Sample-cm is a conceptual sportswear label created in 2015 in berlin by the French designer Margot Charbonnier with a dual background in sociology and fashion.
What led to the creation of sample.cm ?
After completing studies in social sciences and fashion (Central Saint Martins London, Duperré Paris), I founded the conceptual sportswear label Sample-cm in 2015 in Berlin along its luxury line ‘Grand Bassin’. Weaving together my dual background, “Grand Bassin” was designed in that way around a concept of interactive clothing, incorporating daily rituals, physicality and social framing into the design. The label answers to a necessity to prompt radical shifts in the industry and to reclaim singularity in our relation to clothing and our relation to their lifetime.
What inspired your collection?
Each annual collection of “Grand Bassin by Sample-cm” is inspired by a specific sport. This season GB2022-CLUB (https://gb2022-club.com) explores equestrian sports and their relation to the horse. GB2022-CLUB is part of a trilogy started last year challenging more specifically sport and fashion through the gender lens (cf. GB2021-CLUB (https://gb2021-club.com) was about martial arts and women’s anger).
Equestrian sports are one of the two mixed Olympics competitions (with sailing). Men and women compete together. These competitions are yet mostly won by white cis-male athletes. These differences in performances are often explained from an essentialist perspective. The caring and emotional relationships, women riders would have with their horses are presented as “ overprotective” to the animal and at the expense of the performance. The so-called “feminine” ways to ride are mocked and stigmatised, reinforcing the gender prejudices while masking the real systemic inequity at professional levels (sponsoring differences, time availabilities, financial capacity, general support…)
Last year, the covid crisis made also very visible essential activities considered as traditionally feminine that are in the same way overlooked, underpaid and disregarded. While deconstructing essentialism, the GB2022-CLUB wishes to revalue these activities and stands for a gender-neutral perspective on care.
The collection is inspired by the moment of grooming, braiding and bonding with the horses. The design work as tools or testimonies of those gentle rituals which should be practiced and valued by any gender. We believe reinforcing this aspect of the discipline from an ecofeminist perspective would actually lead to deeper communal knowledge and better animal welfare. We also truly believe it could carry significant and inspiring sports performances.
Could you tell us a bit about your interactive clothing?
Each ‘Grand Bassin’ design is to be actioned by the user in some way. Either because it is convertible, strictly functional or often modular. The GB2022-CLUB pieces of design work as some sets of independent elements to be braided together. A top, for instance, can be built up from three elements attached together.
They pay tribute to the moment of grooming and braiding the horse before riding it. The styling references are various and playful. They oscillate between rodeo fringes and prep equestrian gear, amazon one breast top and sporty jockey jacket, pony mottled coat and stretchy velvet. Each design is named from a typical horse name to be cared for and interacted with.
How do you include in your sustainability?
We organized Sample-cm on a sustainable model since the beginning in producing exclusively in Berlin atelier with a team of women workers, in using dead-stock material, natural dyeing and preorders. It is often natural for small businesses to be relatively ‘sustainable’ in the way they produce little quantity and thus less waste.
However, we believe that sustainability, overproduction and overconsumption should be approached also in reconsidering widely our relation to time and our clothing. Sample-cm stands for an extension of the fashion moment to the times to produce, to consume, to dress and undress, live in our clothes and dispose of them. We produce only one annual collection, extending the time between the moment of creation and the moment in the store. We design versatile, and long-lasting pieces, indefinitely reinventing themselves with the user through interactivity and a different approach to dressing. We accept to be deeply disruptive, unfit for the ready-to-wear market, allowing instead to prolong the interest, to disturb, to raise ecological and social awareness and thus – to be political.
Tell us about your favourite part of the design process?
Each season has been a great opportunity to learn. In exploring a new sport, its culture, its background, the racial, gender and social prejudices it carries. Every year it is a learning and sharing experience and that’s how I wish to keep doing it. The conversation, the debate generated around the collections on social media and in the press is one, even maybe the most important aspect for me in creating a collection. So I wanna keep using sports as the very insightful vessels they can be about our contemporary world.
What plans for the future?
In the future, we will keep exploring further other crafts and sport-related technologies with new collaborations and sharing experiences. We also believe the sustainability of a label can always be improved and will keep experimenting with options with its production timing and sourcing tracking. On another hand, Sample-cm is planning to reinforce its identity with the second line of design objects ‘Pediluve’ as a limited series of ersatz of sports gears.
How do you see the future of fashion ?
Hopefully, fashion will begin to be more down-to-earth. The leaders of the industry have been for many years now in closed cup, into avoidance and bluffing strategies and I am not sure it can last much longer.
It would mean to make a huge and hard effort of introspection, to take risks and get rid of a lot. Then maybe we can together aspire to be genuinely inclusive (for instance in the creative team and not only on the podium), genuinely contemporary (not revisiting indefinitely the old maisons with nostalgia) and genuinely sustainable (not just for marketing purposes). I hope the new generation will be into new aspirations and drastically change role models. I believe there can be a lot of poetry, a huge potential of magic and hope as well as being more authentic, committed and vulnerable.