The animal that is the fashion world is one that undulates, evolves, and retreats seven steps back for every three it advances. Whether it’s a new provocative film or just a complex feeling that demands expression, both fashion and those who inspire it are in constant motion, bound to the mercy of whatever fleeting mood or object makes itself known. Twins Maxime and Alexandre Mussard, faces of the brand Twins For Peace and seventh generation descendants of the Hermès family, have embraced the fluidity of their industry. Rather than just creating beautiful clothes, the Parisian pair are trying to better the world one collection at a time. From Brazil to India, Maxime and Alexandre have traveled across the world to bring clothes to impoverished children, and spread their motto, “Be Cool Be Good.” The designer- philanthropist duo gave a peek into the creative process and all of their current projects going on behind the scenes of this burgeoning, humanitarian fashion brand.
Twins For Peace was founded in 2009. How has the brand evolved since its inception?
Twins For Peace started its adventure with one unisex canvas shoe in five colors. Since then, the brand has developed around fifty sneaker models, a small prêt-à-porter line, an accessories line, a flagship shoe store in Paris, and has given shoes to over 10,000 children in five different emerging countries.
What aspect of your work is most meaningful to you?
The most meaningful aspect of our work is designing our collections and the donations we do. We work hard for our ideas and our inspirations: for us, the Twins, it is our life to create our shoes, prêt-à-porter line, and accessories. This is what we do and this is what allows us to help others, to try to give a better life to children around the world.
Explain the research process that goes into creating one of your “Shoe Projects.”
Every Shoe Project is an encounter in our life with a friend, a stranger, or someone we meet that has a connection to a charity organization. We always work with an organization that we know or discover, to whom we offer a concrete agenda to help children in need. The idea is to prepare a one-week trip with the organization to meet the children, look for a local shoe factory, and organize games with the children to get to know them. It is very important for us to buy the shoes locally in order to bring revenue to the country’s economy. The last day [of the Shoe Project], we give donations personally to the children in need. Today, we have created a strong relationship with some associations, like Gol de Letra (Brazil), SOS Enfants (France), Magic Bus (India), and Jean Felicien Gacha foundation (Cameroon).
Your motto is “Be Cool Be Good.” How did you come up with that tagline and what does it mean to you?
When we created the brand in 2009, our motto was “Buy One Give One.” So, when you buy one pair of shoes, one pair is offered to a child. However, we have realized during our travels, that children have other needs. So we changed our philosophy to “Be Cool Be Good.” A percentage of our accessories sales goes to funding the development of education programs, and our clothes help fund accessibility to healthcare. These few words have great meaning for us; they are inseparable: you have to Be Good to Be Cool.
There are other companies, such as Toms, that donate a pair of shoes for every pair that they sell. How is Twins For Peace different from those other companies?
There are differences and similarities to Toms. The first place where we differ is that we have two talented twin designers who do all the collections and stores, like the one in Paris which was designed and realized by Alexandre. We also differ in that we are a French brand that offers products made in Europe which adheres to high quality standards as well as proper work conditions. Moreover, regarding the charity side, we do not offer the same shoes to all children. We adapt the donation to the needs of each child. In Colombia, for example, there were floods shortly before our arrival, so we offered rain boots. Soccer was a favorite hobby of the children we met in Mozambique, so we [brought] them sneakers. We also offer shoes produced locally. In other words, we buy the shoes for children [from their home country] where the Shoe Project [is taking place]. Finally, we help children with their education and health by purchasing vaccines, donating books and school supplies, and providing teachers’ and doctors’ training.
When you design a shoe or an article of clothing, what are you inspired by? Are there any themes or images that you’re drawn to in particular?
Maxime: Inspiration comes from everywhere, but especially from my childhood memories. I say to myself, Okay now I have to create the new collection, and the ideas come instinctively.
Alexandre: People, places, moods, memories, dreams. The colors are, for me, the most important thing, followed by forms and materials. In terms of places, museums are a great initiator to create. We have the feeling that everything is possible. Childhood is always present and fundamental [to our creativity]. The culture of my teenage years—the 80s and 90s—are really integral to my creativity and inspirations, as well.
Looking forward, what are your plans for the future? How do you see Twins For Peace growing and expanding in coming years?
In the future, we’d like to have a Twins For Peace store in every big fashion city in the world. [We also plan on] designing new collections, creating new lines, such as children’s shoes or apparel, and new collaborations. We hope to continue to see happy clients and happy children.
Maxime’s WILD Wish: To live in the ocean.
Alexandre’s WILD Wish: To fly and see the world from the sky.
All photographs by Maxime Froge