In Les leçons du mal, Thomas H. Cook reminded us that “Harmony is oppression in a velvet glove.” Today, the glove alone is enough to create a harmonious outfit. As an extension of the garment and the final touch to a set, the glove is being given pride of place again this winter by many luxury brands.
Emblematic accessory of this fall-winter season, the glove is presented in many different ways by the various luxury brands: while it is tone-on-tone at Balmain, Marine Serre, Saint Laurent or Olivier Theyskens, or even printed with the same pattern in the collections of Balenciaga, Burberry and Richard Quinn for Moncler, the glove appears in very bright colors at Kocher or Lanvin, sometimes even silver at Valentino, metallic at Erdem or fluorescent at Comme des Garçons. Made of a single skin (Lacoste) or a patchwork of leathers and colors (Louis Vuitton), the glove is erected by luxury brands as the accessory par excellence.
This recent rehabilitation of the glove is highlighted by the designer Abdel El Tayeb, still a student at the École nationale supérieure des arts visuels de la Cambre in Brussels: “The glove has attracted me for a long time. It is an accessory that people of my age are not necessarily used to wearing, but precisely by diverting it, by playing with its shape, its volumes, its style, I am convinced that there is room to reinvent it.” Abdel El Tayeb’s beautifully gloved silhouettes have earned him a certain notoriety on social networks. His multi-faceted models were made in collaboration with the Agnelle glove factory in Saint-Junien (Haute Vienne).
The exception of the French glove-making industry is indeed due to the fifteen or so specialized companies present on the territory, as well as the 350 people working in the sector for a total turnover of 50 million euros. Most of the French workshops are members of the Filière Française du Cuir and the Fédération Française de la Ganterie (French Glovemaking Federation) whose members are all certified as Living Heritage Companies. Issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance since 2005, this label is a guarantee of the quality of the raw materials used in glove making. French glove makers have notably kept the habit of sourcing raw materials close to their workshops.
These craftsmen have also endeavored to pass on their know-how over the generations. This expertise revolves around the meticulous selection of leather, its manual shaping, its precise cutting and the realization of very fine seams inside each finger. For it to literally “fit like a glove” to the wearer, the accessory must be made symmetrically for both hands, which have a very large number of joints. It is important to remember that other skills are inherent to the making of a glove. Historically, it is in Millau that activities of recycling, de-laminating and transformation of animal fleeces are developed. In Saint-Junien, similar megisserie activities began as early as the 11th century.
In 1998, the Hermès Group took over Ganterie Maroquinerie Saint-Junien, and in 2012, the Paraffection subsidiary of Chanel acquired Gant Causse, which had been established in Millau for 120 years. The following year, the leather goods manufacturer Camille Fournet took Maison Lavabre Cadet under its wing. These three preserved companies – as well as their colleagues Agnelle, Atelier du Gantier, Georges Morand and Lesdiguières-Barnier – ensure that new craftsmen are trained at the Centre Technique du Cuir (CTC).
Today, the modernity of French glovemakers is also perceptible through the deployment of eco-responsible activities – orders are shipped directly from the workshops – and e-shops, where all the information needed to choose a pair to suit your size is delivered. Wearing a glove therefore not only protects you from the cold, but also supports a sector that is at the heart of the Made in France logic and ecological issues.
Featured Photo : © Abdel El-Tayeb, Cambre Mode