Meet The Balenciaga Designer Behind Super Fine French Label Atlein
"What really counts now is going back to real, physical experiences."
Frenchman Antonin Tron launched his label, Atlein, with a very buzzy show at his apartment in Paris this past spring (his mum served coffee to the editors). Made entirely from jersey sourced from a family-run factory in France, the sporty-yet-luxurious line scored him the coveted ANDAM prize for First Collections.
Nora Baldenweg: Tell us about yourself, Antonin…
Antonin Tron: I was born and raised in Paris, went to study in Antwerp at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and my first job was in menswear at Louis Vuitton. Then I moved into womenswear at Givenchy, before joining Balenciaga, where I have worked alongside Nicolas Ghesquière, Alexander Wang and now Demna Gvasalia. I still work part-time for Balenciaga, but I really wanted to create my own business.
Why create your own brand?
I always wanted to build a world of my own but I needed to find out what my voice was and develop my own personal vision according to the values that I believe in. I had built a great relationship with a family in the west of France who specialise in jersey — a material that I have always loved, and worked with a lot — and it seemed like a great idea to take one single material and exploit it in every thinkable way.
What are your values?
Quality, authenticity and creativity — and today creativity without business does not work. Fashion is constantly moving forward. It's important more than ever to not only have a creative viewpoint but also a good business plan. If I don't sell, I'm done.
Do you have a vision of the Atlein girl?
It's an authentic girl who is cool with herself. I love women and I have plenty of different women in my head when I design but I love the idea of an active, sporty body. The sensuality of sports is very alluring to me — the body in movement. I create for women who want to be comfortable in their clothes, who want to be sensual, feminine and sophisticated at the same time. I love technical sportswear but I like to give it a twist.
What are your feelings about the future?
We are in a period of big changes on every level. It's very disconcerting. I feel worried and excited at the same time. We are living in a very unstable world — we don't know what's to come, what tomorrow will bring, where we will be, and what we will be doing. But at the same time, that is what's so great about it: we can decide what we want to become, we can construct our future.
What characteristics do you believe define your generation?
We are insecure because we have so many choices. We can choose our life, our job, our sex; we can be whoever we want, so sometimes that is also very confusing. The internet plays a huge role in this. It has created many new possibilities but has also demystified many things — everything is explainable, reachable, doable. So what really counts now is going back to real, physical experiences. For me travelling and sports are important. I cannot experience them online. I can watch surf videos all day but it will never be the same thing as getting on a board and tasting the salt in your mouth.
How would you describe the energy in Paris right now?
A lot is happening. Our current sociopolitical state is very scary, so people want to find new solutions and challenge existing models. There is a strong emerging creative scene in Paris. Our generation is much less attracted by money and much more led by what we like. We feel like, if everything is over tomorrow, then at least we'll have tried to do what we believe in.
How do we stay sane today and tomorrow?
We need to learn to live with the planet from a young age. It's also what bugs me the most about my job — fashion is not necessarily a very sustainable system but I try to play my part wherever I can. I wish we could invent a sustainable economy. Real solutions, not just big words.
What excites you right now?
My next trip, to the Himalayas.