Words by Jacob Glantz
“We are not looking to fit in. We just do our stuff, and wait for people to like it”.
Matisse Picaud, co-founder of Squar
From the first edition of Vogue printed in 1892, to the latest Zara collection pumped out onto the consumerist conveyor belt, it seems that fashion as a market, be it haute couture, streetwear, boutique, or fast, has often been controlled by a handful of very powerful individuals. They tell us what trends are in, what trends are out, and on what we should be spending our money; a top-down approach of sartorial autocracy. So, it was incredibly fascinating to speak with Matisse - an artistically appropriate name if I’ve ever heard one - who has decided with his friend and colleague, Loann, to pioneer a community-driven and sustainability-focused approach to this billion-dollar industry, by way of a new brand called Squar.
Squar: an unusual name. I’m told that it is based on the geometric shape, the Squar, that in both its name and aesthetic, is clean and precise. Matisse tells me that “the name actually was more of an aesthetic point of view, because the square is pretty minimalistic - it’s a raw shape. We liked the name, and we liked the shape.” It is a name without pretence, without ostentation. Unlike the maximalist and eponymously titled Guccis and Versaces to which one is accustomed to hearing in the fashion world, Squar stands out as exceptional in its apparent un-exceptionality. It is naïve, modest, and, above all, minimal.
“We wanted to create a real brand with something behind it” Matisse tells me. They weren’t after just a brand name or a recognisable logo. In an age where cash is king, and two interlocking letters can garner several thousand pounds, regardless of the garment’s actual quality or design, Squar are “putting the clothes before the logo and the brand”. To them, the design and construction of their clothes, and the integrity of their idea, comes before any logomania or monogram madness.
When I ask what it is exactly that Squar wish to put behind their name and logo, what it is exactly that they represent, Matisse says, minimalism. Squar is minimalism incarnate: “we like minimalism because you keep only the important stuff, and it makes the details more pronounced. If you put on a piece that has lots of details, for me, you must be very minimalistic in the rest of your outfit - it has to be done well.”
The devil, and when it comes to fashion, the delight, is in the details. As one can see, the details on Squar’s pieces - the hardware, stitching, and printing - are impeccably crafted. At a distance, the garments are simple and understated, but on closer inspection, the perfection and precision are in the details. The quality of the design and manufacturing, as well as the highly developed concept behind the brand, is obvious.
As more brands should be in this day and age, Squar is also deeply concerned with environmental matters, and has established itself as a sustainable company. “We chose only 100% natural fabrics, so, only non-synthetic fabrics”, which are far less damaging to the environment than synthetic ones. They are working towards a more sustainable future, where all collections will only be available for pre-order, meaning that production numbers will be limited, and no resources will go to waste. Evidently, Squar is committed to the fight against climate change. They are committed to being a brand that produces clothes that are kind to the environment. Squar do not use any pre-dyed fabrics: their current Ecru collection consists solely of un-dyed, naturally coloured garments, whose production is eco-friendly with a raw and earthy aesthetic to match.
For each collection, Squar hosts a creative workshop for around ten people. This is an opportunity for people to meet, brainstorm, reflect, imagine, discuss, and create. The Squar team gather these ideas and rework them into their collection. Their clothes are a blank canvas, prepped and primed to be worked on and turned into truly unique fashion pieces by a team of creatives. “It’s co-creating. We are making a collection with the consumer, so it’s an exchange of creativity.”
This co-creation, this “exchange of creativity” is to blur the line between producer and consumer, democratising fashion, and bringing the power to create to the people. It is an idea that brings to its knees the age-old tradition of designer dictatorship, wherein we obediently buy that which we are told we want. It is to revolutionise the industry and kickstart a new approach of community, cooperation, and connection.
After their first highly successful workshop, centred around the theme ‘Renewal’, Squar would like to expand this artistic process of co-creative workshopping across the globe. “We want to have a little team in each big city, and be able to create in that city. The basic models will be all the same everywhere, but the creativity will be cultural to the community of that city. There are no brands currently doing that.” Squar will be.
To find out more, check out Squar’s website or follow them on Instagram!