The local high-end cashmere institution re-invents itself with the launch of a new concept as daring as it is innovative: Atelier Inam. Arif Currimjee, its MDl, tells us all about this soon-to-be iconic brand and the vision that inspired him to reconnect clients with the artisans.
In what ways is Atelier Inam offering an innovative approach to luxury?
Atelier Inam was born of two realities. First, the advent of e-commerce, which now enables us to reach out to an international target through our website, atelier-inam.com; we work on demand and ensure that we deliver, in less than a week, a high quality tailor-made product. Secondly, we observed that our clients, essentially Millennials, have a different outlook on luxury. They want to know and understand the brand, how the product is made, is it good value. They are aware, and their buying decisions are, at least partially, guided by ethical considerations. They are looking for an authentic story, in line with their values – and this is exactly what we can offer.
Tell us the story!
Our family has been interested in textile since the industry’s first steps in Mauritius in the 1970s. This is how my father – who had no experience in the field – founded Bonair, with a particular creative approach on fashion that was new to the country. I joined the group back in 1985, and we launched the brand Maille Street, which was first distributed in Europe, then in Mauritius. In’am was born 20 years ago, to offer a luxury product cocooned in the world of cashmere. We are now focusing on our online presence, our free world-wide delivery service, and our artisans’ exceptional know-how, to export our brand throughout the world.
What is your relationship with your artisans?
Atelier Inam is an ode to the days when we bought clothes from our tailor. Each order has a name, which creates a bond between our artisans and our clients. We do not see our workshop as a burden, as is often the case in the textile industry. Instead, we see it as an asset that enables us to offer a unique and differentiating service. Today, we have about 40 artisans, some of whom have been working with us for more than 40 years! Atelier Inam positions itself as slow-fashion, in antithesis to disposal fast fashion which is dictated by price with little regard to quality. Each of our pieces is manufactured on a manual knitting machine, and we select exceptional materials to ensure quality without any compromise. We use new technologies to sustain these traditional trades.
How to reassure Millennials as per your ethical positioning?
Our approach is a socioeconomic experience aiming at preserving jobs in the textile industry in Mauritius. To do so, we actively value our artisans. But we have also set up several green initiatives: the water we collect to wash our cloth is treated and re-used; our production process doesn’t create any waste, and we give our clients the possibility to renew their cardigans so as to lengthen their lifespan – and to finally recycle them and generate raw materials that can be re-used.