Garbstore Meets...Marc Beaugé, Co-Founder of French Magazine L’Étiquette
Garbstore Meets...Marc Beaugé, Co-Founder of French Magazine L’Étiquette
L’Étiquette is something of an anti-fashion fashion magazine. Instead of focusing on what’s being worn on the runway, the Parisian publication is first and foremost ‘interested in clothes as people really wear them’. Although its first five issues were in French, L’Étiquette has been able to garner an international following since its launch in 2018, prompting the release of an English edition for Issue 6. This latest issue flew off the shelves, so if you can’t get your hands on a copy, we can highly recommend L’Étiquette’s Instagram and monthly newsletter, ‘Obsessions’, both of which are incredibly good at situating clothes in a broader cultural context. We caught up with L’Étiquette’s editorial director, Marc Beaugé, to ask him about the making of Issue 6 as well as all things clothing and print-related.
Garbstore: In the opening section of Issue 6, you feature a variety of well-dressed creatives. Each one introduces themself and explains how they got into clothing in the first place, be it via hand-me-downs or a bank-breaking first investment piece. I thought a nice way to start would be by asking you to do the same.
Marc: I’ve been a journalist for about 15 years. I worked as a football journalist for years at L’Équipe, and I also wrote about music for a long time. I’ve interviewed a lot of politicians and done investigative journalism as well. Clothing has always been a passion of mine and has become part of my job in the last few years. Where does my interest come from? Maybe from my great-grandfather, who was a tailor himself? Maybe from music? At the age of 20, I wrote a long piece on the use of the tie in rock culture, from Brian Ferry to Kurt Cobain. I realised then that dressing said a lot about people and time. Fashion and clothing is an industry, a business and even a circus quite often as well. But more importantly, it’s a culture.
Garbstore: For the introduction to the English edition of Issue 6, you republished the mission statement that was originally featured in Issue 1. For those who are new to L’Étiquette, could you summarise the introduction and explain why you decided to set up ‘yet another fashion magazine’?
Marc: The message is that L’Étiquette does not regard clothing as just an industry. I think this is what differs us from other fashion magazines. Our purpose is not to be a springboard for brands or a mere outlet for LVMH. We have advertisers and brands we like and can promote, but we’re never a slave to them. We promote a culture and a vision of clothing focused on quality and honesty. Each piece of clothing has a meaning and a history. By telling them, we hope that people become more conscious of what they buy and, in the end, become more stylish. Nobody wants to be a victim, and I’m sure nobody wants to be a victim of fashion. Hopefully our readers never are, because they know about what they wear.
Photo via Les Rhabilleurs
Garbstore: I heard you mention in an interview that making the English edition was not just a matter of translating the ‘words’, but also the magazine’s ‘spirit’. Firstly, with the words, how did you approach the magazine’s tone of voice, as this is a notoriously tricky issue that translators spend a lot of time grappling with?
Marc: Indeed, we paid great attention to this, as it wasn’t an easy task. When I read over the English translation, I thought there was still this particular, witty tone with touches of irony and self-mockery. I guess it’s very French, but we didn’t want to lose it in the English edition. We take clothing very seriously but we write about it playfully. We try, at least.
Garbstore: Regarding the magazine’s spirit, it does strike me that there is a certain Frenchness to the magazine—or a je ne sais quoi—that’s integral to the aesthetic of L’Étiquette. Do you think that there even is a certain French style or aesthetic, however, and if so, what are some of its hallmarks?
Marc: Gauthier Borsarello, Basile Khadiry and myself are profoundly influenced by the aesthetic and style of our French culture and background. We’re happy to promote French brands such as Hermès, J.M. Weston, Hollington, Saint James, Le Minor and Good Life abroad. It’s great to display French knowledge and heritage, especially as the industry is suffering. Yet we’re very curious and open-minded about all sorts of styles, so we embrace clothing cultures from across the world. We like made-to-measure suits from Rome and espadrilles from Spain as much as American sweatshirts and leather jackets. We enjoy all styles of dress so long as it’s quality clothing. We’re obsessed with quality.
