Since 1990, French manufacturer Mode & Compagnie has maintained strict control over the design and quality of the swimwear and lingerie it licenses and develops.
What began as a private label developer for high-end stores, such as Galleries Lafayette, expanded rapidly with the purchase of the Morgan de Toi license for a line of swimwear. Morgan is one of the many high fashion stores gracing the Champs Elysess that is geared to young women.
In 1997, Mode & Compagnie began producing the IODUS line, exclusive beachwear and swimwear found in Printemps and Neiman Marcus. Then in 1998, Mode & Compagnie expanded the Morgan catalog by creating the license for the company's lingerie, and then in 2001 acquired the license for NAF NAF swimwear.
With swimwear lines averaging between 120 to 150 pieces (IODUS has fewer) per year, and lingerie lines upward of 160 pieces per year, Mode & Compagnie has its plate full, but not too full. "We manufacture a little more than 1.2 million garments a year, and we're far from reaching our maximum," noted Arielle Lockie, a Mode & Compagnie representative, during Apparel's stop at Mode & Compagnie during a Lectra-sponsored press tour late last year.
All of Mode & Compagnie's patterns are designed in-house at the firm's Toulouse, France, facility using Lectra's Modaris and Optiplan. Once the patterns are made, the fabric is spread and cut, using Lectra Vector 2500 cutters and Brio spreaders. Mode & Compagnie can cut and spread between 10,000 and 12,000 pieces a day on this equipment.
From there, pieces are either sent to the sewing room or sourced out for assembly. The Toulouse sewing room accommodates short runs and garments that require more high-tech production skills. Only about 20 percent of production is done in France, including all of the IODUS line. The remainder is outsourced. The company has its own facility in Tunisia with approximately 90 employees, and also collaborates with a factory in Bulgaria employing approximately 200 to 300. The company maintains strict quality control in both factories and is currently targeting ISO 9000 certification.
Color control remains a primary concern for the company. "Color control is a key issue for Mode & Compagnie because in lingerie and swimwear, color is so very important," noted Lockie.
As for the future, Mode & Compagnie has not ruled out taking in new licenses or creating new lines, nor the possibility of opening its own retail shops. But for now, the firm is content to design and produce in France. "There are not so many companies in France who specialize in what we do, who have the know-how, and can bring this kind of service. We take it step by step because we have to be able to do our work very well."