It marks us. “French women are the thinnest women in Europe”: Patrice Kretz, CEO of Chantelle

Chantelle is one of the world leaders in lingerie. Illustrative photo (LETIZIA MCCALL / THE IMAGE BANK RF / GETTY IMAGES)

Chantelle is one of the world leaders in lingerie thanks to its brands: Chantelle, Passionata, Chantal Thomass, Darjeeling and others, better known abroad than in France. More than half of the 365 million annual turnover (before the crisis) is actually achieved abroad. The company has 4,500 employees.

Chantelle was born almost 150 years ago in 1876. Founded by Auguste Gamichon who will develop the vulcanization of rubber. This process will ensure its conservation. With this material, he will first make elastic knits, abdominal belts, then what will be called girdles.

Having a great sense of family, Auguste Gamichon joined forces at the end of the 19th century with his nephew, Paul-Maurice Kretz, the first representative of the Kretz family, still in charge today.

It was at the start of the 1960s that Chantelle embarked on the production of bras: “This was a turning point which was difficult to negotiate since it took us 10 years to make a bra of acceptable quality”, recognizes Patrice Kretz.

“It was very complicated because at the time we only had rigid materials, the Lycra fiber had not yet arrived on the market, and therefore the product had to be perfectly cut for it to fit. Good. Gradually, we have used more and more stretchy materials which adapt better to the body’s morphology… ”

French women buy between two and three bras per year. It changed a lot in the 90s, but it doesn’t change anymore. “The European market is more or less homogeneous, specifies the CEO of Chantelle, even if in the north of Europe we look above all for functionality, while in the south of the old continent we are a little more sensitive to fashion and the feminine dimension of lace “…

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