one side it is not positive if you think of the poorest class in India but at the same time if you put it out to the world you make them shine a little bit.”
Morgans is a vibrant person and so is her brand with its unique and witty imagery which she wants to be “Chic but fun! Everything is so serious in fashion otherwise!” designer states. But when you have a chance to explore Morgan’s way of thinking you can see it is different, it is deep and adds meaning to everything she does.
PARIA STUDIO | womenswear
ENVIRONMENT | High quality fabrics, garments sewn using ‘french seam’. Cotton comes from France and silk from Italy. For selected garments uses deadstock fabrics.
ETHICS | Made locally in France, fabrics are dyed in France as well.