A French textile heritage at the heart of a mythical brand’s rebirth.
A success story in writing!
Close to 50 000 “indienne” printing blocks, this is the real treasure that propelled SOULEIADO among the monuments of the French textile industry heritage. Its story is a magnificent one: that of the “indiennes”, vividly colored cotton fabrics imported from the Great Indies to the coastal port of Marseille at the end of the 16th century.
Soon, these bright, color-fast fabrics, then unknown, seduce the greater Provence, from Languedoc to the Riviera. The region starts distributing them throughout the country and they become the favorite fabrics for the next centuries, holding strong through several crisis.
Today, it is following this pattern of implantation that the new owners of SOULEIADO since 2009, Daniel and Stephane Richard, have decided to revive the brand, which has always held a special place in the fashion landscape.
Souleaido aficionados can gladly rediscover the beautifully timeless and unique designs inspired by the south of France and its Dolce Vita. As a phoenix reborn of its ashes, SOULEIADO perfectly illustrates the meaning of its Provencal name: the very moment when the sun shines through the clouds after the rain!
Understanding the legacy left by SOULEIADO in the French textile industry landscape.
The ‘indienne” are fabrics that triggered riots, convicted men to forced labor, enriched a region, seduced millions of women in France and worldwide, made the careers of some while destroying the future of others: history is closely woven into that of SOULEIADO and its heritage.
Started at the end of the 16th century in the port of Marseille where the boats bring cotton fabric from India in bright colors, followed by 75 years of prohibition, then by a nationwide success, and a near death, the “indienne’s” history has been mesmerizing generations of entrepreneurs and has a destiny like no other fabrics.
The SOULEIADO brand was created by Charles Deméry in 1939. It is his wife, Helene, who launched in 1947 under the influence of Madame Vachon from Saint-Tropez, a real fashion icon in the south of France, a collection of dresses. Success is quickly here and SOULEIADO becomes a well-known high-end fashion brand.
In 1952, the company employs more than 300 employees and 80% of its sales are made overseas. The 1960’s are a quiet decade and the brand knows a revival at the end of the 1970’s following the arrival of Chantal Thomass as head of design. She embodies the SOULEIADO style from the end of the 1970’s. The brand is recognised for its creativity and is welcomed among the close knit circle of luxury brands. In 1986 the brand has more than 2000 points of sale throughout the world. It is a member of the Comité Colbert and sports proudly the colors of Provence.
However, SOULEIADO slowly sinks back to sleep in its Hotel d’Aiminy and its museum, a witness of its magnificent past…
The magicians of SOULEIADO’s rebirth: a new life
In April 2009, Daniel and Stephane RICHARD, both born in Provence, buy SOULEIADO. They decide to give the brand a new life.
In SOULEIADO’s hotel particulier in the heart of Tarascon, a new team digs deep into the brand’s legacy, its thousand of textile, print blocks and drawing archives, a real treasure hunt spanning 360 years of collecting the heritage of the last “indienneurs”, the “indienne” prints manufacturers.
The brand is back in the fashion landscape and once again delights women.
Patterns and prints, timeless designs, SOULEIADO is a style and a way of life. The designs go through the generations whilst being constantly reinvented.
From mother to daughter, the clothes, scarfs and accessories are preciously kept and transmitted down the generations. A brand that is timeless and its fashion liked by all ages and walks of life.
SOULEIADO is also the multiple faces of the women from the South: This radiant woman on the Riviera, provocative and sexy, who loves bright colors highlighting her curves, her tan and her hair; it is also this woman close to her natural environment, who loves natural fibers such as wool, leather, and who, comfortable in her “Gardian” boots, walks freely around her “manade”, a farm in the region of Camargue….
SOULEIADO doesn’t forget its history and the brand also designs for men, especially shirts. In Camargue, none can ignore the pride of the “gardian” sporting his distinctively colored SOULEIADO shirt in bull races so that his family can easily recognise him from the other competitors. And let’s not forget Picasso, who also enjoyed the Dolce Vita of the south of France dressed in his SOULEIADO shirts…
Winning back France from the Provencal territory: a bet soon won!
Twenty shops spread across its Provencal territory from Montpellier to the Italian border, SOULEIADO deploys its strategy from the south of France to Paris and overseas. The latest shops opened in Antibes, Saint Raphael, Nîmes Cap Costiere, Toulon Grand Var Est, Menton and Hyeres in France, Southampton NY in the USA, and soon in Hong Kong.
“One has to go back to its core, renew with the fundamentals of its origin, accept the ethnicity of the brand to reconquer the hearts of clients who never forgot the light and colors of Souleiado and were waiting impatiently for the sleepy Provencal princess to wake up again” explains director Stephane Richard.
A rich textile heritage, enthusiastic and passionate employees (80 to date, 20 of them at the head office in Tarascon), talented fashion designers creating clothes that are sensuous, using noble fabrics (sheep’s wool comes from the Crau), multiple prints, a mainly French and highly qualitative manufacturing and efficient logistics have allowed SOULEIADO to experience an annual growth of 70%. Patterns shift and change to the rhythm of seasons and the profile of clients, from young to traditional. The strength of its long history is a witness of its achievement.
With 20 shops in France – 18 in the south, one in Paris and another one in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 23 points of sale in Japan and a flagship store in Tokyo, a brand new store in Southampton NY, USA and another opening very soon in Hong Kong – and with projects in Italy and Switzerland, SOULEIADO is back for the greater enjoyment of all!