I recently started venturing deeper into the pre-owned and New Old Stock (NOS) menswear territory, as illustrated in my previous coverage on Drop93, predominantly since this is one way I could incorporate sustainable principles into my habits.
So far, my experience assures me that this is a concrete way to preserve well-made garments from the past, while practically reducing textile wastage. Plus, this also serves as an excellent opportunity for us to try out previously unfamiliar brands.
Ultimately, this brought my attention to AU DRÔLE DE ZÈBRE, a Bordeaux-based online second-hand seller specialized in offering Anglo-French classic menswear and accessories.
I had a chat (over Zoom) with the man behind the scene, Gregory Barrois, to learn more about his work. In today's article, I will be sharing with you the brilliant conversation we had, alongside a deep-dive look at the brand. Enjoy.
Greg's menswear journey is one that resonates with many young enthusiasts.
During his first job, he was hooked onto the world of quality tailoring and footwear, after realizing the tremendous craftsmanship and sustainable practices that go into their making.
Nonetheless, like many of us, Greg quickly realized the pay for the average entry-level job would not be sufficient for developing a classic menswear wardrobe, especially if he only opts for first-hand garments.
On top of that, living in Bordeaux also means that he would have limited access to renowned menswear brands that are otherwise readily available in metropolises, like London.
With all the cards being unfavorable to him, he turned to online selling platforms, where many hidden menswear gems are at. Eventually, with a decade-long self-training as a buyer for close friends and a small range of clients, Greg is now unquestionably prolific in the field, in which he started AU DRÔLE DE ZÈBRE around six months ago.
Moving onto the shop itself, one aspect that I consider AU DRÔLE DE ZÈBRE may appeal to certain readers is that it offers various styles.
Apart from the occasional vintage tailoring, alongside new and old luxury pieces, Greg also offers more casual pieces, including leather jackets and sneakers.
It's inevitable, he explains, that becoming a father just prevents him from wearing classic menswear as often. But still, he wants to wear something that is causal yet well-made. Hence, he wants to offer his customers who share similar issues a broader range of options as well.
In any case, I think readers who don't wear tailoring as much, or at least as much as before the pandemic, may find it attractive.
But I'm aware that to some, a shop that has too many styles, let alone offerings that come in different levels of craftsmanship, would be rather confusing.
One of the purposes of this write-up, as a matter of fact, is to pinpoint the gems which I personally find intriguing on his site. Pieces that have special historical value, made by well-acclaimed brands, and so forth. Hopefully, you may find this piece of information helpful.
The first of such is tailoring from houses that are often mentioned in many classic menswear-related sites.
These brands usually include Camps de Luca, Cifonelli, Smalto, etc. They are mostly from France, well, for obvious reasons. Occasionally, you can also find pieces from brands that no longer exist or special collaborations items such as Hermès jackets that are made by Cifonelli.
Some of them are, perhaps, not something I would wear considering it is not the tailoring style that I usually go for. But again, this is only my personal preference and not a guide.
Nonetheless, considering how these pieces are sourced, they are usually one-offs that come in a particular size. Hence, my word of advice is to check out their page every now and then to see if there are pieces that float your boat.
Alternatively, Greg has expressed that he is more than happy to be in touch, shall you have anything specific in mind.
Additionally, there are several brands from which AU DRÔLE DE ZÈBRE stocks a sizeable number of products.
JM Weston, for example, is one of them. For those who are unfamiliar with them, JM Weston produces some of the finest RTW shoes that are strictly made in France. It comes as no surprise that the brand is oftentimes said to be synonymous with quality for many French customers.
As of writing, there are a few pairs of Weston's famous "180" loafers alongside some sneakers that are offered on the site.
Seraphin is another brand that I find quite fascinating. As a top-end Parisian leather craftsman that has manufactured leather jackets for top-tier brands including Hermès, Seraphin had its recent revival around 10 years ago when it started producing its in-house jackets and coats.
Now, it's worth noting that producing in-house often translates as the design being more subtle and the price likewise being more favorable. Certainly, it's a brand to keep an eye on.
Finally, there is also a range of other items, namely ties from ARNYS or scarves from Johnstons of Elgin that may interest fellow readers. It goes without saying that there are many more brands for you to discover.
But AU DRÔLE DE ZÈBRE would be less distinguishable from any other second-hand menswear seller if it's not for its sustainably-conscientious view towards packaging.
Here's a premise. One aspect in which luxury and top-quality menswear brands may come under other fashion brands in terms of sustainable practices is predominantly the former's emphasis on the unboxing experience.
And this is, perhaps, understandable. For instance, when the customer is selling his/ her kidneys (only kidding) just to afford a Row-priced bespoke suit, he or she often expects more than the product itself. A well-curated package is almost mandatory.
Greg used to have the same belief as well. Even though he is selling discounted pre-owned items that cost a fraction of the original price, he insisted that he should still offer the best customer experience he could. After all, the customer is still expecting a luxury product.
However, this is no excuse. The box could be coated with layers of plastics or printed with non-biodegradable ink that reduces its overall recyclability. Moreover, in Greg's words, the unboxing experience only offers 5 minutes of pleasure. Afterward, the box still cannot escape from its fate from being thrown away.
His solution is to switch from using the boxes he had commissioned in China, which are cheap yet high in carbon footprint (considering they are shipped halfway across the globe), and to utilize what is readily available in his local area — wine boxes that are waiting to be upcycled.
Needless to say, the wine box is certainly a more sustainable alternative, as it avoids new packaging from being created in the first place; not to mention this also adds a touch of the local character.
I like AU DRÔLE DE ZÈBRE. It's a brand that practically champions sustainability and intends to democratizes the luxury market.
Considering the brand is still new, there will be more interesting features to be added to the brand in the months to come. Greg did unveil that he is aiming to improve the interactiveness between the customer and the product, even though the shop will remain online.
This is an issue that often prevents customers from shopping second-hand remotely, and any means to bridge the gap will most definitely be a welcome one.
By the way, Greg has also offered a 10% discount to readers that may be interested to shop from his site. The coupon code is 'suitstainable'. Just to clarify, I take no payment from AU DRÔLE DE ZÈBRE for the content.
All images are by AU DRÔLE DE ZÈBRE. Many thanks again to Greg for the chat.