Garbstore: As an Englishman, the name ‘L’Étiquette’ brings to mind the etiquette manuals that were prevalent in the Victorian era; these were essentially guidebooks that laid down the rules for manners as well as clothing.L’Étiquette, although far gentler in tone, has similar didactic intentions as well (it is, after all, a ‘guide’), and this is something that chimes with a lot of Japanese publications, which are often known for being quite manual-like. Be it clothing-related or something more abstract, what would you say, if anything, are the rules of etiquette for our times that you hope L’Étiquette will pass onto its readers?
Marc: We sometimes mention rules, but we never consider them to be strict laws, gospel or anything like that. A lot of them are based on historical stories, so they’re cultural, and we take them just as they are. Fun facts, essentially. But dressing shouldn’t be decided by a set of 200-year-old rules. It should be fuelled by ideas and curiosity. This is what we try to show in L’Étiquette.
Garbstore: The success of L’Étiquette and the many other magazines published by So Press are evidence that print is very much alive. Not every publisher has the Midas touch of So Press, however, so what do you think it is that you guys are doing differently?
Marc: We write for readers, not for advertisers. It’s all about creating bonds of trust with readers: L’Étiquette gives style advice to please readers, not brands; So Foot talks about football to please readers, not football institutions; Tsugi writes on music to please readers, not record labels; etc. We invest in quality journalism, unlike the many press groups who have perhaps forgotten their actual readers and put too much money into marketing strategies. We haven’t forgotten who’s reading our magazines, and I think this is key for the continuance of the current print industry.
Garbstore: The subtitle of L’Étiquette is ‘A Guide to Men’s Clothing’, yet you make a point of featuring both men and women in the magazine, with Fran Lebowitz and Daniel Day-Lewis being the style ‘heroes’ for Issue 6. Lebowitz was a particularly interesting person to feature in this regard given her penchant for items of clothing that have traditionally been viewed as quite masculine, like her tuxedo buttoned ‘on the men’s side’ from Anderson & Sheppard. With this in mind, how would you define the ‘men’s clothing’ that you feature, and what do you make of the movement towards androgynous fashion in relation to print media, which has often had quite rigid target demographics insofar as gender is concerned?
Marc: L’Étiquette isn’t about men. It’s about men’s clothing, and many of these clothes are also worn by women. That’s why we’re very happy to have women featured in the magazine. We also don’t have any demographic target, and we don’t do any marketing studies at all. But the curent discussions about unisex clothing do raise an interesting question: will we dress our models with clothes that were historically designed for women one day? We like to promote simple styles that are wearable in everyday life, even when you don’t work in fashion. So we haven’t featured guys in dresses yet, but who knows, perhaps one day? As I said, you have to be open-minded and curious. Style doesn’t stand still.
Garbstore: L’Étiquette’s cultural references are impressively eclectic. For example, the May edition of ‘Obsessions’ featured the likes of Pete Doherty and Buzz Aldrin—two names that rarely show up on the same page, let alone in the context of clothing. I’ve also really enjoyed watching the scenes you’ve featured from shows like The Office—the one about the buttons again relates to your Lebowitz interview. What are some of the ways in which you go about finding these references?
Marc: We embrace all types of culture: pop culture, ‘high’ culture (art, literature, music, etc.), politics, quality fashion... Clothes are ubiquitous. We all eat and we all dress. Even the people who don’t care about style make a choice every morning when they stand in front of their wardrobe. Everyone has something to say about their clothes, and we want to listen to what bosses, rappers, dealers, ordinary people and less ordinary people have to say.
Issue 6 was actually left on a bit of a cliffhanger (albeit a minor one), as the bottom of the credits page reads as follows: ‘Next issue: September or October 2021. Who knows?’ I also heard you give some teasers in a recent interview about L’Étiquette’s upcoming projects, some of which—like the e-commerce—sounded imminent. So, what can L’Étiquette’s readers expect from the magazine in the near future?
Marc: We’re about to launch several projects: a website with some exclusive content, an online shop, a podcast in English, videos—lots of things are coming. We hope they’ll be quality, but perhaps you can tell us!
The English version of L’etiquette’s latest SS21 issue is available now from https://letiquette.so/