While searching for a fresh alternative to gallery canvases artist Marguerite Bartherotte aka "G.Kero" turned her hands to fashion.
Reworking garments into original creations that blur the border between art and fashion.
G.KERO is the result of Marguerite Bartherotte's vision to transform high quality fabrics into technicolored statement pieces.
"G.Kero" is the pseudonym of artist Marguerite Bartherotte. It is a childwood family nickname.
Marguerite grew up with six brothers and sisters in a beach house located at the end of a sandy peninsula in Cap Ferret south of France, a place where tumultuous ocean waters meet the calmer waters of the Arcachon bay.
In the late 1970s, her parents built wooden houses on this sandbank. This was their way of carrying on the spirit of May 1968 while everyone else went back to work. Step inside and you will find 18th century furniture alongside guns, chainsaws, antiques, and many books on art and photography. It was in this library at the age of 6 that Marguerite discovered Adieu l'Afrique by Mirella Ricciardi. This book was her first source of inspiration, and this is where she learned to draw her unique dancing characters that are now one of her trademarks
While traveling in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, her brother Philippe was looking for an original tee-shirt to wear but could not find any in the shops.
His sister was studying cartoon motion at Lacambre an art school in Belgium. He asked her a drawings and had it printed onto a white tee-shirt. When seeing the result Marguerite was enthusiastic. It was the opportunity she was expecting to jump into the real world. She left her school and started painting right onto tee-shirts for her friends many of whom where young musicians.
Quickly everybody around were asking for a customized tee. Brother and sister created the brand with a friend in 2011.
The designer came to light when Kate Moss was seen rocking her « Couple X » shirt en 2014 (a poetic couple making love shirt) as well as with her « spaceman shirt » (a David Bowie inspired shirt).
The unique and graceful portrayal of these colourful characters which has been much imitated since but never equaled is part of the G.kero brand signature.
The artist stroke is instinctive fast and without retouching since she draws with felt and paint brushes.
Her drawings are naive and mature at the same time graceful and powerful.
The artist performances pays tribute to the world before consciousness. The world of childwood. The animal world and Nature and their echo in music : rock'n roll and punk music.
G.Kero's prints stand out from others because they are a true performance and not a decoration. Painting on fabrics gives these drawings a sense of beauty and unique depth.
This bohemian artist usually paints her collections in her friends' homes and willingly shares stories of her encounters.
The fabric are printed in Italy best print house and then crafted in small family workshops in Portugal with the utmost attention to detail.
They are edited in numbered and limited serie.
G.KERO is a true artistic expression that conveys freedom and inspiration to live a daring and spontaneous life.
When we talk about originality, we often hear "what is different from the common, stands out of the ordinary."
But the word has also a deeper meaning: "something that comes from its author or its source, which is not a copy, a reproduction, a translation, a recast, a reinterpretation...".
G. Kero's pieces and drawings are originals in both senses of the word. There are the creations of an artist Marguerite Bartherotte, signed with her artist pseudonym "G. Kero".
G. Kero is not a brand offering impersonal and anonymous prints.
You know where it comes from and who designed the pretty drawings you are wearing.
When you wear a shirt or a blouse printed with small surfers, you wear an original piece.
Marguerite Bartherotte aka G. Kero created this graphic composition in 2013 with the idea of multiplying the small surfers by sequencing them like freeze-frames in different positions, removing all the decorative features that we were used to find on this type of subject (palms, sea, animals etc.).
This graphic composition is the figment of her imagination and her artistic research.
There were no similar garments before this model was created by G. Kero.
You will now find numerous imitations of these little surfers as well as many imitations of others original drawings by G. Kero, for example of her dancers, her skiers (that has been recently seen on Chanel woman shoes), or her beach surfers, but when you wear G. Kero you wear the original piece.
If you pay close attention to details, you will immediately notice the richness of the graphic composition, its freshness and spontaneity.
When you buy G. Kero you are not simply a customer, a consumer, your are a collector.
And we thank you for encouraging and promoting artistic creation, independence, freedom and originality.
Inside each G. Kero's piece there is a label with :
-the number of your piece
-the total number of edited pieces
-the year of edition
This to make our customers aware that they wear a rare garment.
This because it is the natural result of being small (a confidential and independant label).
This because we want to encourage a buy less but better spirit.
Each of us is unique, why shouldn't we be allowed to wear unique clothe ?
Since we started G.KERO we have never advertised.
