Interview with Mathilde, founder of Tildé
I’m so happy about all the positive feedback the first interview received. You know what this means…here comes another one! This week, we are meeting my Brusselier girl crush Mathilde who gives old sarees a new life. Let’s discover her brand Tildé.
Hi Mathilde! Thank you for joining the project. You are the owner of Tildé, a Brussels based label.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and about your brand?
I’m Mathilde, originally from France and I’ve lived in Brussels for 8 years. I fell in love with Indian fabrics and their unique prints, while travelling in India in Spring 2018. Tildé is a slow fashion brand based on the upcycling concept. We create totally unique pieces with second-hand Indian sarees (these traditional clothes that Indian women drape themselves in). All Tildé pieces are are designed in Belgium (by me!), and ethically made in a small family-owned factory in Rajasthan where I spend 3 weeks to prepare each Collection.
Why old sarees?
I’ve got a bit of a love story with India. When starting Tildé, it was paramount for me to use sustainable materials, being aware of the environmental impact of the fashion industry on the planet… I first looked at organic cottons, but it became clear that re-using pre-worn fabrics would be the most responsible thing to do. That’s why I decided to go for second-hand sarees. I also love the fact that each piece is completely unique and tells the story of the Indian woman that wore this saree before it became a Tildé.
How did you make the decision to start your own brand?
It’s still a mystery how I decided to start Tildé, as I’ve had no formal education or experience in fashion before. I would have never imagined that what started as a summer hobby (Tildé first collection travelled to Belgium in a backpack!) would turn into a fair fashion brand. Now, I’m so happy designing the Tildés, using my creativity to create new pieces and getting to meet with the Tildé community.
I understand it was just you at first, but not anymore. Who do you work with now and how do you source your materials?
It’s still me doing most of the work, to be honest. But I’m lucky enough to have amazing friends who provide support when needed, for example assisting with the creative markets, photoshoots and the website. Also, Natacha joined Tildé in February 2020 for an internship. She brings her creative flair and knowledge about social media to improve Tildé branding and communication. About sourcing the sarees… The factory I work with is also the place where I get to browse hundreds of sarees to choose from. It took me some time to find a tailoring workshop that meets high standards of fairness and sustainability. I source my fabrics from there and we work hand-in-hand with the team of Indian tailors on prototypes, patterns and technical details.
What’s your favourite part about what you do and what is the most difficult?
I love meeting the Tildé community, having them coming over to the Showroom and finding their very unique piece. I also enjoy spending time in India, going through hundreds of second-hand sarees and working with the team of tailors on patterns, prototypes. It’s so fun to work with them, to drink chaï and I value their technical expertise on the making side. Communication with the Indian team becomes difficult when I’m not present and it’s a bit stressful to monitor production from distance. I’m also having troubles managing my huge to-do lists and getting organised, as I’m still learning how to work freelance.
Lately the interest in sustainable fashion has been growing. What do you think makes upcycled garments so special?
In terms of environmental impact, upcycled garments are scoring very low, simply because you don’t need to use up resources to produce new materials (as opposed to organic cotton, for example, which still requires lots of water to grow). There are so many beautiful fabrics waiting to be used, why not do something with them, instead of always producing more new goods from scratch?
What’s next for you?
Hopefully, and depending on how confinement goes, the Showroom and shops will re-open soon. I’m looking forward to having a stand at creative markets again. A Winter collection is in the pipe. I’ve got lots of ideas on how to turn these sarees into Winter pieces such as long skirts, shirts with long sleeves… Eventually, I’d like to grow Tildé and maybe find a business partner whom I can share the workload with.
And finally, if you had one thing to say to people who want to start their own business, what would it be?
Go for it, it’s exciting and rewarding, no two days are the same, but be ready to work A LOT!