The seasons are changing, the heat is rising and the rainy season is about to bring some sweet relief to the steamy streets of Saigon. With this in mind, we’re celebrating the great outdoors this month, in all its technicolour diversity. We’ve got a brand profile story on outdoor label RAINS, who have harnessed the power of the wilderness and turned it into one of the coolest outerwear labels around. We have hand-picked a selection of outdoors essentials to ensure that whatever the weather, you are prepared. And last but not least, French-born local designer Valerie Cordier reveals how she finds inspiration for her bags in some Vietnam’s most beautiful natural landscapes.
Get out there and explore!
Here’s our round up of this season’s outdoor essentials, to ensure you’re prepared, whatever the weather.
1. Praxis torch, essential for happy camping
2. Sunday Somewhere shades, for sunny spells
3. Fold up bag by Baggu
4. Dr. Denim shorts
5. Marshall Artist waterproof jacket, for when the heavens open
6. Pony Rider wilderness cushion, to rest your weary head after a day outdoors
7. Kapok bracelets
8. Rains waterproof trousers, essential for the 5pm tropical downpour
9. Saigon Charlie’s chili sauce, to pep up your camping BBQ
Our latest collaboration with French-born Saigon-based bag designer, Valerie Cordier has just a landed in stores, exclusive to L’Usine. We caught up with her to find out how she finds her inspiration in the great outdoors.
Where do your ideas come from?
I keep my mind and my eyes open when travelling, I love being out in countryside, meeting new people and having new experiences. There is inspiration everywhere.
What attracted you to Vietnam in the first place?
As I often say, I didn’t choose Vietnam, Vietnam chose me. I came by total accident for a 6-month training project in 2002. Four years ago I decided to I start my own brand. Vietnam really inspires me, and the way I design really fits the way people work here.
Where do you source your fabrics?
I get my ethnic fabrics from a co-operative of women in Northern Vietnam, Mai Chau. I usually use their own design and patterns but I buy my own thread and choose my own colours depending on the season.
Tell us about the skills and crafts involved in the fabric you use?
The fabrics come from north Vietnam, (Mai Chau,) and are weaved by the Tai people. It takes around half a day to weave 1 meter.
They weave it by hand, and honestly when I see the frame with all the thread, I get a headache!
I could not manage it, it is so complex.
I also use a lot of recycled feed bags, and this year cement bags. They are strong and have so many designs that can be adapted to suit any personality.
The leather is from other people’s surplus so when the color is over, I change! This is why the bags are all unique.
What is your favorite place to find fabrics / materials?
For now I would say north Vietnam, but I know I will discover more!
Have you ever had any disasters when sourcing for fabrics?
Yes many! But I keep smiling! I tried to dye a fabric, and it looked great but after a few months I realized the dying burnt the fiber. Problems can still happen as it is all a learning process, but with experience it is less and less thankfully.
What is next for Valerie Cordier?
I want next winter to be all about the Mountains. And hopefully the boys will have their own range soon!
Valerie’s bags are available in an exclusive colour-way for L’Usine, from today.
When you live in a city that rains for almost half the year, a slick raincoat is an essential piece of kit. New to the stores this month is RAINS, a Danish outwear label that will make rainy afternoons soooo much more bearable.
The rainy streets of the Danish capital, Copenhagen, is where the label was born. Modern city life with all its diversity and color and the need for practical outerwear, inspired RAINS. Their dedicated desire to combine style and function became the foundation of the now eponymous brand.
In the world of RAINS, a rainy day becomes beautiful and inspiring and opportunity to produce a modern classic. Motivating people to take inspiration from the outdoors is the core value behind the brand, and one we wholeheartedly salute.
Long live the rainy season!
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