They are twins, but they are not hand in glove. Until Ségolène and Alexandra Jacmin found one another to launch their Brussels denim label, they did their own thing. It is precisely this difference that makes them a golden duo for Façon Jacmin. At the end of November, it won them the prize for rising talent at the very first Belgian Fashion Awards.
"Our parents realized early on that we are very different, so they put us in two different classes in primary school. Afterwards, I went to secondary school in Kortrijk, while my sister stayed in Tournai. And later still, I moved to Leuven to study civil engineering and she enrolled in the fashion programme at La Cambre."
"When we started working, our paths separated even more. I went to work as a consultant at a company in Brussels and she moved to Paris to work at big fashion houses like Martin Margiela and Jean Paul Gaultier. Not only our social circles, but our whole lives were actually very different,” Ségolène Jacmin tells us.
“In the meantime, I was planning to start my own business. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my job, but it felt natural to start something of my own. In that sense, I am more like our father. After considering a whole range of possibilities, I felt as though I needed my sister for this new project. But whenever I suggested anything, she usually dismissed the idea.”
So Ségolène Jacmin went her own way. She drew up a financial plan for two alumni from La Cambre – and friends of her sister – and together they founded their own label, and started working as coaches for designers and fashion designers at the Liège-based non-profit Job’In Design.
“I learned about the underlying principles of the fashion world, and thus gradually gained my sister’s trust. She discovered that I could do more than just work with numbers, and that I was also tuned into her creative world. When she came home for Christmas in 2014, she showed us a file full of design drawings. She even had a name and a logo. It was a complete surprise! She had spent a long time working on it. We are really opposite in that sense too: I do and say everything spontaneously, she quietly takes her time.”
Alexandra’s concept to make sophisticated denim for women was an immediate hit with Ségolène. “To me, it was essential to innovate in what is actually a relatively old-fashioned sector. I really liked the idea of working with one fabric. This way, what we stand for is completely clear both for our customers as well as for me. The trend of working around one concept is also very popular in gastronomy at the moment, but it is quite new to the fashion sector. The idea is that it might be too restrictive for the designer, but my sister completely disagrees,” Ségolène Jacmin says.
“For our collection, she does not work with classic or typical jeans codes, but presents new items like denim kimonos or trench coats. We spent a year and a half preparing everything. Our official kick-off was in May 2016, and we have hired two new collaborators since then. The atmosphere in the group just keeps getting better and better.”
Another key strength of Façon Jacmin is that jeans as a material will never go out of fashion. “Almost everyone has a favourite pair of jeans that they just can’t get rid of. That is the feeling we seek to stimulate through Façon Jacmin. That is why most of our pieces are timeless and that we keep them in the collection for much longer than is usual in the fashion world. Our pieces are practical but also elegant, and with the exception of the capsule collections, they transcend the seasons."
"In the middle of January, we will release our “Out of the blue” collection with a series of tops. We are organizing a fashion show, for which my sister and her team – who are based in Paris – are sewing pieces in a race against the clock. We consistently work with jeans from Japan because the fabric is much finer and the colour is more beautiful. I initially didn’t understand why my sister chose it, but when you see the difference in quality between this and denim from Turkey or Morocco, you immediately understand the price difference. Moreover, our pieces are intended to last a lifetime.”
The way these two sisters market their brand is also just a bit different. “Considering economic realities and the tough competition, I absolutely didn’t want to found a luxury brand. To keep the prices democratic, we sell direct, except in Japan. I was also looking for a more innovative version of the pop-up. That’s how the I got the idea of bringing our clothes to the street literally, in a minibus. Initially, my sister absolutely hated the idea because of the luxury fashion bubble in which she lived. But since it has proved to work so well, she is completely supportive. Thanks to being crowned rising talent at the very first Belgian Fashion Awards, the minibus will be parked in the entrance hall of the MoMu in Antwerp until 8 January.”
Rough but warm
Coincidentally, Ségolène has also just opened a shop-cum-showroom and office in Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles. “I was looking for office space, and I found a building around the corner from my own house. The space at the front makes a perfect showroom for the collection, so in one sense we have our own boutique now. But since we don’t have fixed opening hours and the place is not on a shopping street, in another sense it is not. The shop is open when we are here working. After just over a month, I am pleasantly surprised by how many people pass by and pop in, and how much we enjoy the direct contact with the customers,” Ségolène Jacmin says.
“It makes you realize just what a cosy neighbourhood Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles is. Three weeks ago, I met one of our neighbours, and now she pops in regularly. People still talk to one another here. The neighbourhood can seem a bit rough, but it’s actually really warm once you get to know it. Just like our jeans.”
What is Façon Jacmin?
Façon Jacmin is the brain child of Alexandra and Ségolène Jacmin. Alexandra graduated as a fashion designer from La Cambre in Brussels in 2010, and then worked for fashion houses like Maison Margiela and Jean Paul Gaultier in Paris. Ségolène graduated as a civil engineer in 2010, and then worked in strategic consultancy.
After a year and a half of preparations, the twins launched their label in May 2016. In October 2017, they opened their studio, showroom, and boutique in the municipality of Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles. Just under a month later, they won the prize for rising talent at the very first Belgian Fashion Awards.
> Façon Jacmin. rue du Fortstraat 67, Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles, 0474-33.02.55, no fixed opening hours