This week, heading to the Haut-Rhin, we present to you the company Emanuel Lang!
EMANUEL LANG x MIJUIN
Recently Le Monde published a beautiful article retracing the story of Emanuel Lang , a story of passionate employees and fierce battles. So far be it from me to produce such a beautiful and exhaustive report, but here I tell you about the first steps of Mijuin in the world of the reindustrialization of our textile sector. A new look, amazed and above all admiring towards those who defy the still almost implacable laws of globalization.
I contacted Céline, the creative manager of Emanuel Lang , via LinkedIn . She tells me that she receives a lot of requests but still takes the time to send me a jacket that she had made with their fabric from a pattern found at Emmaüs . But their linen fabric is not just any old fabric, it's the first (since 2005 all the same!) that can boast of being entirely transformed in France from the field!
I order a few meters of fabric from Céline, initially not to make a prototype but to furnish the old van that we have just adopted with my boyfriend: the covers for the bench seat/bed will be made of 100% linen transformed in France ! Then I meet Christian the director of Emanuel Lang at a meeting of the Lin et Chanvre Bio association, I proudly present the old van to him, it's the beginning of glory for our old T4 which will quickly become an emblem of meetings with those who make the flax sector.
A BEAUTIFUL STORY, A LONG FIGHT
Clémentine, freelance stylist , designed the Mijuin jacket, inspired by the Emmaüs jacket: we had our first prototype and in the end we liked it so much that we made very few adjustments to it. At the end of October, Céline accepts to receive us in the factory, we leave our Normandy for a few days, direction Alsace! Like any good visit, we start with a bit of historical context. In the entrance of the factory, a bulletin board recounts the many newspaper covers, it summarizes the long fight of the employees to keep the factory in operation.
The last (dark) news from Emanuel Lang is the fire that took away several looms on May 8, 2021. I remember then that the Asphalte brand had launched a participatory kitty in a few days to raise funds. Joined by many brands (customers or not of the factory), we had then witnessed an enormous outpouring of support. The kitty raised €62,000, enough to buy 2 new looms out of the 15 damaged by the fire.
While I was still in full reflection on the launch of Mijuin, this solidarity simply impressed me. That's how I imagine the relationships between partners: the momentum of the collective in the service of a common vision.
THE RETURN OF A LINEN SPINNING FACTORY IN FRANCE
If all the spinning mills have relocated their production in recent decades, it is mainly due to production costs which no longer allowed locally processed flax to be profitable. “Our production costs had become catastrophic, we had to either close down or produce cheaper elsewhere,” explained Mr. Mekerke, Chairman of Safilin in 2005, the year the company made the decision to close its last production unit in Nord- Pas de Calais. This unit was the last to produce yarn in the territory. This departure marked the beginning of 15 years without flax spinning in France.
At the beginning of 2020, Pierre Schmitt, director of the Velcorex-Emanuel Lang group, installed a spinning unit in the factory. "At the beginning, we were taken for crazy," Céline slips in to me as we thread our way through the noisy alleys and huge machines. I have chills, I tell myself at this moment that I am in the right place. Emanuel Lang has proven that it is possible, although not without difficulty, as this Challenge article very well relates. However, they have inspired other projects to relocate spinning mills, in particular spinning mills making it possible to produce fine fabrics such as those for our shirts or bed sheets ( wet spinning). Haut-de-France, Normandy and Brittany will each see a flax spinning mill open in their region in 2022/2023.
So yes, French spinning mills will only process a few hundred tons of flax annually each, they will grab very little market share from the Chinese and Indians, and they will not be able to meet all European demand. But changing our relationship to the world starts with imagining new stories .