A step inside éclectic‘s rue Charlot flagship in the third arrondissement of Paris doesn’t immediately reveal the brand’s secrets. Impeccable organization showcases concise collections of outerwear, sweaters and sports coats. Only with an item in-hand do the details come forward. There are no other fabrics in these categories that look and feel the way éclectic’s do. Hand-tailoring and refined details manifest on materials that seem to have landed in the present day from producers of the future. Paris-born Franck Malègue, the brand’s founder and designer, launched éclectic in 2011 after years developing cosmetics and traveling the world. The rue Charlot shop is a headquarters of sorts, but it’s also now one of three locations in Paris (one being a concession shop in Le Bon Marché). Soon, a location will open in NYC. This is great news for anyone looking for a “champagne-proof tuxedo” cut in a classic silhouette that only a Parisian atelier can make feel extremely of-the-moment.
With Malègue as a guide, it’s quite easy to become excited about materials. Grabbing hold of a jacket made with cycling-short fabric, flexibility stands out the most. Putting it on, comfort defines the experience. “To me, most men want a coat that fits them well but has a purpose, too,” he explains to Cool Hunting. As comfortable as the product is, it also wears closely to the body, snug and handsome. “The idea is to get technical fiber and use it technically,” he continues. “A lot of people are doing sportswear-inspired pieces. You hear and see that everywhere. Most times it is done more for the aesthetic, or the styling only. I don’t have a stylistic approach. I am a designer. I come at it as a designer. Aesthetic must meet functionality.”
Looking through racks, fingers set upon bi-stretch cotton, Airnet, and techno-fabrics, many of which have been reinforced with particular types of canvas. “It took me two years to manage to make a jacket as light as a shirt,” Malègue adds, handing over what he described. “I wanted to get it exactly right.” He then hands over an exquisite dress jacket drawn from 3D mesh material, asking us to guess the fabric’s most famous application. “It’s one of my favorite fabrics because Nike uses it for running shoes!” he says, “This fabric was initially used by the aerospace industry but in the ’90s Nike began to use it. I’m the first one to put it to use in a jacket.” His ever-popular City Jacket is hewn from thermoregulating fabric—meaning, in the summer it transitions from hot streets to rooms full of cold air-conditioning well. The aforementioned Tuxedo Jacket’s Cordura nylon happens to be wrinkle-free, wind-proof, and thermoregulating. It uses a US Army fabric, composed of a fiber 20 times more resistant than regular nylon.
“Nobody else has my approach,” says Malègue. “When I get a new fabric, I foresee how I can use it. Then I head to the atelier in Italy. When I arrive they say, ‘It is not possible!’ So I work with them to make my design with the fabric. It acts as the inspiration. Then we see how the fabric reacts to the design itself.” There is certain genius to this, and Malègue can speak about hunting for fabrics across the globe on end, never wavering in passion. The same applies to his factory, where upwards of 15 hours can be spent in an individual item. Perhaps most fascinating though, even his most eccentric of materials works on a dual-level, offering personality and protection.
“I am in slow fashion,” he continues—and this means many things. “I have what I call an evolving permanent collection. In total, we have 80 models across every season. As we transition, I will phase out 12 to 15 pieces and phase in 12 to 15 new ones.” This extends to pricing, as well. “I never do clearance sales. The best price is there all year ’round. I also have no stock because I continue to produce all year. It’s not a classic ready-to-wear business model. It is not a model where you produce all at once, put items in the shop and then put it all on sale later to get rid of stock or make it disappear somewhere and start all over again. With everyone talking about sustainability and eco-responsibility, this model makes no sense.” Perhaps most importantly, and noticeable through his work, he concludes, “It’s about ethics and values.”
Malègue frequently uses terms not found in the high-end fashion market, from “active tailoring” to “evolutionary collections.” And yet, there’s no denying his exquisite products fit into the luxury category. Throughout 2017, eight fabrics were exclusively developed for éclectic alone, and in an almost unheard of sense for something so good looking, comfort is actually taken into consideration. éclectic also offers tailoring services to finalize and personalize the fit of purchased goods, though this requires an in-store fitting.
The 1,600-square-foot NYC flagship is expected to open early this summer at 27 Greene Street in SoHo. Malègue also has his sights set on London, LA and San Francisco for potential store development down the line. For those not near, éclectic outerwear can be purchased online, as well.
Third and fourth images by Cool Hunting, all other images courtesy of éclectic