We rather make beautiful and quality collections with an ethic and get known by word of mouth with the support of people who really love our creations with a true love.
All the drawings of the brand are created by the same artist, Marguerite Bartherotte alias "G. Kero" and this is quite unique in fashion.
Marguerite draws the collections in her workshop in Cap-Ferret, or at her friends' places. Bohemian artist always on the move, she also creates during her travels.
The drawings are then printed on high quality materials by one of the best print house in the world in Italy who also print the most famous high fashion brands since the 50's such as Hermes, Chanel, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent. We are the only ready to wear brand to print there as far as we know.
These materials are then sent to Portugal to be manufactured in environmentally friendly and human-scaled workshops. These workshops are exclusively family workshops with whom we have friendly relations.
We remain faithful to these workshops which are manufacturing our creations with passion and love their craft.
We do not seek to obtain the lowest prices from them, but rather favour a fair price, quality and human exchanges.
In view of the strong impact of industrial activities on the planet it is unconceivable to keep producing unreasonably.
We became aware of this as soon as we started our project.
This is why we avoid overproduction, produce little, and do not encourage excessive consumption through sales and discount when a season is over.
We consider the pieces we create as atemporal works of art.
Out of respect for our art, our work, and those who spend time manufacturing our collections, and out of respect for those who finally buy and wear them, we avoid devaluing our creations by going on sales.
To buy less but better is the action for the environment that we want to encourage.
Since we started G.KERO every year we donates about one hundred pieces to charities in order to raise funds to help the most needy. We are proud to participate in the good deeds of the Arcat foundation, fighting against AIDS, Charitic Angels who raise funds for many humanitarian organisations...
If you have generous ideas or if you would like to propose partnerships of solidarity, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
G. Kero is not just a brand, it's a project, written with drawings that come to life when you wear them.
The key words of this project are freedom, truth, harmony, and beauty.
Marguerite & Philippe interview // Marguerite and Philippe are brother and sister. They have founded G.KERO with a friend Arnaud in 2011.
Do you believe in Style ?
I believe in style. But I believe in style in a bigger context. Because style is something that permeates every aspect of our life. And I want to highlight originality and individuality and expressivity.
Victor Hugo said « avoir du style c’est savoir sans cesse ramener le fond à la surface » which I would translate as « to have style is to know how to highlight what matter ». I believe in Style as the expression of what matter for each of us.
Tell me a little bit about the story behind your brand. How did it come to be? How did you start merging art with fashion ?
I have been painting and drawing since I am a kid. I grew up doing that.
When I was 21, I was studying cartoon motion at La Cambre art school in Brussels because I found out that movement in art was very attractive. But I was getting bored with the school. At that time, my brother Philippe was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He spent months there and he was always wearing a simple t-shirt. It was his daily outfit and he was a bit frustrated because he couldn’t find one right for him. Just stereotyped ones from conventional brands. So he asked me a drawing and bought a white tee. Then he had my drawing silk screened on his tee. When I saw a picture of him wearing the shirt on the beach it started me with the idea of painting on tee shirt. It was the possibility to escape from the virtual world and jump into the real one. My drawings will not be seen behind a screen but on peoples. This was the start of my work on garments.
I was very bad at drawing and looking at Marguerite’s drawings I felt she was a genius. I was passionate with her works. Regarding art I feel as the Egyptians. In their world they did not make any differences between the « thing » and the « word ». For them the drawing was « the thing ». I am a bit like that. When I printed my first tee-shirt with a beautiful girl Marguerite draw for me it was as if she introduced me with a beautiful girl. I was proud to carry it and I felt I was different. I felt I was wearing something special and personal not a fake commercial and common graphic
If you could capture the essence of G.Kero in one sentence, how would you describe it?
G.Kero is an artistic reaction to the environment.
I can’t state it better.
Who do you design for ? Who is the G.Kero woman?
I design for everybody, cats and dogs. The G.Kero woman can be found in one of them, she looks free from what’s going on in the fashion world.
G.Kero woman is many women but all are sharing this, they are free from fashion diktats. They are more keen on beauty and originality than on fashion for itself. They are confident in what they think not in what others tell them.
The book “Adieu l’Afrique” by Mirella Ricciardi was your first source of inspiration, at a very early age. Are there any other books/artists that have influenced you along the way? How did you continue to pursue your interest in art?
