Forbes - Nathalie Dionne, luxury and eco-responsible leather goods

Portrait | Founder and CEO of Thalie Paris, Nathalie Dionne is aiming to rethink the codes of luxury by imposing low-carbon bio-based materials and upcycled leathers.   

04 April 2024, by Inès Bennacer @Forbes France

During multiple conversations on the phone, Forbes France had a chance to speak with Nathalie Dionne. About to launch her new AI-generated communications campaign, the founder of Thalie Paris is particularly sensitive to innovations. Her goal: to make Thalie “en accord avec son temps” ("in harmony with it's time"), as she puts it. Already in 2020, the company was a French Fab award-winner (award to support innovation within the French economy) and supported by the BPI France's future innovation cluster. Regularly exhibiting in Parisian department stores such as Printemps, Thalie Paris is aiming to raise 3 million euros in 2024.

Nathalie Dionne has always had a passion for fashion and an artistic spirit. As a child, she used her towels to create outfits reminiscent of Greek silhouettes. "I remember always loving fashion. It's a world that has fascinated me since my childhood. Beautiful materials, beautiful fabrics, it was my mother who instilled in me a love of beautiful things." Certainly an omen of her future life, because in 2020 - in the midst of a pandemic - Nathalie Dionne founded Thalie Paris, a luxury brand offering eco-friendly leather goods made in France. The term ‘Thalie’ originates from an ancient Greek muse, Thaleia, meaning 'the flourishing one'. This sensuality and glamorousness is what she seeks to convey in her eco-luxury leather goods brand.

Driven by the love of textiles, she graduated from the Ecole de Haute Couture Châtelaine in 1995 and pursued her education at the prestigious Institut Français de la Mode in 2011. She began her professional career as a stylist, then style director for ready-to-wear groups such as CA and New Look. The year 2019 marks a turning point in her work. After living in Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro, she decided to return permanently to Paris, where she worked with collaborators on the creation of eco-responsible collections. This experience made her realize the need for environmentally friendly products in the luxury and premium segment. The idea of a high-end leather goods brand combining feminism, minimalism, and eco-responsibility was born. "I became aware of the fundamental lack of these values in the premium sector. Yet there was a lot of demand from customers for good-quality, vegan, and eco-responsible products. There was something to explore.” To attract it's clientele, the brand has to remain ‘affordable’. Thalie Paris bags start at 500 euros and go up to 850 euros, a good tradeoff for high quality and eco-responsibility according to its designer, although she acknowledges that this represents a cost.

Innovation is the motto at Thalie Paris. The first French leather goods brand to use salmon leather - one of its collections even goes by the name ‘Sushi Collection’. It's made from marine leather in a small manufacture near Paris. "This collection, with its slightly humorous name, I admit, is made from salmon skins recycled from the agri-food industry and processed by the pioneering marine leather tannery Ictyos." Thalie Paris also offers a range of vegan bags, made from cactus alt-leather. "With Thalie, we explore sustainable alternative materials with low environmental impact. Being a global brand and pioneer of French ‘haute maroquinerie’ or ‘high-end leather goods’ requires us to rethink our entire supply chain". The next step for Nathalie Dionne is to open the first Thalie Paris boutique - right in the heart of the French capital - because since Fashion Week, the brand has been subject to strong demand from Parisian and international customers.

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