The NFT Tailor: French Bespoke Couturier Mathieu Castanier Enters The Metaverse

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Lanie Goodman   Contributor

The NFT Tailor: French Bespoke Couturier Mathieu Castanier Enters The Metaverse

Article first published in Forbes Monaco July 2022/ August 22.

Call it an overriding passion for fashion and high-tech twist. When visiting master tailor Mathieu Castanier meets with his customers, iPad in hand, they not only get to choose the fabric, patterns, lining and buttons of a suit, but they also have a cinematic 3-D model of what it will look like, right down to most the infinitesimal detail.

“About five years ago, I started to sketch the design in 3D by computer and started to work with top American movie industry people who know how to scan the pattern and to show the exact textures to make it look real,” says 42-year-old Castanier. “Touching the screen and using Zoom is the next big thing in the fashion industry,” he adds with a smile. “The customers also find it really entertaining to see what a shirt or a suit will look like before I make it. In the future, my idea would be to present my collection in augmented reality with Apple glasses.”

But that’s not all. Trained in London’s Savile Row and at the company Zilli in France with some of the most celebrated tailors in the profession, Castanier says he’s always thinking ahead. His latest entrepreneurial project: designing
his own system of NFT brand-related purchasing, in sync with his recent relocation to Monaco. As a visiting tailor who meets with clients either at home, at a hotel or on yachts, Castanier also holds trunk shows and special events. And these days, plans are in the making for opening a store in Monte Carlo’s Golden Square which will also include women’s tailored suits.

“Over the past few years, I had a showroom in LA and I also opened a storefront in London in 2019 at the Ham Yard Hotel, between Soho and Mayfair,” Castanier says. However, as it turned out, the combined complications of Brexit and Covid provided a pause for reflection and the concept of the Castanier token was born. “The blockchain and the cold wallet is definitely the future for fashion,” he enthuses. “Customers can invest in my company and buy a token that is equivalent to a jacket, a suit or a shirt.”

But what about clients who want bespoke craftmanship but are not experienced crypto holders? “I’m always happy to explain how the NFT works on a simple level so that everyone can understand,” he explains. “Steve Jobs is the perfect example he was really inspiriting because he helped people to understand the hardware system easily. And for me, what is important is to show the customer not what an NFT is, but what an NFT can give you.”

A surge into modernity that takes nothing away, Castanier says, from maintaining a profound respect for European tradition and sustainability. “All of my fabrics are from Italy, less than 30 kilometers from Monaco,” he states. “I try my best to reduce the carbon footprint and do everything with the artisanal know-how that I was taught. After taking all the measurements, one suit may take anywhere from six to seven weeks to make.”

So what initially drew Mathieu Castanier to the profession of master tailoring? “My parents, who had a retail business,” he acknowledges. Born in MonteĢlimar, on the edge of the Provence countryside, Castanier recounts that his mother, “a great hairdresser,” came up with a novel idea in the early 1980s. “It was actually an early stage of a concept store, between hairstyling and clothing. While the ladies were waiting around in curlers, they could also shop for a dress and some beautiful accessories.

“The blockchain and cold wallet is definitely the futur for fashion. And for me, what is important is to show the customer not what an NFT is, but what an NFT can give you.”

Mathieu Castanier

I was selling dresses by the time I was three or four—my destiny was already decided,” he laughs. Castanier went on to study International Business in Montpellier and had a part-time job at a Big Star jeans store on weekends. “I knew at that point that I wanted to be a private tailor,” he recalls. “It gave me experience about analyzing people’s size, shape and individual morphology.”

After a stint in London working for Massimo Dutti on Regent Street, Castanier returned to France and worked at Longchamp which also gave him insight into the leather luxury market. His next job, at Zilli, he says, was the turning point in his education. “I spent two years at Zilli and went to the factories to learn about every stage of the fabrication of a bespoke jacket. I soaked it up like a sponge.” He cites two important mentors in his career—Zilli CEO and founder Alain Schimel, and his elderly Italian sartorial tailor, Mr. Raponi —who took him into his workshop and taught him everything there was to learn about the profession.

Today, Castanier is looking forward to using technology to give customers even more services through what he calls brand experience. “The NFT also includes perks for customer loyalty—a token may include a product from the best artisanal chocolate, a cigar factory or a bespoke cocktail from the best mixologist at a bar.”

But all in all, Castanier muses, what is ultimately satisfying about the profession of a master tailor is imagining the best possible style for the people he meets, which ranges from high-profile government and business figures to an international mix of celebrities—sports and film stars or a Michelin-star chef and his staff.

“It’s not just about the elegance or selling a suit,” he says. “I’m very happy to give more confidence and power to the people I dress. When you wear my suits, you wear my energy, you wear my passion.” And you’re inclined to believe him.

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Lanie Goodman   Contributor

Born and raised in New York, Lanie Goodman is an arts and travel writer based in the south of France since 1988. She is a contributor to publications such as T-Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveller and Departures, and the author of Romantic French Homes . Formerly a Professor of French Literature at CUNY, she teaches courses in journalism and cinema at the SKEMA at  Sophia-Antipolis. Lanie covers arts , travel and lifestyle at Forbes Monaco.