The scarves, squares, and throw blankets by French brand Amédée 1851 are a celebration of cruises from times past and the industrial heritage of the town of Roubaix, which was the world’s wool capital until the 1970s. The label’s first collection of accessories made with premium, eco-friendly fibers will be available for purchase online as of December 4.
The models have names such as Brooklyn, Santa Monica, South Beach, Valparaiso, and Bilbao, but the know-how behind them is French, and more specifically from Roubaix. The brand name — Amédée 1851 — pays homage to the Amédée Prouvost wool processing factory, founded in Northern France in 1851.
At its peak during the 1960s, the site processed 130 tons of raw wool per day — the equivalent of 60,000 fleeces. The wool bales were delivered by boat from South America, New Zealand, and Australia, and the transport was managed by a shipping company founded in Le Havre in 1872, Les Chargeurs Réunis.
The company was renamed Chargeurs in 1983, and acquired all the wool-based activities of the Prouvost group. “That was how we started producing wool,” says Déborah Berger, business development director of the wool department and founder of Amédée 1851. “This accessories collection is an homage to the wool-making heritage and expertise of the Chargeurs group.”
100% Eco-Friendly Merino Wool
Scarves, foulards, shawls, stoles, wraps, blankets, and headbands are woven using merino wool produced in Tasmania and Patagonia. Merino is the world’s finest wool, with fiber diameters between 14.5 and 16 microns (0.0145 and 0.016 millimeters). The factory founded by Amédée Prouvost closed in 1999, and the fleeces are now processed in China and Argentina. Raw wool, also known as “greasy wool,” contains lanolin, a natural waxy substance similar to sebum. The wool is washed, brushed, combed, and its fibers are wound onto bobbins.
The wool bobbins are then sent to a spinning mill. The spinning and dyeing are carried out in Biella in Italy, where the brand’s scarves are also knitted. The twill squares are woven in Como and the jacquard throws are made near Lyon in France. The foulards are “hand-rolled,” hemmed and stitched in Madagascar, and the tassels and labels are sewed on by hand in Italy.
The whole process from sheep to scarf is traceable and eco-friendly. The Organica label launched by Chargeurs (which also owns France-Amérique) in 2017 guarantees wool produced in favorable conditions in terms of the environment, the animals, and the workers. “This label allows us to sell our wools at a higher price and pay our farmers more, as well as standing out from our competitors who sell commodity wool at increasingly low prices,” says Déborah Berger.
Retro Prints and Art Deco Motifs
The development of the accessories was headed up by a Parisian art director and around ten designers recruited in France. The geometric patterns are a nod to the 1920s, the heyday of the Roubaix textile factories. The Brooklyn bandana features a motif inspired by the palmette from Ancient Egypt and the Art Deco movement. The Valparaiso model mimics the pattern of a worn-out, leather suitcase covered with hotel stickers. The Raspaille scarf is inspired by the Colored Rhythm paintings by Sonia Delaunay, and the Santa Monica scarf pays homage to the Californian landscape series by David Hockney.
The accessories by Amédée 1851 will initially be sold online. “It was therefore important for our products to be modern, colorful, eye-catching on the screen, and adapted to social media communication,” says Déborah Berger. The next step will be to approach department stores and concept stores in France, the United States, and Asia. “Customers need to be able to touch our scarves and throws. They’re so soft!”
Through its trendy, eco-friendly approach, Amédée 1851 is looking to compete with Hermès, a company renowned for its chic silk scarves, for the demographic of “urban, Instagram-savvy 30-somethings.” The brand’s products cost less — between 315 and 450 dollars for a twill square compared with 390 euros for a Hermès equivalent — but the quality is the same. “We are far different from the leading luxury groups around today,” says Déborah Berger. “We are proud of our entrepreneurial status and promote production methods and consumption behaviors in line with current trends.”
=> Amédée 1851 e-boutique: www.amedee1851.com
Santa Monica twill square, 450 dollars.
Brooklyn bandana, 130 dollars.
Molitor twill square, 315 dollars.
Signature twill square, 450 dollars.