The health crisis has accelerated the trend of a return to home-made and craftsmanship, a phenomenon that was already at work before the Covid-19 epidemic and its consequences. More and more French brands, such as Ma petite mercerie or the designer of glasses Vinyl Factory, are investing in this niche that carries strong values, which give meaning to the act of purchasing.
Handmade, DIY and made in France: the new consumer philosophy
Today, many French brands stand out in the hand-made niche. Like Vinyl Factory, a brand of glasses designed in France and produced by hand, whose founder Gad Guigui declares: ” never have we had so much need for quality products. Objects which, by their familiar and reassuring look, by the care taken in their production (…) resist time while reminding us of a time (…) where we still believed in progress ». « Regressive, concludes the entrepreneur, vintage is also and above all synonymous with heritage, know-how, quality and authenticity ». All these values are acclaimed by French consumers and which, against a backdrop of a permanent (health, economic, ecological, etc.) crisis, have continued to seduce and gain market share.
And in this underlying trend, more and more citizens and entrepreneurs are even deciding to change their life and apply the philosophy of ” Do It Yourself (DIY), abandoning overnight the comfort of a well-paid but meaningless job to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure highlighting manual, ancestral, forgotten or about to become know-how. A groundswell on which more and more neo-artisans are surfing, bringing old trades back to life. They are French people, often young, urban and graduates. Thus Olivier Verrièle, director of the Société Choletaise de Fabrication (SCF) and who has taken over a company specializing in laces, cords and jacquards “made in France”. From Caroline Gailly, who bought the Breton biscuit factory Maison Joyeux, which is in decline. Or Véronique Blanc, who went from marketing in a fast food group to growing fine lavender in the Verdon with Bleu d’Argens.
“It’s the fact of not necessarily having the same object as everyone”
For the director of the Higher Institute of Trades (ISM), Alexis Govciyan, “ this type of route is not uncommon. With the economic crisis, many working people are looking for meaning in their professional life. There is a real interest in activities with excellent know-how, the ”Made in France”, natural productions and outside mass consumption circuits. Markets and customers are also increasingly sensitive to it “, Considers the specialist. « It is the fact of not necessarily having the same object as everyone else, and that it is really done by hand, and not by machines ”, abounds a consumer questioned by France Info as part of a report devoted to the renewed interest of the French in crafts.
Ditching everything for a new life, however, is not for everyone. This desire for authenticity and “home-made” therefore translates, for the most DIY enthusiasts, into the exponential craze for DIY: more than a hobby, a passion for some, a real way of life for people. ‘other. Inspired by ” slowlife », The phenomenon intends to reconcile consumption and respect for the environment, by ostensibly turning its back on standardized and disposable products. DIY enthusiasts especially want to reclaim simple knowledge that has been lost for several generations, whether in DIY, gardening, cooking or sewing. Their watchwords: independence and autonomy, repair and recycling – or ” upcycling »-, originality and personalization and finally sharing – testify to this, on the Internet, the hundreds of thousands of blogs and communities devoted to the phenomenon.
Containment and curfew, accelerators of the phenomenon
The health crisis and the successive confinements did the rest. Locked in their homes, the French discovered a passion for handmade. On the American platform Etsy, which connects small artisans and designers with customers from all over the world, the number of stores registered in France has thus jumped by 65% between 2019 and 2020, reaching the record figure of 54,000 sellers – making France the third country, behind the United States and Great Britain, whose creations are most popular. This success can be explained by the fact that “ people are looking for meaning, they have found it in the hand-made. They seek the relationship with the creator as much as the product “, Considers a jewelry designer interviewed by The world.
Far from the billions exchanged on Etsy, its French competitor Ungrandmarché.fr, launched in 2017, has also benefited from repeated confinements and curfews, its turnover rising from 1.3 to 3 million euros in 2020. The same enthusiasm for home-made products is observed at Ma petite mercerie, the French reference for online sewing, whose virtual shelves were taken by storm when surgical masks were lacking and whose turnover was also, jumped by 50% compared to 2019.