Of course there are lots of books or paintings or whatever, even if not consciously. I was a kid. Picasso, Matisse, Miro, Rembrandt, Walt Disney’s characters, such as Mowglie, Basquiat, my mother’s photographs of us, and my older brothers’ and sisters’ drawings. I was crazy about them. I have never reached a stronger emotion regarding art since discovering their drawings when I was 6, hahaha! When you are bitten as a kid, I guess you open the art channel for life so it goes on and on and on with every different artist you meet on your way. My Cousin Jules de Balincourt influence me as well. I painted a collection in his atelier in New York.
You paint directly on fabric. How difficult was it to master this technique?
It was first easy when it was just black and white drawings, a line on a t-shirt with a pencil. I found more difficulties when it eventually became a painting with details and different layers, etc. Painting on fabrics needs lots of patience, but as I don’t like complicated things, I think I kept it simple enough. I simplify what I would do on paper. In time, I’ve developed a painting style which is done for clothes. But, you know, I mostly print my artwork, I paint or draw on paper and then it is printed all over the fabric. It is very interesting because I don’t know where it will actually end up. I try not to control everything to let magic happen.
The G.Kero clothes are made of cotton, cashmere or silk and are crafted in the best family workshops in Portugal. What’s the biggest challenge of a socially conscious fashion brand?
I love the idea that our customers can give their G.KERO shirts to their daughters years after because the quality is good. You can explain your kids that our clothes are made in small workshops respectful of workers and environment not in countries where kids are working in very poor conditions to make cheap clothes sold by multinational making huge profits with indecent margins.
The biggest challenge is to survive when your aim is not profit but beauty and quality…. Because all the laws and industries are oriented on profits it can be difficult to make small and ethical productions. The challenge in all industrial process is also to take care of humans, people who work to make your creations, and environment. To remain small. Because humans are more happy in small company than in huge ones.
The textile industry and its products have shaped the contemporary world more than anything else. The disposal of textile waste is one of the biggest preoccupations we have at the moment. How do you see the future of fashion? Do you think there is a significantly increased interest in the locally-made, in craftsmanship and mindful shopping or do you think it will take mass action to curb our addiction to mass-produced, cheap products? And what do you think is the first thing every individual should do in order to address this issue, any tip that may help someone else just starting out on their sustainable journey?
I think that the future of fashion will be paradoxal as the reflexion of our society. On one hand, you’ll see more and more fast fashion shops opening. They steal original ideas from young designers like me and use cheap labour in poor countries, and, on the other hand, you will see new locally made or small production little brands like us. I think that, unfortunately, the bad education and this massive monster which is consumerism will make huge damages and maybe kill everything around. I think that people should only buy clothes that last and boycott brands that exploit cheap labours to make huge margins and profits. At least people who can afford to do otherwise.
We are all actors of our destiny. I am sad when I hear people saying « This is how it goes. one can’t change the world ». Yes we can. As rich countries now that we have a certain power to buy we should as well use this power to stop buying. When buying something we should not say « just do it » but « think about it before ». This is a wonderful and gigantic power. If we start being ethics and act well individually then the world will change around us. We don’t need books people and religion to tells us what is good or bad. We are feeling it in ourselves as part of the whole thing which is the Univers. More love is needed. This is the only thing I am really sure of. Speaking about fashion and consumption we have the power to change the word each time we buy something or choose not to buy it. In France we always hear about « augmenter le pouvoir d’achat » (rising the power to buy) but we should talk more about « le pouvoir de ne pas acheter », the « stop buying this » power . This is a huge power and we should use it.
The clothes you design have a carefree, joyous, distinctive attitude, an attitude that’s transmitted through your campaigns as well. They remind me of the fashion of the late 80s-early 90s, when designers, models and people still had fun with fashion, when women wore the clothes, not the other way around, when individuality still mattered. Have women stopped having fun with fashion?
Of course not! I can see lots of women around me happy to discover G.Kero. Maybe they have a reaction to the boring propositions they are surrounded by. Sometimes there is a contre-pieds to the massive tendency. It’s enough for us to live on.
If big brands start advertising 45 kilos models with no smile it becomes fashion. And it has actually. But smile comes back. Fashion comes and goes. But sure there is a thing with pretending being serious since fashion is not a serious thing. Beauty is supposed to be a serious thing. What I admire in Marguerite’s work is her ability to play with beauty. To highlight what matter in a light and even funny way.
