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Be careful, this store is likely to clash with fast fashion
Be careful, this store is likely to clash with fast fashion
Be careful, this store is likely to clash with fast fashion

At the heart of manufacturing made in France: visit to the Kiplay workshops in Normandy

Today, we visited the Kiplay manufacturing workshops in Normandy, more precisely in Saint-Pierre d'Entremont, located just 60 km south of Caen. Sun at the zenith, Norman stone houses, cows, small...

Today, we visited the Kiplay manufacturing workshops in Normandy, more precisely in Saint-Pierre d'Entremont, located just 60 km south of Caen.

Sun at the zenith, Norman stone houses, cows, small winding roads, flax fields, although we scrupulously followed the signs, we still made a few U-turns before arriving face to face with the large workshop of Kiplay metal.

Kiplay: A tradition of excellence made in France

Right away you will say, rhooo another anglicism for these new brands that are made in France! Oh well! Kiplay is a Living Heritage company (EPV label) which was born in 1921 and already, at that time, having an English name gave the company that little something exotic... We hear you say behind your screen: “ but Kiplay doesn’t mean anything at all, even in English ”, and you are right. Kiplay offers a dressing room “that pleases”, which pleases? Kiplay? Banco, we have the name! And a century later, this family business, which has been passed down from generation to generation, stands high for quality clothing.

Kiplay has always been the specialist in work clothing: today still 95% of their production is professional pieces: pants, construction jackets, rain over-jackets, blue, yellow, orange, stripe fluorescent, in short all equipment that meets current safety standards and norms.

We are warmly welcomed by the Pradal family: Clément, Romane and Marc. Marc is the President of the family business, Clément and Romane, his children. We also learn that the transfer is taking place slowly: currently Clément takes care of purchasing and production, while Romane manages the design office and all the commercial part. We first chat for a little while in the meeting room because it's been a while since we've seen each other, and we've missed them. From the office, a window, through which we can take a look at the clothing workshop and although we remain focused on our discussions, our eyes are always drawn to the machines and the agile hands.
Kiplay currently has 50 employees, at its peak in the 1980s there were 360. At that time competition was raging.
They held, held, held, and at the beginning of the 1980s Kiplay had no other choice than to close its professional outfit manufacturing sector in France to keep only one production line of work. Today, professional clothing is made at the gates of Europe. This is why we are going to devote ourselves to the 5% of the company that manufactures made in France: Kiplay vintage and white label work for other brands.

Kiplay’s Made in France Commitment

The made in France structure of the Kiplay company is constituted as follows:

- The design office: Romane and her team are in charge of the creation and development of patterns, placement of patterns, and the technicality of the products.

- The purchasing and production office: Clément and his team are in charge of purchasing, supplies, finding the right raw materials, sourcing, maintaining the workshop machines, and all production.

- The Workshop (yes with a capital A!): 20 employees and many machines, each more wonderful than the last, some century-old, others with the latest technology. Between 2013 and 2015 a large part of the workshop team retired. It was necessary to recruit upstream so that the first ones could train, transmit and explain their know-how to the new team which is still in place today. We still find photos of the old teams here and there. The workshop is recruiting and growing further.

The atmosphere is good and caring, everyone is active, putting their hearts to work.

The workshop has two activities: Kiplay Vintage + white label work (we explain this to you below), and also 2 production lines: masks and ready-to-wear.

The Kiplay Vintage brand is a family desire to revive old patterns that have fallen into oblivion at the bottom of drawers: moleskin work jackets, overalls, work pants, messenger bags, caps... There, clearly we have a 1920s atmosphere -30 but also jeans from the 50s and 60s. Kiplay also releases new models of jeans over the years and inspirations from the design office.

Besides, how many steps does it take to make a 100% cotton moleskine work jacket?

A. 12 is fast
B. 37, a little more tedious
C. 59, there is clearly work to be done!

The correct answer is C! We asked how long it takes to complete these 59 steps, the team was unable to answer us. Yes, when you love, you don't count!

Alongside this Kiplay Vintage activity, there is also the work…. But kezako? The fashion work consists of making clothes for other brands: Le Slip Français, L'Atelier de la Venise Normande but also Printemps for example. This activity represents 75% of the workshop's production.

We stayed three hours in the workshops, scrutinizing each machine, watching each skillful gesture, asking questions, photographing and filming (to discover on our social networks). It was good, it was wonderful and we came out of the star workshop with our eyes full.

Commitment and quality: Kiplay’s PCR rule

For Kiplay, we follow the PCR rule: Fair price, absolute comfort and robustness of the products. It is also for these 3 reasons that we are so proud to distribute them at L'Appartement Français!

Before leaving, we had a final tour with the Pradal family: presentation of the new products (oh my) and a little flashback to the past with Kiplay pieces manufactured several decades ago...

We thank again from the bottom of our hearts, Clément, Romane, Marc, as well as all the Kiplay teams for the welcome and the time they were willing to devote to us.


Article written by David.

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