Runway News

Sundry’s Surf-Loving Designer on His French Background and Beach-Inspired Line

07-summer14

The South of France meets Venice, California with Matthieu Leblan‘s new contemporary brand Sundry. The California-based French designer is an avid surfer and lover of beach culture, but also a stickler when it comes to quality and fabrications, so it’s little surprise that his brand has quickly attracted a cult following among discerning sea and surf lovers. We spoke with the designer to find out more about his up-and-coming line, now available on Shopbop.

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Designer Matthieu Leblan

theFashionSpot: Can you tell us a little bit about your background before starting Sundry?

Matthieu Leblan: I come from a family of artists, so naturally I went in that direction as well. In addition, both my parents’ families were textile manufacturers — my mother’s side of the family dealt in exquisite linens and my father’s side were in cotton. It wasn’t my plan to go into fashion fresh out of art school, but I guess it’s no surprise that I ended up here.

tFS: Were you also influenced by growing up in France?

ML: My French upbringing has built the foundation of what I do with Sundry — classic pieces that are easy to wear and that are made with the best quality materials out there. It dictates most of the design decisions I make and continues to influence how I approach every collection.

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tFS: What is it like living in the South of France year-round? How does it compare to California?

ML: There are many similarities between the South of France and California, such as the weather and being able to do many activities outdoors. In Aix-en-Provence, where I’m from, there is easy access to the mountains as well as the beach. But the one draw that California had on me was the surf.

tFS: To that point, your brand is often described as “perfect for travel.” Can you tell us about some of your most inspiring travel? Anywhere you’re hoping to go?

ML: One of my all time favorite places in the world is Bali. I’ve taken several epic surf trips there over the years. It’s been a while since I’ve been back, but I would eventually love to have a place of my own there. It would be a dream come true to build a charming house on the beach where I can surf every morning and live simply.

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tFS: Where did the name Sundry come from?

ML: The definition of it means: various and diverse, which seemed fitting for a lifestyle brand. I also really liked the play on words Sundry provides. Visually, it looks like “sun” and “dry” and that also seemed appropriate since the beach thing is so much a part of our DNA.

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tFS: At what point did you seriously start thinking about starting Sundry and can you tell us about the initial steps?

ML: After art school, I worked in graphic design and motion graphics. Many years later, I got tired of working in front of a computer all day. I actually had two other brands before this, but it wasn’t until Sundry that I was able to realize my ultimate vision. I knew I had to just go for what I really wanted and I’m so happy and grateful with where I am today.

tFS: What are some of the biggest day-to-day challenges?

ML: It’s a complex business and can be really tough. It’s always challenging when a supplier doesn’t meet your expectations — it can really throw a wrench in things. That’s why it’s so important to find the right people to partner with. They can help make or break your business.

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tFS: What do you think sets your clothes apart and has made retailers like Shopbop want to carry your line?

ML: Using the best fabrics that feel soft and comfortable on without compromising style is our first priority and our customers appreciate that. It’s always their first reaction. And also our color assortment is what we are known for. You can’t go wrong with comfortable, stylish pieces in amazing colors.

tFS: To what extent do you follow seasonal trends?

ML: I don’t follow trends and I think this is where my French background comes in. I try to stick with classics — this way you’ll be able to wear that favorite pair of sweats or dress of ours season after season.

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tFS: What do you think are some must-haves?

ML: I think it’s more important to build a wardrobe of quality basics. Each season I like to just add new colors in things I already have.

tFS: What does your day-to-day wardrobe consist of?

ML: I’ve stuck to an unofficial uniform since I was very young and still remains today. Great pair of denim, classic cashmere sweaters (especially navy) and the perfect tee, all worn with white sneakers.

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