De Bonne Facture was created by Déborah Neuberg with one goal in mind: A wardrobe of men's essentials meeting the craftsmanship of hand-picked ateliers in France. Ryland asks Déborah Neuberg, founder of De Bonne Facture what it’s like developing this cool, French cult brand.
How did you make the leap to being a fashion designer?
Designing has always been my aspiration, but unfortunately I didn't go through formal training. So I started working in fashion and learning alongside designers. When I decided to start my own line, at first people in the industry advised me to work with a trained designer, because they said I couldn't be one myself. When I tried and saw that the result was very far from what I wanted, I decided to take the leap.
What does "Life Equipment" represent to you? / Top 5 life equipment necessities.
Life Equipment represents a kind of kit of what I need to function. With what we all went through this year, I would say my top 5 “Life Equipment” is family, friends, poetry, spirituality, and fun. I also found out that I can't live without nature. I literally spent the first lockdown staring at a tree outside my window and watching it change for the whole of Spring.
What's the meaning / backstory of the name "De Bonne Facture”?
I was looking for a name for a really long time and got discouraged. One night in 2011 or 2012, I was sitting at my cousin's house with a few people, including one of her friends who is a writer. I had a friend from a past life who would say these really old-fashioned French expressions like "de bonne facture". Thinking of the essence of the label I was creating, and thinking of him, I said "I just want it to be De Bonne Facture, that's all!" And my cousin's friend said : why don't you call it that? Essentially, it means something that's well made, with respect for the rules of art.
What is a signature piece from DBF?
The Grandad Trench Coat in French local wools, a perfect mix between heritage French tradition and relaxed, slouchy modernity.
Where do you get creative inspiration? / How are you approaching next season?
I'm inspired by old people in the street, pictures of artists in their studios, and natural landscapes.I'm approaching next season with a need to connect to natural luxury fabrics, like merino wool from the Arles region, or Pecora Nera New Zealand wool from black sheep, and slouchy, cosy, comfortable clothes you can really feel at home in and wear in time. Like an elegant pyjama.
In the morning, I spend time with my cat, make coffee, and sit at the table watching that famous tree outside my window. I look at the atmosphere of the street below, watching how people are dressed, the way they are walking, it sets the mood of the day. Then I turn on my phone…
The daily habit that makes me thrive is remembering to breathe.
For two seasons we have moved the studio space to my living room, because I couldn't focus at the showroom with the rest of the team in the other room.
Otherwise, my workspace, which is my studio & showroom, is in an old printing factory in a courtyard full of flowers in the 11th Arrondissement. It's a white workshop with tall panelled windows that let the light in. My desk is a big wooden table we designed when I moved there in 2015 with my architects, made in local hazelnut wood, and a "pierre de taille" table stand (the stone that is used in Haussmannian buildings in Paris). I'm surrounded with samples, a few inspiring books, and I obsessively burn Japanese incense to focus.
The men who wear DBF are usually a mix of intellectual & creative. Our best and/or most loyal customers include writers, academics, comedians, film directors...
My dream client is Paul McCartney. I'm only joking because I know he lives close to your shop.
I recently connected on Instagram with the actor who played in the short film 50 Shades of Greige, which is absolutely hilarious and makes fun of our industry. He was actually following us. It's so good. He's my dream client.
For readers who want to start their own fashion business, what are your top tips?
Believe in yourself, find competent people you can talk to and bounce ideas with, surround yourself with a support network. Don't forget designing is only a small part of your job, which puts off a lot of designers who want to start their business, but is really important to accept. Start a sports or meditation practice alongside your venture, as a backbone, because the road is long and you will need stamina!
What is your favorite place to visit?
Tough question! Maybe a loved one's home?
What are your top "Go-To" places in Paris?
It depends, I go to many different kinds of places in Paris. A very good address for second hand designer clothing is Odetta, on Rue des Tournelles. I love going there and chatting with Charles, who is the best person to advise you on your wardrobe according to your style and soul.
My childhood memories are in the Champ de Mars garden, where there is a merry-go-round with play horses, and a game where children catch rings with a stick while turning round and round. I don't know if it's still there, but it was such a joyful place.
I always take people to L'Avant Comptoir, at Odeon, for pintxos (Basque tapas) and natural wine.
Finally, I would advise going to Simon's second-hand menswear shop, on Boulevard Arago, in the 13th Arrondissement, one of my favorite places ever. It's like a living room for men in the neighborhood; sometimes a few women. An interesting place.
L'Avant Comptoir de la Terre/credit: MKS. Family