For This Lingerie Empire, The Future Is Green

Simone Pérèle’s President Matthieu Grodner is spearheading a new era of the company, with a focus on eco-friendly materials, ethical craftsmanship and charity partnerships.

Article by Phoebe Tully

Matthieu GrodnerMatthieu Grodner, President of Simone Pérèle. Photography courtesy Simone Pérèle.

The average embroidered or lace bra comprises 25 material inputs – everything from the fabrics to the chemical treatments to the wires. It could be viewed as necessary or “the way things are done”, or it could be viewed as an opportunity for innovation in sustainability, such as utilising recycled polyester or Italian lace offcuts that would otherwise be discarded. This is the path Simone Pérèle is pursuing.

It is in part due to the vision of Matthieu Grodner, President of Simone Pérèle and grandson of Mrs Simone Pérèle, that the brand has launched SIMONE CARES, an initiative that combines over 70 years of heritage with positive action, such as seeking ethical craftspeople to showcase the brand’s unique artisanal techniques and investing in new eco-friendly materials.

Grodner is the third generation of the Pérèle family to spearhead the company, having started in 2006 as a Retail Project Manager after a career in investment, and then working his way to CEO in 2015 and then President in 2021.

T Australia recently had the opportunity to speak with Grodner about the move towards sustainability, responding to the times, and what Australia can expect next from this international brand.

Photography courtesy Simone Pérèle.

Last year, you launched SIMONE CARES with eco-friendly lines and greener packaging. Could you give some specific examples of the outcomes you are looking for with this initiative – both as a business and for the environment?

For many years, we have been a brand that cares about the environment and our social responsibility, and decided to formalise this into a program with the launch of SIMONE CARES. The program has two arms for us: the product side and the community side. Our aim is to eventually have all our product made of recycled fabrics, however it is a complex transition and will take some time.

We are proud that our Swim SS23 collection is made of 50% recycled fabrics and our SIMONE collection also has products with recycled polyester from plastic waste. On the social responsibility side, we have partnered with Thread Together donating both product and time to help the organisation clothe vulnerable Australians. From a global level, we work with CARE, a non-government organisation, and have together granted 105 schools in Madagascar (where we have a factory and employ 300 people) access to water and hygiene products. Supporting the communities our company is based in is very important to us.

The OEKO-TEX certification is known for its high standards – why was it important to you to achieve this certification for Simone Pérèle?

We have had OEKO-TEX certification for more than 10 years and with our SIMONE CARES program we are really doing so much more in the way of sustainability. For us we feel there has been a generation shift and consumers now expect brands to be more sustainable and eco-conscious. It was a natural shift for our brand to be more eco-conscious and this has always been part of our brand DNA.

How did the partnership with Thread Together come about? Why is this the right charity for you to align with?

Our CEO for Australia, Damian Burke, had heard about Thread Together and felt it was the perfect alignment for us. We donate product, preventing it from going into landfill, and our senior leadership team donate time to help the charity.

Since you joined the company in 2006, what are some fundamental shifts or transformations you’ve witnessed in the lingerie industry?

There was a dramatic shift when the “Me Too” movement emerged where the imagery of women changed and a move to empowerment really took hold. For us as a brand we have been empowering women for 75 years now and have always had inclusivity of all shapes, sizes and women in our DNA.

In recent years we have also seen a shift in lingerie moving from fashion to becoming an accessory, something you wear to be seen. There are new categories in our industry now and there has been a move into the Ready to Wear space. There is now a new form of sexiness emerging for women that is more about them choosing their lingerie for themselves not for others.

What can the Australian market expect to see from Simone Pérèle over the next few years?

We plan to expand our sport range after launching it in collaboration with Lucile Woodwards, French Sports coach and creator of The Body by Lucile method. Our SIMONE collection will also continue to be a focus bringing bold colours and styles to the consumer.
We also have plans to expand our digital presence and physical stores in Australia – we just launched our Brighton store in Melbourne in June.

What does “affordable luxury” mean to you?

Luxury to me is about the quality of fabric, quality of fit and the level of style a product has. We have always made sure our product is both luxury but also accessible to all women and we do this through our inclusive fit but also our distribution footprint globally.