Calla Paris upcycle in style wiht their Boucharouite Project

It was love at first shoe when we came across these super chic and colourful babouches so of course, we had to have them on gOOOders.com, firstly because they fit our brand motto perfectly: Beautiful, Meaningful, and Sustainable! Calla, the designer behind her eponymous brand, kindly spared a few moments to talk to us about how she got started and the magic of collaborating with the Moroccan weavers who also make her own Boucharouite rugs. Delightful. Enjoy!

gOOOders:

Hi Calla, where are we finding you today?

Calla:

Hi! I'm in Paris, in my atelier in the Marais and it’s nice, the weather’s getting sunny and a little warmer.

gOOOders:

Lovely! So, we are big fans of yours and love our Calla Babouches. The gOOOders team loves to explore the stories of the brands and designers that we work with. Our founder, Eva Geraldine, is very dedicated in her selection, she only picks brands and products she really loves. First congratulations on making such beautiful things! Can you tell us how you decided to work with vintage Berber rugs and created the Boucharouite Project?

Calla:

Sure. That project grew slowly with me starting by making my own Boucharouite rugs in Morocco, a project that was born after I started my RTW label. I was left with so much over dead stock of fabric, it was quite overwhelming. The surplus made me a bit nauseous. I wanted to do something meaningful with these, because they were all fabrics that I created myself.

I forgot to say, I'm a textile designer as well. I’ve always admired Boucharouite rugs from, afar, like I do the handicrafts that involve textiles, I'm am very drawn to these. After researching and traveling to Morocco, I found a team that could make rugs for me. This specific type of rugs is typically made from rags, like vintage, old clothes or old ripped up fabric scraps.

For me to hand over brand new silks and cottons and these beautiful fabrics, it felt bit peculiar to the craftsmen. But it was a really magical process of back and forth for a couple of years to create them.

Boucharouite rug by Calla Paris

 

gOOOders:

That sounds like such a wonderful creative process.

Calla:

Yes, and it just grew from there. I was just so in love with the textures of these rugs that I kept on thinking about what kind of accessory I could make out of them.

Very luckily, I have a production manager in Morocco that can make just about anything for me. I ask and he just finds people to make it, and that’s how we did the shoes.

It was just going to be a one-time thing - for a trunk show I was prepping for in Toronto that was related to the rugs. I thought since we're getting all these women together to present the rugs, why can't we show them also something fun and easy, you know, to go home with, to buy instantly? We had 50 pairs of shoes and sold out that night! So I thought maybe we're onto something here.

After that, we started developing like a wholesale network. Especially this year, as it's been challenging for everyone, we’ve focused more into the direct to customer model through my website and Instagram.

gOOOders:

Your Instagram looks very pretty we must note, your babouches and rugs are very enticing. Part of the attraction when we look at your products also comes from the fact that every piece is unique. Can you tell us about that?

Calla:

Yes! I think that's so magical. It's a bit like the rugs I make because they are one-of-a-kind, because the materials are limited and it's a design that I work on, but then the weaver herself adds her spontaneous interpretation to it.

So, it can never be repeated. They're all one of a, same with any Boucharouite rug you find in Morocco is going to be one-of-a-kind. When you cut into it, each pair of shoes is also of a kind, because depending on whether you cut on one side of the rug or another, you're never going to have the same color or pattern placement again.

It really feels exciting to make a product that's so unique when there's only just the one you are getting.

Vintage Boucharouite rug image from which Calla Paris make their babouches

gOOOder:

That’s great for the consumer, but is it easy to market and sell?

Calla:

It’s challenging as a wholesale model to explain that shops, to retailers. And a lot more work for my website because we have to photograph every single pair in each size to share with clients. Then again, I think it has such a cool added value.

gOOOders:

Absolutely. But how did you get there in the first place, you mentioned studying as a textile designer?

Calla:

Yes, I studied fashion design at Parsons in New York. I worked for Olivier Theyskens at Rochas and Nina Ricci, mainly doing textile design.

Then I had my own collection for five years, which had a focus on original prints. Then the Boucharouite project came aftter I decided to put my collection on pause.

gOOOders:

Can we ask why you decided to put the collection on your own brand on pause?

Calla:

Sure, I think just like why any young designer does for like so many reasons, you know.  You can only grow so much and then you just need so much investment to take it to the next level. And after doing it five years, all on my own, I was, I was pretty burnt out.

Back then, in 2014 - 2015, Instagram hadn’t yet transformed into this tool that connects you so directly to your customer, not as easily I think as I can now. And you're so dependent on the wholesale network that can so easily let you down either by not paying or changing their terms, it's a very fragile system.

gOOOders:

That rings true… So now are the new collections solely made out of vintage rugs?

Calla:

The shoes are made from vintage rugs that we source. And when I can travel to Morocco, we go to the market and I just get to rug shop all day long, which is a dream.

gOOOders:

OMG, can we hold your purse?

Calla:

Well now it's all on WhatsApp. Now, I receive messages all day long with just pictures of rugs. And I'll just be like, buy that one, buy that one!

Although I'm still doing the rugs, which are with my own fabrics. After all this time, I still have some fabric leftover, and now I'm also getting fabric from other designers. Either getting donations from other people who just want their fabric to have a use. I have a few different connections through luxury houses, or factories that work for luxury houses. They have leftover scraps, and whether it's two meters or three meters, they get abandoned at the factory and I can give a second life to these.

gOOOders:

And you make wonderful other types of accessories with these scraps as well, which we have also carried like the pillows.

Calla:

Yes, they are good too.  I think like a single pillow will have like maybe 20 different fabrics, all mixed in, all different seasons of Calla textiles, then sometimes there's a little bit of other brands mixed in too.

gOOOders:

We really love how you've worked in the clash of colors and textures. Is this something that you've always sought in your own way?

Calla:

I think that's something I've always been attracted to texture and color, so that's how I sourced the rug. And it is good to have variety because everybody likes something different: some people like chunks of fabric or others like this is kind of like a frizzy yarn, or this is like a very woolly kind of character.

Yes, there's everything and it’s so much fun to work with so many different patterns and colors. I think that's how I was also attracted to work with the women.

And when I do my own rugs to give them sort of free range, because I love the weird clashes they'll make or the patterns they create, I just it's so magical.

gOOOders:

That's fantastic. What’s coming up next for Calla then?

Calla:

Well, we are going to be offering two new sandals soon and then we are working on this more closed toe (or closed back) for Fall which I am yet to show Eva. I am trying to source a sheepskin insole to make them really like snugly and warm.

gOOOders:

Oh, that sounds wonderful, we are really looking forward to these. After summer that is. Calla, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a real pleasure.

 Calla Paris one of a kind babouches made of vintage berber rugs

 

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