Fashion

Meet SOTTES, the Brand Redefining Fashion With "Undefined" Clothing

Launching in Surrender this month, the Swiss label talks to us about sustainability, eschewing trends and designing for everyone.
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A small village in Switzerland might be an unlikely home for a contemporary fashion label, but that’s exactly where you’ll find the studio workshop of SOTTES, established by Jeanne Guenat and Elliot Upton in 2017. It’s there that the pair, along with a team of local seamstresses, construct every single one of the label’s garments by hand. 

If the process is reminiscent of the hallowed traditions of haute couture houses, it should be. After all, SOTTES regards each of its pieces as an artwork. However, while the former mould their creations for a specific client, SOTTES is less discerning; their designs are meant to be worn by pretty much anyone.

Made using natural fabrics carefully sourced from Swiss vintage shops, SOTTES’ upcycled garments offer a glimpse of what the future of fashion should look like: sustainable and inclusive. Ahead of the label’s debut collection launch at Surrender, we speak to the designers behind it to find out how they’re challenging the status quo.

 

Why did you choose to base SOTTES in Switzerland instead of a fashion capital?

Being in Switzerland, which is known for its watchmaking reputation and not fashion, gives us the chance to work with a clear mind, without any unnecessary influences when it comes to design and current trends. Also, the opportunities of collaborating with local professionals and gathering fabrics and materials are right at our fingertips. It gives you a lot more creative freedom when these are readily available to you. Being away from the big cities was more coherent with our concept.

 

“SOTTES” is French for “rebellious”. What does SOTTES rebel against?

In a way, we are rebelling against the way fashion is being produced. We want to head in a direction where we release minimal collections per year, with limited pieces and a handmade quality that takes more time than it would if we mass-produced in a factory setting.

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What measures do you take to make SOTTES’ garments sustainable? 

We only use recycled fabrics that are hand-selected by us. You could also go as far as saying that the fact we work out of a small studio, making small batches by hand makes us sustainable as we are minimizing as much waste as possible.

 

What possibilities does using recycled materials create?

The benefit of working with recycled fabrics is that we never know what the next piece will be made from. It is all dependent on what we can source at that time. This gives us a spontaneity in textures and visual aesthetics. Each piece is different from the last, meaning that each wearer owns a unique, one-of-one piece.

What is the inspiration behind your first collection, “RECOMMENCE”?

“Recommence” is a word that we associate with our manufacturing process. Old becomes new; materials with a past purpose recommence a new life in the form of a SOTTES garment.

 

SOTTES’ designs feature some playful details, like the embroidered stickman that appears on every garment. Why did you decide to capture a childlike energy in your designs?

“SOTTES” can be used to describe the character of a child or an adult. We always use the same analogy to describe the word to people who ask for its meaning: it’s the embodiment of a child drawing on their mother’s newly-painted white walls. This is the characteristic that we wanted to put into our pieces. From the print to the embroideries and the stitching, you can feel the fun and juvenility behind our creativity.

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Your clothes are “undefined”, meaning they can be worn by anyone regardless of their gender, size and age. What was the reason behind this?

We want to stop boundaries of what someone can or cannot wear. We like the idea that somewhere, there is a couple that shares a wardrobe together with the ability to style their clothing in either a masculine or feminine way. 

 

Do you think “undefined” clothing is the future of fashion?

Undefined clothing should be the future. Being able to offer one size and genderless garments can save endless amounts of fabric waste due to unsold sizes and styles. As long as the wearer has the option to style it in the way they see fit, other brands should catch on in the future. 

"Every piece is just as versatile as the wearer wants it to be. Giving the individual the freedom to put their own personality into the garments is what SOTTES is all about. Not one piece of clothing is exclusive to a specific type of person."

Who are your artistic and design influences?

L’art Brut movement was very much a key influence for us when we started to formulate ideas for the brand. It’s about creating something outside of traditions, in a raw and naive way. Of course, in a creative process, inspirations are constantly changing. It’s always good to take inspiration in the beginning but as you get deeper into the process you learn to inspire yourself. 

 

What can we expect from SOTTES in future? 

We want to experiment with a wider range of recycled and eco-friendly materials. There is also the possibility of delving into the world of accessories and jewellery as it is something that we’ve always wanted to explore.  

Meet SOTTES, the Swiss label redefining fashion with "undefined" clothing

SOTTES' "RECOMMENCE" collection is launching exclusively at Surrender this September. A worldwide first, every piece from the limited-run collection is individually numbered and tagged with “SOTTES for Surrender” in special commemoration.

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