The closet of a vagabonde #1
In the wardrobe of traveller Amélie Pichard, from Paris to Medellín.
You are the cofounder of the web design, branding and graphic design agency Iconink. You have worked for 5 years as a digital nomad. You lived in France, Italy, Australia, Argentina, Indonesia and now, Colombia. You moved around a lot and for long periods of time. Tell us a little bit about your journey and what is now an indispensable part of your wardrobe.
How was your first departure? How many suitcases did you take? What did you carry and what did you leave?
My first solo trip was in Australia. Australia is a sort of dream destination for a lot of French people and it's been a wonderful experience! I didn't speak English well, I didn't have a place to live, nothing! I left with two suitcases, that was definitely too much... When I decided to do a road trip in a van, I realised how many things I had which I didn't need here: books, high heels, clothes for outings and many cosmetics.
Then, I went to backpack in Argentina so it was very limited, and in fact, I liked this constraint. It forced me to take only what was essential.
After Argentina, I returned to Australia but this time I was in a relationship so I was not in “traveller” mode but rather in a “I'm moving here and I want to look pretty for my boyfriend” mode.
And finally, when I had to pack my things for Colombia thinking I might live there, I thought cautiously about what I was going to take with me asking myself a very simple question: do I need this?
After Australia, you spent a few months in Bali and finally settled in Medellin, in Colombia. Did your dressing evolve according to your destinations?
Is it the places or age? My dressing evolved a lot with my age and my awareness. It's now imperative for me to consume local products and to pay attention to materials.
I should say though, that in Bali, temptations are plenty! There are so many beautiful shops offering trendy clothes. That's the case in Australia as well. On the other hand, Colombia is different, it's not the same fashion. The style here is very different, and as a French woman, I don't identify with it.
What do you mean by “as a French woman”? What is left of “French style”?
Sobriety, searching for that nice little detail, material that falls or drapes well...Those little things that produce elegance.
The difference in style between France and Colombia is obvious. Here, women are very sexy, whereas in France, I feel like we don't believe in showing everything but rather kindling curiosity. We don't go half naked but look more for enhancing the parts of our body and our face that we like. We underline certain traits and let people guess. It's as if we had certain dressing rules written in our DNA: we don't wear a miniskirt with a transparent top and a red lipstick. For example, we associate a miniskirt with a top without a deep neckline and make a different combination with a transparent top, like jeans and lipstick if the eyes are not too made-up. In Colombia, you can easily meet women who wear a miniskirt, a transparent top and lipstick all together. Personally, I don't find it very elegant.
Indeed, the criteria for elegance clearly differ from country to country and even from person to person. On a daily basis, what do you look for in your style?
I look for basics, pieces that match well with each other. Usually, I opt for simple materials and colours for tee-shirts and jeans which I like to sometimes match with another piece that's very colourful or with a geometrical pattern... And I try to have organic clothes in my wardrobe.
It's still not easy to find items with style that satisfy my criteria. For example, in lingerie, it's really difficult to find something pretty and eco-friendly. I hope it happens soon!
How do you buy your clothes? What directs your choice?
Before, I used to buy a lot online and this allowed me to acquire branded clothes with good discounts. But the internet is a trap. You don't try it and very often, you get tempted by an item without knowing if the material is beautiful to touch and that the cut suits you.
That's why today I only buy clothes that I like a 100%, that suit me very well and that I need. I don't want to fill my cupboard with clothes that I don't wear. And of course, I pay attention to labels. I prefer materials that consume fewer resources and that are recycled and produced locally.
In Colombia, the choice of clothes is limited as far as style is concerned, as I already mentioned, but there are more and more local brands with sustainable production and nice, simple cuts. You have to look out for them.
So, my wardrobe now has 2-3 pairs of jeans, shorts and dresses and a bunch of nice T-shirts. That's all I need. Furthermore, since I have less of a choice, it's a lot faster to know what I'm going to wear in the morning and it's the same satisfaction as when I have my cupboards full of clothes.
What evolution would you like to see in the fashion industry?
More ethical clothes with organic materials and fewer chemicals. Also, I want to know. I want to have access to information regarding the production conditions, consumption of ressources, materials used and whether or not there was chemical treatments.
Today, clothes meeting my criteria that are stylish are very expensive and those that are less expensive are not necessarily nice. And as I already said, there is not a lot going on with nice organic lingerie.
In short, I would like less fads and more continuity. The idea of collection seems outdated, I prefer brands that focus on creating clothes that go well with each other to create different outfits with some pieces and this, across seasons and even years. I would also like transparency at every stage of the production with concerns about reducing contamination on our environment and being more fair to people who works in producing them.
What is your next suitcase? Destination + must haves?
It will be minimalist! I am planning a roadtrip in South America. The aim is to go with just one backpack. So I will take the strict minimum, only comfortable clothes which suit me well and go well together!
My must haves are many tee-shirts, a warm and cool sweater, cool shoes, a pair of jeans and shorts. And ¡Vamos!