How sociology and fashion mix: I sit with Margot Charbonnier to hear about her customisable sportswear label, Sample-cm. *this interview was conducted prior to the COVID-19 outbreak *
As humans we all have our very own unique patterns. Each individual habit often influences our relationships, our culture, how we move and how we interact with other humans beings. Let's be honest, it basically affects our entire, everyday existence. It even goes as far as influencing our cultural rituals and the ways in which we present them to society. After all, it's these swift movements that make us human.
I sit with Margot Charbonnier, fashion designer and entrepreneur, who enjoys analysing such aspects of the human psyche and their social engagements. She likes it so much that her well-researched desire to debunk sociological patterns of the human mind is sewn into every garment she has ever designed. This intricate look into fashion is presented under her fashion label Sample-cm, which develops Grand Bassin, premium sportswear collections released since 2015.
As a multi-disciplinary designer, Margot studied social sciences before studying fashion at the Central Saint Martins in London and the at the Duperré de Paris. These influences have taken her onto her current fashion journey where elements of design, art, fashion and sociology combine. How society impacts fashion, and the other way around, becomes the main driver for her to debunk socio-political and sporting-fashion myths. She is unapologetically human and incorporates futurism and adaptability into her fashion label from inception to execution. But let's start at the beginning, shall we...
"I want to give people the opportunity to express themselves through the clothing and to interact with it," Margot says, "I want to actually help people transform their garments through little movements and tricks that help to preserve personality and individuality of each person who wears Sample-cm." Her work is heavily influenced by French sociologist and philosopher Michel de Certeau. He was a thinker whose main focus consists of history, philosophy, psychoanalysis and social sciences. Such constructs are always at play when Sample-cm collections are designed.
Her most essential elements are retracted from de Certeau's book, The Practice of Everyday Life. In this book, de Certeau examines the dominant exchanges that make up a culture and affects our everyday existence as a society. He labels this under the 'arts of doing' where he argues that people, through the small actions they take in their daily lives, can slowly obtain opportunities by subverting these daily rituals – and the representations that often come with them. To put it another way, de Certeau identifies that there are 'strategies' within societal institutions. These strategies are expanded through power. These 'strategies' are usually deployed by people, those who are labelled 'producers.' These 'strategies' include messages and roles that influence the everyday life of the common individual. He calls that this role of consumption, the 'consumers'. It is this label that defies us, particularly in metropolitan regions. So does this mean we're stuck in an ever endless cycle of specified roles? de Certau says there's hope, through everyday rituals and the delicate movements we practice individually (and together), these actions develop and lead us to produce a uniquely resistant culture. Resistant to what? Well, to the repressive aspects of modern society, naturally. The crux here is that even the smallest, everyday action can produce a culture that is countering institutionalised power dynamics and the instilled presumptions that come with it.
Whichever way you analyse this concept is open to personal interpretation. Margot has managed to retract this insight and incorporate her well-researched analysis into her very own fashion label, Sample-cm. Sample-cm works as an independent label from Berlin, where her designs focus around a specific process for each capsule collection. These capsules are released as a complete project. Her interest in sociology and fashion design are intertwined by providing aesthetic solutions for everyday activities. "I'm trying to stay experimental," she says, "because I still consider myself as if I'm working for an emerging label." Her experimentations have utilised de Certeau's concept of the micro-practice whereby the responsibility of everyday engagements are left in the hands of the individual to decide what to do with the garments.
From her Neukölln studio, Margot's unisex sport kit collections are released as all-encompassing design projects. Each project continuously shifts the paradigms between functional and customisable fashion. Her releases have focused on the individual's body and ritual practices that manifest through sporting activities. "I'm really interested the very small ways and interactions that people are interacting with clothing," she says, "I find it really captivating." Her designs bring together beautiful and creative ways to display sporting codes for the inhabitants of a city like Berlin, and for the "spiritual athlete, uncompromising experts and offside champions."
Margot analyses the strategies of the metropolitan cityscape and has thoroughly researched the organisational power structures that are at play in society. It is through this analysis that her sporting kits are mastered individually and uniquely for each wearer of her designs. Sample-cm is daring and innovative, but does not exist without many complexities and contrasts. By intricately observing the movements of a person in relation to fashion, this has driven her designs to encompass interactions and individuality. "Small actions and their capacity within everyday life can create a sort of poaching impact," Margot explains, "like, you can change, in a very subtle way, the social system in general through your small actions and interactions."
Questioning the power of tradition, Margot's interest in revival trends and brilliant prophecies do not go unexamined. As a designer who never hides herself and researches the intricacies of sports and individual movements vigorously, it has allowed her to enter the fashion space with a narrative that hasn't really been explored before. While each season she explores a new sport and analyses their intricate movements – her next collection will launch this Fall 2020 – there is no doubt that her capsules will continue to address themes such as sociology, sports and the functionality of fashion. Her garments will not cease to be impactful and of course, sociological. "Sociology, but make it fashion!"