Skip to main content
News / At the Caserne Paris, tomorrow’s fashion is sustainable

At the Caserne Paris, tomorrow’s fashion is sustainable

To extinguish the fire that threatens to consume the entire fashion industry, an old fire station is reborn from the ashes.

The oldest fire station in the capital had been abandoned since 2005. Under the leadership of public authorities, the Paris City Council and private investors, it has become a gas pedal of ecological transition for fashion. The Château-Landon barracks in Paris has become the largest incubator in Europe dedicated to responsible fashion and is the most ambitious project for the future of the textile industry. The instigators have the ambition to duplicate this concept elsewhere and in other industries.

Nicolas Thouvenin

Six red brick buildings have framed a prestigious paved courtyard since the late 19th century. One of them overlooks the train tracks for the North. Two wings served as hangars and could accommodate dozens of red trucks that would start up with sirens blaring at the slightest alert. A string of cells that served as dormitories and rest rooms for firefighters, line up as far as the eye can see … We can not really say that the first fire station in Paris, built from 1850 and disused since 2005, lent itself to the creation of fashion and research aesthetics, silhouettes or new consumer habits.

A fashion village


And yet, two years after its opening, the immense building constructed by architect Antoine Soudée, a student of Henri Labrouste, which houses the aptly named Caserne Paris, could not have found a better destination. The architects of Chaix&Morel were not able to show much imagination. The place is classified. But they have done wonders. In the specifications, when the firm won the tender, the City of Paris, owner of the plot since 1849, and its real estate company (RIVP) had clearly indicated that they wanted to make it “an innovative, dynamic space, open to its neighborhood and to the inhabitants… while respecting the architectural and historical heritage of this site.” Designed to accommodate 150 men, the barracks included kitchens, a refectory, teaching rooms, apartments and bedrooms, equipment sheds and a gymnasium.

Nicolas Thouvenin

Today, it includes creative workshops for 47 young residents, a material library, a state-of-the-art Fab Lab, a photo studio, a fashion boutique under the L’exception banner, a sensational green roof top, a reception and conference room, a florist, a café, a restaurant and a nightclub, called Carbone… A real village, alive and dynamic, in which the fashion of tomorrow is being designed.



“The genius idea was to create a glass and steel footbridge that links the six buildings and symbolizes exactly the concept of the Caserne Paris,” says Maeva Bessis, the young general manager and initiator of the project. Representative of the online sales site of eco-citizen fashion brands L’Exception (which won the tender for the operational, organization, management and animation alongside Impala, the Parisian investment fund), she believes that “this hyphen all in sobriety, for a minimal use of materials, is one of the elements that projects in modernity, the present moment. However, according to Maeva Bessis, “it also has another, even richer meaning. For the first 47 residents and the small team at La Caserne, “the collective dimension is essential and the fact that we have created a breadcrumb trail that links us all and leads to a sort of village square, in the paved courtyard of honor, full of life, symbolizes our desire to be in permanent exchange. It is particularly inspiring.

La Caserne Paris

It was necessary: to transform in depth an industry accused of all the evils and crystallizing all the misdeeds of the globalized society of mass consumption, the new fashion must embark the largest number. Fashion that is necessarily eco-responsible, collaborative, respectful of the planet and its resources, including human resources.

La Caserne Paris

Please note: The eco-responsible issue that the Caserne Paris has embraced is not only about fashion since biodiversity, with its green roof that serves as a playground and foraging ground for bees, or its florist, who only sells plants of guaranteed French origin is in the spotlight. “We also welcome an ultra creative start-up whose design studio and workshop are in our garbage room because its goal is to transform our waste into useful everyday objects! The same goes for this candle creator who recovers cooking oils from our kitchen to valorize all, absolutely all, resources and raw materials”.



Far from the hushed salons of the beautiful luxury avenues, outside the usual fashion paths, parallel to the dynamic shopping streets that make Paris the capital of fashion, the Caserne Paris is the new fashion stronghold. Firemen’s balls have been in full swing for over 100 years, but military parades have given way to parades that are just as joyful… and far more creative and innovative. When Maisons du Monde wanted to signal its trendy, eco-responsible shift, it was at the newly inaugurated La Caserne that the company decided to shout it from the rooftops. The Woolmark Prize, which awarded prestigious design prizes to promising young designers a little more than half a century ago, but under a different name, discovered and rewarded a certain Yves Saint Laurent and another budding prodigy, Karl Lagerfeld, and chose the green roof top at the top of the Caserne.

La Caserne Paris

The same goes for the Andam prize, whose committee of experts in the Fashion tech category meets in what used to be the barracks’ cells to audition the candidates and deliberate. The presentation of the 2023 prize will take place, as last year, in the large reception hall. “In our economic model, these events, which we host within our walls because they highlight the willingness of certain players to change, to be better and more respectful, allow us to house very young fashion startups, penniless but full of good will, at very affordable rates.”

Training to transform


Out of the first 50 residents, 4 start-ups have already hatched and gone their own way, in stores with a street address. One of them, Julia Faure’s company, Loom, has played the game of revitalizing neighborhood life by setting up shop a few blocks from its incubator.

La Caserne Paris

It’s easy to see why the waiting list to join La Caserne is getting longer and longer. Creative workshops, coworking spaces, meeting rooms related to the theme of fashion, exhibition and animation spaces … this incubator for young companies ensures a role of support as well as showcase, trainer – “because we must train to transform”, insists Maeva Bessis – through a rich and diverse program of “meet-up”. “No, these are not conferences, but rather meetings where the exchange with the public is often much longer,” she emphasizes. In all, La Caserne has about 1700 m2 of workshops and offices for fashion brands or service companies closely or remotely related to the transformation of the fashion industry.

Isabelle Manzoni