Clère Paris: The Parisian woman’s bag


In 2020, Pauline had fin­ished her stud­ies in com­mu­ni­ca­tion and graph­ic design. Just one year lat­er, she was already design­ing the pro­to­type of her first bag. From com­mu­ni­ca­tion and graph­ic design to cre­at­ing a new line of acces­sories. From free­lance to busi­ness woman. Get to know the full sto­ry behind the brand Clere Paris and its founder, Pauline Leclere.

From 2020, out of school, she start­ed work­ing as a free­lance, which is already like own­ing your own small busi­ness. Work­ing with her clients and in her every­day life, she real­ized that her bag wasn’t adapt­ed enough to her true needs.

Not enough space for her lap­top and work mate­r­i­al, not resis­tant enough for hold­ing her items, impos­si­ble to put on her back if need­ed…

The mar­ket offered two big options: one, a super chic, del­i­cate bag, not use­ful for true work. Or two, a hideous back­pack, super use­ful but not suit­able for an every­day use at work. Two extreme options that don’t fit a mod­ern woman’s needs. A woman that takes pub­lic trans­port, the bike, that goes to the gym, that works with her lap­top…

The mar­ket seemed to not adapt­ed to work­ing women. And that seemed to have no solu­tion, nor in her wardrobe, nor in any store could she find what she was look­ing for. So, she choose a new path: to cre­ate it.

She need­ed a com­plete poly­va­lent bag, for use from morn­ing to night, for all dif­fer­ent life activ­i­ties, from office hours to cul­ture, drinks, sports… A prod­uct that it’s, most of all, reli­able and always ready and adapt­able.

Clere Paris Paradigme Mode

We live in Paris, we take the metro, the bike, the train… we don’t have time to change bags. This is a com­mit­ment to work­ing women, a bag that lasts a long time and that you can per­son­al­ize with acces­sories for all dif­fer­ent occa­sions that may come up in your life.

So how it hap­pened? She had no for­mal train­ing on fash­ion design, but a very arti­san fam­i­ly his­to­ry did the best for her project. With a met­al sculp­tor father and a painter as a moth­er, man­u­al crafts and entre­pre­neur­ship were noth­ing new to Pauline.

She had the idea of what she need­ed, with great draw­ings, fair con­cepts and a clear vision. So, with some paper and scis­sors, she start­ed build­ing up at home a first pro­to­type, depart­ing from the many draw­ings she had cre­at­ed up to that date.

Ele­gant, func­tion­al, mod­u­lar. The three key words for her project. A styl­ish bag with enough space and pro­tec­tion, that can be trans­formed into a back­pack with quick ges­ture.

Dur­ing the sum­mer of 2021, she pre­sent­ed the project and pro­to­types to the incu­ba­tor Cre­ative Val­ley. Then, she start­ed to meet busi­ness­es, to find part­ners in fash­ion, to vis­it trade shows like Pre­mière Vision… Her dream was on the way of becom­ing true.

Clere Paris Paradigme Mode

And around her project, the con­cept of sus­tain­abil­i­ty comes around eas­i­ly. A unique bag is nec­es­sar­i­ly a sus­tain­able idea. A bag that stays in your life for longer, that it’s not replaced, that adapts to most of your needs. This phi­los­o­phy of prod­ucts is so nec­es­sary nowa­days.

When talk­ing about the devel­op­ment of her project, it came the biggest hur­dle for her. The min­i­mum quan­ti­ty per order that the man­u­fac­tur­ers were demand­ing, a whop­ping 100 pieces. Unluck­i­ly, this is some­thing pret­ty com­mon in the fash­ion indus­try, and one of the biggest obsta­cles that cre­atives must face.

To be able to make the orders, she start­ed a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign in June 2022, on the plat­form Ulule, so she could show also lever­age for a loan.

Once her project was financed and on the way, she had to decide on the right mate­r­i­al, a hard ques­tion when talk­ing about bags. So we had an enrich­ing con­ver­sa­tion about some­thing con­tro­ver­sial today: leather.

Clere Paris Paradigme Mode

Why ulti­mate­ly leather and not a veg­an replace­ment?

Leather is in fact the most durable in the long term, it can be cleaned, repaired, main­tained, etc.

She posi­tions her­self with the long term opin­ion that leather may come from ani­mals, but it’s less pol­lut­ing if it’s kept a long time in use. A big part of leather would be wast­ed if not used for fash­ion, as it’s often a left­over in the ali­men­ta­ry indus­try.

The ques­tion of leather in fash­ion is quite com­plex. In all options there are pos­i­tives and neg­a­tive points. We could write and we’ll pos­si­bly do an entire arti­cle about leather and all the veg­an alter­na­tives exist­ing today.

Pauline has cho­sen Ital­ian leather that has the leather work­ing group cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, that assures ani­mal wel­fare, avoid­ing defor­esta­tion and loose of bio­di­ver­si­ty. This orga­ni­za­tion has many sub groups focused on every pos­si­ble impact in the pro­duc­tion of leather, among:

  • LWG Ani­mal Wel­fare Group, sur­vey­ing ani­mal wel­fare on the sourc­ing of leather.
  • LWG Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Work­ing Group, pro­vid­ing edu­ca­tion and research to help reduce the impact of the leather sup­ply chain
  • LWG Tan­nery of the Future, doing audits in pro­duc­tion sites for envi­ron­men­tal impact
  • WG Trace­abil­i­ty Work­ing Group, track­ing the sup­ply chain of leather in its fac­to­ries

This deci­sion, with the good fac­to­ry to pro­duce her bag was hard to make. For exam­ple, at the begin­ning, a sales­per­son had said that they were going to have the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, but ulti­mate­ly didn’t nor they were apply­ing. Oth­ers changed the ref­er­ences of many types of leather so in the end she couldn’t have the colours she desired for her project.

Final­ly, she found the right fac­to­ry in Tunisia, with a pro­to­typ­ing work­shop in Paris. This has been very use­ful for the brand, as it’s usu­al to send many dif­fer­ent pro­to­types and do lit­tle changes before the final prod­uct is fin­ished. It avoids a lot of trav­el.

The lin­ing comes from Italy, and the deci­sion was that it will be syn­thet­ic, as it is eas­i­er to clean, being a sur­face that we will use on a dai­ly basis.

Clere Paris Paradigme Mode

For the acces­sories, she want­ed to use stain­less steel, but it was very dif­fi­cult to find. So, for the moment she is using brass acces­sories made in the Ardennes region in France, where she’s from, push­ing the local busi­ness in the area.

Late­ly, the ques­tion came on why not mak­ing the whole man­u­fac­ture in France. The main answer was for the price.

I am well read in all lev­els, I have researched every­thing. Of course, it’s not the ide­al prod­uct, but it’s the best prod­uct I can launch today. The best on my scale and with the val­ues that I have as a base.

Clere Paris Paradigme Mode

At the end of this a year and a half trav­el, she found a good com­pro­mise. For her val­ues, her goals, what she want­ed to com­mu­ni­cate. A vic­to­ry for her project, a new brand cre­at­ing val­ue for work­ing and active peo­ple.

And her last words, about entre­pre­neur­ship:

We can do any­thing today. Final­ly, you learn every­thing when you are an entre­pre­neur, more than in a mas­ter’s degree or on any anoth­er field.

She had no choice but to learn it all.

And she did.

Here she is with a spe­cial sou­venir, the first bag ever she fab­ri­cat­ed. And at its side, the promised bag after years of a project. The dream come true.

Written by David Ferrero
October 21, 2022

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