Working within the dynamic start-up culture of Berlin, French designer Justine Leconte is dedicated to bringing sustainable fashion to the masses. Using her active social media presence to reach fans, she promotes the idea of buying less and thinking more when it comes to clothing. Her personal style echoes her brand – cool, wearable and international with a sophisticated French twist.
Leconte had initially fled from her artistic roots but, upon growing tired of her sales job, she chose a career path which mixed the pragmatism of business with the creativity of design. She moved to New York where she studied at Parsons, a school for art and design. Here she would discover a passion for knitwear.
Leconte is quick to rebuff popular misconceptions of knitting: ‘It does not equal bulky scarves, rustic patterns and grandma heirlooms,’ she says. Leconte’s first lookbook in 2016 featured a mix of fine-textured knitwear in warm earthy hues. Produced ethically in Europe, it hinted at a new chapter of sustainable fashion for the designer.
The pieces Leconte creates are timeless classics in a world afflicted by fast fashion labels – the designer describes her stance on flighty trends as an ‘opposition, not disinterest.’ The main drive behind her decision to ensure her clothes are European-made is ethical – she describes her horror at learning about the lives of the workers who produce cheap high street garments. ‘Oftentimes, those standing on the other end of the production line are forgotten or buried under the rubble of poor work safety conditions – the Rana Plaza Collapse, for example,’ she says
Leconte’s clothing label is suited to the buzzing young entrepreneurship and start-up culture of Berlin. The city has influenced her designs and she has embraced its unique, indefinable nature: ‘Unlike New York, Berlin is unsure of its own identity,’ she says when explaining her fascination with the German capital. ‘It leaves its doors open for all.’
Leconte credits her success to the wearability, and accessibility, of her designs. ‘It’s more than designing the avant-garde for the cool party kids,’ Leconte says. ‘Functional does not equal uncool.’
With over 250,000 subscribers, Leconte’s channel endeavours to make fashion more accessible for the general public. ‘It’s unfiltered, direct and democratic,’ she says, and raves about her viewership as being one of ‘the brightest bunch[es] out there.’ In addition to her personal takes, many of Leconte’s videos answer her audience’s questions on design, wardrobe essentials, fabrics, garment maintenance and more. ‘My YouTube channel and my social media presence are my direct path to my audience,’ she says.
Inspired by Berlin and trained in New York, Leconte takes pride in having been shaped by the multitude of countries she has resided in, and yet wears her French heritage like her deep red lipstick. She calls her nationality ‘a prism through which I see life,’ and the stylish, easy sophistication of her designs echo this.
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This November Leconte will travel to Greece and take the spotlight in an upcoming TEDx event centring on fashion. Her talk will specifically address fast fashion but rather than presenting it as evil – something that seems to have little consequence on shopping behaviours – she will present tools for individuals to make informed decisions as conscious consumers.
As Leconte says: ‘In the end, changes start right here with every single person.’