Sunday, 1 December 2013

Bleu de Chauffe | French Bags Brought Back Home

Bleu de Chauffe brings bags of the past into urban modernity. If outsourcing production to low-cost countries has been a trend for a couple of decades now, then the current one seems to be the start of an era where production is coming home again. 

You would be hard pressed to find a better example of this than Bleu de Chauffe. The young firm launched in 2009 – founded by Frenchmen Alexandre Rousseau and Thierry Batteux. Batteux had previously worked for sport and lifestyle companies and Rousseau comes from a background as a bag designer for LVMH, the company behind Louis Vuitton bags. Both had worked a lot in the Far East before they, in 2009, decided to bring it home – both themselves and production.

Bleu de Chauffe takes the home production very seriously. The small company's tagline is "Savoir faire de proximit√©" which roughly translates into 'local know-how'. In this case, 'local' means the Aveyron province in Southern France. The area is home to both lots of cattle and lots of tanneries and has over many decades accumulated some serious know-how in leather production. It is possibly the best place in France to get all-natural leather, so this is also the location of Bleu de Chauffe's workshop.

Here, eight skilled makers create the bags from materials sourced from four locations, all in France. The leather is local, of course, and cotton, felt and metals arrive from three different producers in Northern France. Once transformed into a Bleu de Chauffe bag, the maker who created the piece signs the bag's label and writes the date of completion.

The designs of Bleu de Chauffe could be described as functional and understated – a fact that is reflected in the name. "Bleu de chauffe" was originally the name of the blue jacket worn by French steam engine workers in the late 1800s. Later it came to be used as a term for the jacket worn by other workers such as locomotive drivers and factory workers.

It is the aesthetics of an industrial past that is the inspiration for Rousseau's designs. He describes them as work bags re-invented for an urban setting: simple, practical and stylish. WM                                                           Post by: Waremakers

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