Palem was founded by husband and wife duo Selim and Juliette Barken to create responsible and desirable collections
Palem, a brand of clothing and accessories, attaches great importance to using only natural materials or materials derived from plant fibers, and therefore to reducing the environmental impact while facilitating their future transformation.
Attached to slow fashion, they claim to be attentive to the world around them, in particular to preserve it. Aware of the urgency of change — and that in the fashion industry every gesture counts; whether it’s about having greener manufacturing processes or social actions for the men and women who make the collections, the brand’s approach is in tune with the times and evolves every day towards better solutions .
After several years of research and development in the fashion world, Palem was founded in 2019 by husband and wife duo Selim and Juliette Barken to create responsible and desirable collections.
In 2022, they are moving to the United Arab Emirates, with further stores located in Paris and Singapore, and with Bali to follow. Their material selection process and natural compositions are an integral part of the brand. In order to enhance each product, the collections are produced in limited quantities.
Palem adopts a “0 rest” policy, which means that surplus fabrics and scraps are systematically recycled in order to maximize the process. They also attach particular importance to the perfect fit of the garment and the know-how of their Chinese workshops.
Juliette Barkan, co-founder and creative designer of Palem, explained how the brand creates a fashionable green impact. “Our DNA is predisposed to sustainability. We are aware of the environmental impact of the fashion industry and want to do the right thing. At Palem, we limit our effect to four pillars, from design to distribution. »
The design of the brand started from a dream of the couple, wishing to bring their most precious emotion of travel to life, with a sweet and strong name, a tribute to the palm tree of Indonesia.
Coming from a fashion background, Juliette studied fashion at the French Fashion Institute, hence much of her apprenticeship on the production side of the business. Prior to her move to Paris, she spent time in Spain, where she studied the commercial negotiation side of business.
She also spent time in China to take a fashion design course at the Marangoni Institute in 2004. Her stay in Shanghai lasted 15 years, which is also where the idea for Palem was born. The company manufactures its collections in workshops in Shanghai.
“Often wrongly judged by misconceptions, China has exceptional know-how, which is too often undervalued. Originally a country of ancestral textile tradition, China is now undergoing industrial, environmental and social change. Working conditions for Chinese workers have changed significantly over the past 10 years. The scarcity of labor now obliges manufacturers to ensure good working conditions and fair remuneration for their workers. We have audited and supported our factories: this includes wages, working conditions and the environment, but also compulsory insurance,” added Juliette, whose role at Palem is diverse – from developing the brand concept, working on brand DNA, communication, distribution and social network. management in collaboration with the entire brand team globally.
Palem offers a reusable fabric shopping bag instead of plastic bags, ships orders in recyclable paper boxes, adopts organic cotton at the heart of its collections and favors natural materials – among other green approaches.
Doesn’t all of this make buying from them much more expensive from a consumer perspective? Although Juliette acknowledges this, she points to other factors that more than justify the extra expense.
“Yes, it’s more expensive than traditional fashion, but quality is a determining factor in the choice. Sustainable fashion and current fashion are diametrically opposed. This is for environmentalists and “hippies”. Sustainable fashion has a dull image in which options are limited to cotton, hemp and linen. I am totally convinced that to attract customers to sustainable fashion, you have to remain attractive, current and trendy. This is now achievable, thanks to advances in materials and assurances of environmental and social standards at our Palem factories,” she explained.
When asked what was the biggest hurdle in trying to bring about change in the industry, she replied, “Many companies have chosen ‘sustainable fashion’ as a theme, a marketing tool in recent years, and there has been a lot of “greenwashing”. It’s too late to act, but it’s never too late to start. However, it is now difficult to ignore the environmental effect of the fashion industry.
Juliette believes that fashion defines personalities, society and the mood of the times. They are not just clothes or accessories but a reflection of our society; and certainly a means of expression for designers and consumers.
Highlighting how design can be affected when it comes to adapting sustainable routes, she added: “On the design side, the approach to sustainable fashion is centered on the choice of materials. Textile manufacturers have significantly expanded their offering of sustainable materials, starting with recycled materials (polyester, silk, wool) and progressing to environmentally friendly materials such as viscose.”
Several years ago, the options were quite limited and quite basic, which discouraged designers from following this approach. But she feels there have been significant advances towards expensive materials with a very intricate finish.
“Of course, the cost of sustainable materials is 20-30% higher, but that’s part of the process. This strategy has allowed us to connect with workshops in India that focus on natural, plant-based dyeing, allowing us to explore new production techniques,” she revealed.
Palem was developed out of Juliette’s personal affection for travel, style and above all the ideology of endless summers. She wanted to bring to life a concept that would make people feel like the summer season never really ends.
“I believe in looking good and feeling good in our clothes and with a mix of terracotta, ochre, ecru and eucalyptus mixed in prints and materials that are all eco-friendly, we can achieve that,” she signed.