We live in a hectic world and more and more people are trying to go back to basics, to find a balance, to live mindfully. Your art and your clothes seem to carry this message of living simply and expressing yourself freely. What does beautiful living mean to you?
It’s a big question! To me, beautiful living is to create … or to be free to do what you want to do. To be able to think. When you look at human behaviour we are not far from sheep and seem to ignore it. It’s scary.
It can also be just to do things in a positive mood, whatever you do.
I think that your life is beautiful when what you do brings you lucky things.
We can see the whole life like a giant picture, and see if there is harmony and colors in it… I do this often. When you keep on exchanging with people, when you travel to see and hear and feel different cultures, you enlarge your world and make it flamboyant.
For me beautiful living mean to live and work in a world according to your own nature and principles. Living beautifully is to live in adequation with ones own nature and principles.
Speaking of a multicultural background, you grew up in Cap Ferret in France, went to school in Belgium and have lived in Paris. How has each place informed you creatively?
Very, very differently, but in a logical continuation. Cap Ferret was the most important one because it was simple: to draw in my room and to read were my only temptation. No cinéma, no Disneyland, no music, no football, no zoo, etc.
My mother had seven children and we grew up quite free. If you got bored because you didn’t find any activity, no one was finding it for you. Once I came to my mother to tell her I had nothing to do, and she answered: “you can work in the garden… “. From that day I preferred to invent stories in my room. She sent me to Rome when I was 18 after the bacalaureat and I was painting a lot. Afterwards I entered a school in Brussels for 2 years and it changed me a lot. I didn’t want to enter the art-gallery world anymore because it’s not fun. I needed my art to be more entertaining and more involved in the concrete life. It’s fun that my brother asked me to make some t-shirts at that moment. I was more than ready to create G.Kero… And he gave me the kick to do it.
What advice would you give someone with their own idea or dream?
Flow with your deeper energy. If you crash, it’s no big deal!
If you don't believe in your own ideas and dream who will ?
What does style mean to you?
Style happens when the elegance in you looks like yours and it will never be boring to look at you. Fashion passes, style stays.
Style is the face of each of us truth. I have seen many styled bums and very few styled politicians.
You feel your best dressed in:
Whatever… If I feel good when my body’s feels good. I like comfortable clothes. But I can’t go out if I have no style! Let’s do both.
I’m happy we don’t wear corsets anymore!
I usually wear high-size pants and a long coat in winter, with a colorful silk scarf.
The best in summer would be something very light: short pants and a large blouse attached au dessus de la taille. Happy when the wind enters my shirt …
When I have the colors that match together…
Lots of possibilities, that’s why it’s very hard to answer briefly.
Stark naked only dressed by the beams of the sun and the shadows of palm trees leaves.
What is your one favorite thing to do in Cap Ferret/Paris and which you would miss if you lived anywhere else in the world?
If I left Cap Ferret, I would miss the direct communication with all G.Kero fans that come to my atelier. The beautiful place I got. If I left Paris, I would miss all those crazy healthy food places.
I would miss the spring coming back after winter, the autumn putting an end to summer. Cap ferret homeland seasons with their particular winds, light end scent that bring memories and emotions.
One thing you can not start the day without:
I need some light! When the sky is blue, it helps!
A good night before I wake up brand new.
So where would we find you when not working?
Ooh, travelling everywhere, all the time! As much as possible. In the nature, of course, and as often as possible. I like Bidart (South-West coast, France), Portugal, Italy, Sicily …
Surfing in Costa Rica.
I am a film lover and I have to ask: do you have a favorite movie ? What about the latest good film you’ve watched ?
Les enfants du Paradis. Because the French poet Jacques Prévert wrote the dialogue and it’s brilliant. The actors are something that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s very tasty and deep. It’s art.
One of my favorite movie is La chèvre, with Pierre Richard. A very funny movie about a guy who has bad luck.
The last movie I saw was a movie I had already seen. It is La Grande Vadrouille a hilarious very french movie as we do not see anymore on screen ! But I have not a single favorite movie I have a big list.
What makes you happy at the end of the day?
To share something with a friend or somebody I like. For example, that movie!
An email from a happy customer just before I am leaving my office. Usually happy customers are silent. I like to know somebody is happy because we made something for her/him. I like when people say it. One out of 1000 is enough to give me strenght and courage to go ahead.
Interview réalisé par Stéphanie Thiberge // www.stephanielou.com