Fashion

How luxury ateliers are making fashion more sustainable

Posted by
Hannah Keegan
Published

Work/Life is Stylist’s regular column about the professional routines of successful women. Here, head of atelier at The Restory Thaís Cipolletta talks us through her one-day diary, from morning latte to lights out. 

Thaís Cipolletta, 33, is co-founder of The Restory, a luxury goods restorer committed to sustainability. She lives in south London with her husband.

MY ALARM GOES OFF…

At about 7am. It goes off a couple of times before I actually get out of bed. My husband sets up the breakfast table every day, which I love, and I’ll have eggs and an espresso. If I’m in the atelier, I wear jeans and a shirt that’s fine to get dirty. I live close to the office, so I walk when I’m not feeling lazy.

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I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR…

Growing and running the atelier at The Restory. This involves sourcing materials, process design, recruitment, training and, every once in a while, I still do some of the restorations myself.

I GOT THE JOB…

After doing a master’s in fashion artefact at London College of Fashion, where I made luxury leather goods with a focus on sustainability. I was introduced to our co-founder, Vanessa Jacobs, as brands weren’t offering proper aftercare for their bags and shoes and she needed someone to develop new techniques to make pieces last longer. I started in her attic three years ago and since then we’ve gone from a team of three to 30.

Restoring items can increase the value hugely.
Restoring items can increase the value hugely.

MY TYPICAL DAY…

Starts when I arrive at the studio at 9am. Items are constantly being delivered (we receive a lot of Chanel bags and Louboutin heels) so we quote on services and, once the client approves, it moves to the atelier. I’ll consult my team of 20 on the best approach. We’re developing a digital database that means you can look up a Chanel 2.55 bag, for example, and it will tell you the exact colour, material and technique for restoring it. That’s never been done before. My favourite thing is when we get an exotic item, and it’s a totally new process of figuring out how to restore it.

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For lunch, if it’s a nice day, I take the team to the park near our office. I’ve usually brought chicken and rice from home. In the afternoon, I have meetings about resource planning or might be pitching to investors. At the moment, we have four to six new artisans joining each month, so I’ll oversee their training process. I travel a bit, too. We’re about to go to Italy and France to meet luxury brand suppliers. It’s essential we’re using the same quality materials, if not better. You can’t mix something cheap with a luxury item, it just doesn’t work. I finish between 6pm and 7pm.

Blending shades is crucial to colour matching.
Blending shades is crucial to colour matching.

MY MOST MEMORABLE WORK MOMENT…

Was restoring a baby blue alligator Hermès Birkin, which had a black pen mark across the front. I had to hand mix four different tones of blue to match the different scales. It was previously valued as worthless, but sold for over £30,000 following the restoration.

THE WORST PART OF MY JOB…

Is balancing the growth of the team with the growth of the business. We recently launched with Selfridges in London and Manchester and have six more partner launches this year, so everything is happening very fast.

THE BEST PART OF MY JOB…

Is the craftsmanship. We want to prolong the life of pieces. It’s about circular fashion – whether you’re reselling or reusing.

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AFTER WORK…

I go to a reformer Pilates class then walk home. I’ll cook dinner and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race with my husband. We love to travel, so we’ll spend some time planning trips. I’m asleep by 10.30pm.

Plan B: Handbag designer

I’ve created a small atelier corner in my house with a sewing machine and leather station so I can develop my own pieces. I wanted to design handbags before The Restory came along, and it’s still a big passion of mine. I like bright, unexpected colour combinations.

Images: provided by The Restory