• Sandro campaign

Style

Q&A: Evelyne Chetrite

The founder of Sandro on family, flea markets and British dress sense

Interview: Clare Finney

How did you come to establish Sandro?
I spent my childhood in Morocco where my mother owned a beauty salon and my aunt was a seamstress, so I was always surrounded by colour and vibrancy. We moved to Paris when I was 15 and I later studied law at university. On the weekends, I worked at thrift shops and in flea markets, and built up a loyal group of customers who appreciated the mix of pieces I was selling. Studying at law school was so stiff and I realised that I wanted to do something creative, so I chose fashion instead. I met my husband while at university, and he was in the process of setting up a fashion business. We found we worked well together. Sandro was born in 1984 and developed very naturally through hard work and humility into the label it is today.

Do British and French customers dress differently?
I would say British dress sense is more daring, while the French tend to lean towards classic, simple styling. The French buy little, but they buy quality. They don’t like to think they’re influenced by trends, which is why the catwalk plays a very small part in what we do. Most of all, I think French style is defined by a desire for pieces that are classic and last for more than one season. For me, it is exciting to see how the English interpret our French styles, and are wearing all the French labels that have launched in the UK over the past five years.

How did your son become involved in the brand?
Just like me, Ilan studied something other than fashion. He studied economics but soon after graduating decided to set up the menswear side of the business. His involvement in Sandro began when the women’s range started to have a great success. He told himself that this brand should not only talk to women but to people. Then he started to imagine in which way this vision could be understood. This gave birth to Sandro Homme!

Sandro campaign

What are the distinctive features of Sandro’s aesthetic?
Chic—laidback, cool, but still modern.

How would you describe your own style?
My style is to feel good in my clothes every day in order to head easily to my appointments. I like to feel comfortable in what I wear! It came naturally—from my teenage years and from my family fashion background.

Where do you get your inspiration from when it comes to new designs?
I draw my inspiration every day through meeting people, traveling, but also through art—and, of course, fashion. I love sitting in a cafe, watching the amazing show Paris gives us every day.

What British designers do you admire?
Phoebe Philo and Alexander McQueen—such a genius!

How has Morocco influenced your work?
Actually, we had a process in Morocco: when it came to dressing us, my mother used to ask a seamstress to come to our home. She stayed with us for at least three days! I really loved when we had to choose together the materials we would use for my future outfits. These are really strong snapshots from my childhood, so it might have influenced my desire to be a designer. Even though I have been living in Paris since I was 15 years old, Morocco will always be my beloved country.

What is it like to have so many designers in one family?
There are so many advantages working as a family business. Firstly we work with our heart and this is such a real happiness for me. Of course we have conforming interests, and that helps to mix business and family. Ilan and I naturally have the same influences, and we do exchange ideas on trend and modernity for our silhouettes. We nourish ourselves with each other’s ideas.