Brooklyn-Based French Founders Make Breastfeeding Chic

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It’s never easy to find fashionable clothes that are convenient for breastfeeding- and two moms living in Brooklyn are determined to change that with Allette.

“The brand name was harder to choose than our babies’ names!” laughs Céline Cohen, the 38 year old French co-founder of Allette. She and her business partner Oksana Pavlowsky, from Russia, have just launched their collection. “It’s a brand of clothes for women who love clothes,” says Cohen, who was born in Marseille and originally worked in marketing.

Cohen first had the idea for the fashion line back in 2011. Twelve days after giving birth to her first child, she had to attend a wedding, and realized she had nothing to wear that would allow her to breastfeed her baby in peace. She had always wanted to start her own business, and she decided to keep the idea in the back of her mind. She later met her future business partner, Oksana Pavlowsky, two and a half years ago at a kindergarten. Both had married French men and had young children, and they both wanted to leave their jobs to start their enterprise. They strove to find an equilibrium between work and family life.

Last summer, they started the project. Neither had studied fashion, so they decided to take fall courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. A few months later, the adventure began. Pavlowsky began sketching designs, and Cohen took charge of marketing. They took inspiration from their travels and the brands that they admired (Maje, Zadig & Voltaire, Chloé, Isabel Marant), and they closely watched fashion trends and took photos. For Allette, they wanted to create high-quality, timeless, and feminine pieces that were designed for women who had just given birth. “We wanted women to be able to continue to wear the clothes as their bodies change over time after giving birth,” says Cohen.

For the production of their clothing, they decided to stay local. They make their clothes at a factory in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, 15 minutes from near where they live. “We wanted to be able to see the production, which we wouldn’t have been able to do if our clothes were made in China,” she continues. They also hired a partner to oversee the technical aspects of production, “which we weren’t interested in,” she laughs. She works closely with the factory to make sure that their clothing is made into exactly what they have in mind. Precise and meticulous, she watches over every detail. “We will talk for hours about the work, and when something doesn’t come out the way we wanted it to, we don’t hesitate to remake it,” Cohen says. “We especially don’t want to make any clothes that we wouldn’t wear ourselves.” To make life easier for their clients, they make sure to only use fabrics that are machine washable, wrinkle-free, and easy to maintain.

After the launch of their summer collection, they are getting ready for their fall and winter line. Their collections include dresses and tops in various colors, starting at $130 for a top and $260 for a dress. The word of mouth and communication about the brand has been successful, and the orders have been flying in ever since they opened their online shop on June 1st. Their pieces have even been featured by fashionista “Instagrammers” with millions of followers, like Londoner Masha Theone. “We’ve seen an incredible support from locals as well,” says Pavlowski. “We’ve even had men buying pieces for their wives!”

If you or someone you know has a baby, be sure to check out Allette for the best of fashion and functionality.