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French Shopping, Dining & Lifestyle guide in Singapore

SoChic Stories

Behind AS’FALL with Astou (Part.2)

We were all born unique so let’s embrace what makes us different
Astou

Besides the Senegalese culture, do you draw inspiration from other cultures?

I’m French-Senegalese, I lived in Dakar until I was 12 years. If not very often when people come into the shop, I hear the customers talking to each other and saying “Ah it’s very different, we feel that there is something very chic, something French but we also feel something African” and when I hear that, I say to myself “Well that’s me, I’m Senegalese and French and I’m also Mauritanian”. So, without making an effort, I am necessarily inspired by my roots, you can’t erase what you are and I am happy people feel it when they enter the shop!

What is your approach to slow fashion?

I have this dress called ‘undulating’ since the beginning of AS’FALL and it comes back very often with its embroidery. Everything you see as embroidery or beading is handmade. It takes a day to bead a whole dress (blue dress on picture below) and a strip of embroidery (black dress on picture below) takes 3 days. We also sell some pieces that are more ‘haute couture’ but we stay at mid-range prices. The idea is to make “accessible” clothes. I try to be accessible to the market. I source fabrics from France, Indonesia and Singapore. They send me catalogues, I touch, look, then buy the fabrics that I like and inspire me. I also don’t produce fabric even if I want to because there are studies that show how much we pollute by producing fabric. Everybody should stop producing fabric and use the stock that we have and trust me there is a huge stock in the world. AS’FALL will also always use noble fabrics (linen, silk, cotton…), there will be no polyester and if there is in some materials, it will never be more than 10% because we cannot recycle beyond 10%

How did you develop your client base?

When you’re a small company, the big challenge is the communication strategy and it’s a big job as it’s very expensive. I remember when I first started, we weren’t really on social media. One day, my little brother came to me and said “Hey, there’s this new app that came out, you take pictures and post it online” and I said “Do you think I have time to do that?”. I really didn’t believe it, I didn’t listen to him, I didn’t do it and now I really regret it. So we did the traditional advertising: the posters that we put up everywhere and paid a lot of money for. I used to do it from time to time and then word of mouth started. In a small town, this is really the best way to get known. We give a lot of advice, we accompany a lot, there has never been a sale where we let a customer leave with something that doesn’t fit her. We tell her “no, this is not for you, come back in a month or two, maybe there will be something that suits you better” because if we let our customer leave with an article that doesn’t fit, they won’t feel good, they might not get any compliments, whereas if they feel pretty, they’ll get a million compliments and that’s it, that’s an acquired customer and they will come back every month.

Do you use social networks now?

We mainly communicate through our website and Instagram. Thanks to social medias now, we even have clients who come back every week and we have to tell them to regularly check our Instagram account to see if we’ve posted anything new otherwise there is nothing new coming in the shop.

When I first came in Singapore, I thought “Ok we’re going to start do something on Instagram” because everyone was telling me that we should and my little brother was right, we really do sell through social networks. There are times when we post a new design ‘coming soon’ and we don’t even have time to bring it into the shop as everyone already reserved all the stock. I can promote 10 designs and post them on Instagram for example and 2 days later, we have around 15 messages of reservation. It’s amazing how sometimes we really don’t have time to put the clothes on the website because by the time we take a picture and put it online it’s already sold out.

Thank you very much for your time Astou! – So Chic Team and IFS students

French Shopping, Dining & Lifestyle guide in Singapore