FRÉNE is a creative sustainable alternative fashion movement. A playground where old garments get a new life thanks to upcycling. Express yourself fully without hurting the environment

Hi Fréne! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do :)

Well, first of all I am and have always been a very passionate and restless person, constantly in motion I keep those around me on their toes. I’ve always been drawn to things where my creativity could flow. I love to make art, sculptures, and scrapbooks and sometimes I write stories.

I think what’s made me into the person I am today is the fact that I’ve always embraced the unpredictable nature of life, as my drive has been to explore. I find great joy in travelling and seeing the world, but also in exploring our minds and how creativity brings so much happiness to us.

I honestly never thought I would end up in fashion (don’t get me wrong I’ve always loved to express myself through fashion) but when it comes to my creativity, I was scared that the fashion business would be too shallow.

As I got my first sewing machine passed on to me by my beloved grandmother back in 2021, I used it to deal with her loss and wanted to learn the craft mainly as a tribute to her. As I did though, something in me felt different from what I’d expected, finally, I found a craft that made me feel like I reached my full potential.

So last year I started a clothing brand called FRÉNE, a sustainable fashion playground that is a mix of everything I love and thinks adds something new to the fashion world. A part I myself felt was missing where your creativity can go crazy without any rules or trends to follow.

What is the idea behind FRÉNE Design? (how did you get the idea, when did you start etc) 

The idea behind FRÉNE Design is to create a brand that is not only fashionable and creative but also sustainable and socially responsible. We believe that fashion can be a force for good, and we are committed to doing our part to make the industry more ethical and environmentally friendly.

I’ve been a huge environmental freak since we learned about the biological cycle in school haha. Naturally, growing up, I’ve always used the things I had in my own possession to create other things. I don’t see why you can’t do the same thing when it comes to designing clothes. I get most of my inspiration from old things and my love for up-cycling old garments came from a genuine interest in people's life stories and the secret history hidden inside old clothes. Since I’ve always loved to write stories I decided to share the ones from the garments I use for my designs with the buyers. You do not only buy a piece of clothing, you buy a piece of history and add your own life story. Somewhere along the way I decided to add hearts to some of my designs and today it has made a signum for FRÉNE. It may look like just a heart but it means that the material that was used in making the design is a piece of my history, and it now belongs to you. Every design comes with a QR code for you to be able to read the full story on how the garment came into my possession.

When I moved back to Stockholm in 2022 I wore some of my own designs to Stockholm Fashion Week, by surprise they got a lot of attention from photographers and interviewers. They ended up being published in Vogue, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and so on, so I thought maybe other people would find interest in what I do? Afterward, I got orders for Paris Fashion Week, private ones through my Instagram, and have had the opportunity to work with some of my favourite musicians to showcase the designs. I wish for people to cherish the garments they decide to buy from FRÉNE even though it’s natural to outgrow your garments in style or statement. That’s why I have developed a loop where we take full responsibility even after the designs are no longer welcome in the closet, you can simply send them back to us thanks to a QR code placed in the garment so we can make something new out of it, and in this way, we will save resources together.

Since developing the concept fully, I’ve been urged to launch my own website in order to invite others to be a part of FRÉNE, see the official collections, and make your own personalised orders. I wish to give people the opportunity to be more involved in the creation of their clothing, by providing them with the option to up-cycle their old garments and transform them into something new as an alternative instead of buying shiny newly produced clothing.

FRÉNE is constantly pushing boundaries and challenging to think outside the box, incorporating unexpected elements and materials into the pieces and the first collection officially drops in June this year.

@amblizzle @sebastienmartinezz @feliciaguemes @emmystafwerfeldt 

What has been your favourite "FRÉNE Moments"?

It's a thrill to see something that was once cast aside to be reborn as something you see yourself writing a new chapter of life in. I’ve said this before but, what keeps me going is the satisfaction of seeing those who once dismissed these garments now clamouring to reclaim them after I’ve recreated them. It just goes to show that it’s possible to up-cycle without having to down-prioritise design or style. With a little imagination and creativity, anything can be reborn anew. I will definitely continue to spread the joy of sustainable fashion for as long as I can.

Any upcoming projects you want to tell us about?

At this moment I am working on a very exciting project together with the Caliroots fam. We are cycling some unique creations from their rest layer in honour of their 20th jubilee this summer. It means the world to me when big established companies acknowledge the importance of taking care of things that are already existing and I’m very excited to showcase the finished designs. 

What's your relation to vintage- and second-hand?

Haha, since I was a little kid I’ve been a real vintage hunter. I forced my parents to travel far and wide for me to find golden nuggets at vintage stores. I remember the very first vintage nugget that gave me butterflies in my stomach as I found it, it was one time when I lived in Poland, I found this cute store where everything was just thrown in baskets and everything in the basket was the same price, I swear I dug in those baskets for a few hours until I found a pair of Valentino boots for only(!!) 100 zloty which is like 200 Swedish krona, my mum bought them for me and I wore them to school every day for a year…since then I’ve had this urge when I go into vintage stores to find the best of the best pieces and sometimes it takes hours, I’m usually their last customer haha. I think this excitement sparked my creations for FRÉNE as well, since I could still do my vintage- adventures but take it to the next level by creating something cool from them. At this point I don’t only scout for brands and exclusive garments, but for unique and delicate fabrics found in them.

Your best vintage catch ever?

That is a very hard question, I have a lot of good catches in my closet haha. The Dior scarf that started FRÉNE has a big place in my heart. I found it in a store in Copenhagen but the thing was, I never ever wear scarves so I stood there like ‘’why do I want to buy this?? I would never wear it lol’’ but the print was so beautiful with the purple/burgundy colors so I couldn’t help buying it anyways. As I predicted I never wore it and It annoyed me so much that I had to do something with it. I decided to use it as fabric to make a vest which I needed and so ‘’the cloud eater’’ vest was made. It got a lot of attention from people all over the world and today it has over 20+ people on the waiting list for when it goes live in the first collection. I must say it has to be my very best vintage catch in the end with a little help from up cycling.

Where can we see more of what you're doing? 

@frenedesign on Instagram. 

The website is soon out for everyone to see but at this point, you can subscribe to our newsletters to be invited to the first drop taking place at the beginning of June.

January 05, 2024 — Gabi Kleanthous