Francois Girbaud (born 1945 in Mazabet, France) and Marithe Bachellerie (born 1942 in Lyon, France) met in Paris in the early 1960's.
In 1962, they opened a boutique selling American-style denim Jeans of their own design. They were the first to offer faded jeans in 1963, which they made in a launderette.
The Girbauds followed this up by many jean "firsts". Cowboy jeans in 1964, Stonewashed jeans in 1965 and so on.
In 1970, they started selling jeans with bell-bottoms legs and also introduced a "Boutonneux" jean with 50 buttons in 1970. Throughout the 1970's their jeans set the styles for stone-washed and baggy designs. Many of their designs were copied by other concerns. In 1974 they introduced the first baggy jeans, in 1975 the first leather menswear pants.
Girbaud was widely regarded as the fashion designer who pushed the boundaries of fabric innovation, developing new techniques, developing distressed leather and introducing active sportswear. In 1984, they introduced the Cargo Pocket and in 1988 the Metamorphojean which is shown in the picture on the left.
Even today, they are one of the principal companies selling denim garments, particularly pants, in a very wide range of styles. They also use other fabrics like leather, corduroy, khaki cotton, etc.
Girbaud fashion has always been a mélange of technical innovation, fabric, development, street style and novel cutting. They are recognized worldwide for their advancements in fabric design and styling, innovators of denim stone-washing process, distressed leather, wrinkled leather, laser-cut leather and active sportswear fabrics.
Their top line is the SPORCITY collection, and their skiwear line, sold mainly in mountain ski resorts is the ACTIFE collection. They also make womenswear and menswear collections involving nature, technology and culture.
From 1995, Girbaud showed mainly in New York, then recently took to Milan runways. The Fall 2002 collection was shown in Paris at the Petit Palais. This dress on the right, is from that collection. There were many cleverly cut denims and crumpled leathers. The clothes were hip, practical and sure to be a success with Girbaud's techno-party urban fans.
His lines have always had a good recognition in the United States, which makes up about 40% of his global wholesale turnover of close to $ 200 million.
The Girbauds hold 40% share in I.C. Isaacs and Co., the company that controls their US license, and they will have control of the Board of Directors. They have plans for a major store expansion in the US and Europe. Girbaud opened their landmark concept store in January 2002 in New York. Their Left Bank Paris new flagship boutique was opened in July 2002.
Girbaud helped finance a College Rock Tour in 2001 featuring fashion and rock music, to pay back American fans for their loyalty to his clothing.
Another project is to design the paint job for 3 Nissan vehicles for the Aicha des Gazelles, the annual 1600 mile women drivers rally through the Moroccan desert. One car bearing the Girbaud logo will be sold for charity.
The Girbaud Spring/Summer 2003 collection was presented in Paris in October 2002. This is an outfit from that collection.
It was a youthful collection, aimed at capturing a street-smart look. Use of distressed fabric created an interesting finish to pants and vests and the use of techno-fabrics also gave the clothes a charming look.
The Girbaud Fall collection was shown during Paris Fashion Week in March 2003.
As always husband-and-wife team of Marithe and Francois Girbaud showed a very wearable collection of denim garments, cargo pants with oversized pockets and big zippers, as well as double-hooded igloo parkas and leather jackets. The cuts were precise and sure, thanks to the minute precision of laser cutting which the designers use.
A special Fall 2003 show was held in California, at Michael Jackson's Never Never Ranch, on the occasion of Jackson's father's 75th birthday. Ten models walked a runway specially erected showing high fashion and playful couture streetwear to entertain the guests at the birthday party.
During Paris Fashion Week in October 2003, Francois and Marithe Girbaud showed their collection for next Spring. An outfit from this collection is shown on the left.
The Girbaud duo have been innovators for sportswear and particularly denim for a very long time and this season they continued to be so with their "Futur Reflexion" show. Denim became fluid and feminine, cotton was interwoven with threads of silver and leather became a fibre with stitching and embroidery. Familiar elements became new with unexpected adornments.
Fall/Winter 2004 ready-to-wear
The Girbaud Fall collection was presented in Paris during Fashion Week in March 2004. On the right is a suede outfit from the show which was called "Soft City" because it was based on soft leathers, twisted, pleated, coloured, waxed, folded, laser cut, polished and manipulated so it looked so chic, contemporary and modern, it became a must for every girl's wardrobe.
In May 2004, Girbaud took part in the famous New York festival Soho Stroll offering sample sales, discunts, food, cocktails and entertainment along with other neighbourhood stores in Soho. The event was free to the public.
During Paris Fashion Week in October 2004, Francois Girbaud and his wife showed their collection for next Spring. An outfit from this collection is shown on the left.
They took inspiration from times past, and fun on the beach. He mixed the French Revolution, 1950's mods and military khaki, with bright sunlit oranges and reds. Feminine floral prints were worn with baggy drop-crutch trousers and corsetry became outerwear. Flouncy skirts with handkerchief hemlines were matched with crinkled tailored white jackets. It was a sensual and liberal romantic collection.
The husband and wife team's Autumn/Winter collection was shown during Paris Fashion Week in March 2005. Their theme was rag dolls, sort of Charlie Chaplin meets Mary Poppins. Tailored little jackets mixed with flouncy skirts, and floral denim jeans which fastened at the ankle. There was a play with shapes and silhouettes, peeping petticoats, bustles and bustiers, and polyester canvas had been treated to look like leather.
The Girbaud's latest ad shows a group of women wearing their clothes. Unfortunately they have been set up in a very similar manner to the religious figures in the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci "The Last Supper". This caused a real uproar, and the ad has now been banned by the Roman Catholic Church. It is shown below.
Paris Fashion Week
Marithe and Francois Girbaud presented their Spring/Summer 2006 collection during Paris Fashion Week in October 2005. An outfit from the collection is shown at the left. It is a white gabardine pantsuit, with a ribbon tie collar on the jacket.
Claire Campbell works with the duo for the designing for the house. She accentuated a girly floral world with dreamlike handmade gardens and abstract creations. Her creations had cascading asymmetry and fluid movement, super light trench coats and tailored slim jackets were paired with waistcoats where the masculine lines had been softened for women. Girbaud always combines remarkable fabric research with modern laser cuts. Fishtail hemlines, kneepads on casual trousers and hippy stripes were some of the details.