Made in BXL

Brussels mag N°16

1 establishment, 3 crafts

1 Establishment, 3 Crafts

text Marie Hocepied . Photos Oskar

Immersion in the heart of Maison Degand: a paradise for the well-groomed man who is pampered here at the hands of highly specialised expert craftsmen.

Lahcen Ait El Maati

What is your job description?

L.A. I take the measurements of clients who want to have a suit made to measure. If it is a new client, I cut the material and develop the pattern. A second fitting is
arranged when the suit is already at an advanced stage. Corrections are then made and at the time of the third fitting, the
details are rectified. You should allow 55 hours of work from beginning to end in order to make a complete suit.

And your career in this Maison?

L.A. I come from a family of tailors, we are five brothers and my youngest brother works here too, doing alterations. I started with the company 15 years ago. I learned alongside Gennaro who is a true figurehead here, he has been with the company for 30 years. We work side by side. He is a real role model. Every day, I learn new things, but it is also a difficult craft: you may have to work 5 consecutive hours on one single detail. We have to satisfy even the most demanding requirements of our clients.

What would be the three key words you would use to describe Maison Degand?

L.A. Luxury, exclusivity and honour.

What is your favourite material?

L.A. Prince of Wales check, this is a design that always creates a stylish silhouette.


Michel Buchman

What is your job description?

M.B. According to clients’ requests, I
embroider on any and all materials: whether it is initials on a shirt, a word on a tie, a motif on a scarf, or a phrase on the lining of a jacket. I can also embroider on certain plaids and leather handbags. I work here in the atelier or at home if the work requires more raw materials.

And your career in this craft?

M.B. I graduated in romance philology and in journalism and communications. I worked in these two fields for several years. In my family, everyone is involved in the clothing sector. My grandmother was an embroiderer and, when I was little, I watched her very closely. I actually made my first monogram when I was 5 years old. However, my parents wanted me to study to have a profession and, most probably, to feel reassured about my future. So I did study, and it did please me. At a certain moment in time, I found myself in a situation helping a friend who was a couturier. I found this very enjoyable and together we opened an Haute Couture House in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre where I worked for 25 years. I was involved a little with the couture but mostly with embroidery. Eventually, my associate decided to retire and I did not feel like continuing the couture business on my own. Thus, I became self-employed, continuing to work for several loyal clients but also some new clients such as the Maison Degand.

What would be the three key words you would use to describe Maison Degand?

M.B. Luxury, savoir-faire and aesthetics.

What is your favourite material?

M.B. I love embroidering on natural silk or Egyptian cotton, which is as elegant as silk. But what I prefer most of all is a task that is the most creative, where several materials are employed together. In embroidery, there is the concept of design and relief that resembles the art of sculpture, and I love that!


Joshua Leroudier

What is your job description?

J.L. I am essentially involved in looking after the leather. I can also dye a white pair of shoes according to client’s wishes to revive a pair that they consider dull or worn- looking. I proceed with the traditional maintenance tasks using a pigmented cream or wax. I can also make up dyes with an alcohol base or natural pigment that I mix together in order to obtain the right colour. I use only French products with a base of natural oils, shea butter, mink oil or jojoba. These care products are used not only to make the leather shine but also to nourish it and thereby maintain its longevity.

And your career in this Maison?

J.L. I learned the craft as an autodidact.
I have always paid particular attention to shoes and to shoes that were cared for well. Spontaneously, I submitted my candidature to Mr. Degand because it was my goal to work for a grand establishment such as his. I learned with practice, but also with passion. The more worn a pair
of shoes is, the more stimulating and challenging it is to work on them! The best thing of all is to see a client who cannot recognise his shoes when he comes to
collect them!

What would be the three key words you would use to describe Maison Degand?

J.L. Excellence, passion and savoir-faire.

What is your favourite brand of shoes?

J.L. Alden, an American brand originating in Boston. This brand masters the art of working with cordovan leather; this is equine leather that is very thick and very greasy. I love their robust aspect! I would even say that my passion for shoes comes from the discovery of this brand!

My grandmother was an embroiderer and, when I was little, I watched her very closely.- Michel Buchman