Husband and wife Christoph Frehsee and Linda Balti founded the chic and affordable fashion brand Amour Vert in 2010. Headquartered in the Dogpatch, the line is now sold in 350 stores worldwide and counts Gwyneth Paltrow, Blake Lively and Olivia Palermo as fans. The French couple opened their first freestanding boutique in Hayes Valley in summer 2014 and are gearing up for a rapid expansion that will set a new standard for socially responsible clothing.
Tell us about your company.
It’s based on the principle that the modern woman shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for sustainability. Everything from the brand is completely sustainable, and we provide a safe and fair work environment in our factories. The garments are also designed to be staples beyond a season. Everything is made here in San Francisco—in SoMa, South San Francisco, the Dogpatch. And we cut in Oakland right across the bay.
How would you describe the look?
We translate European sophistication into a more laidback, easy-to-wear California style. We take inspiration from timeless French style icons like Francoise Hardy and Jane Birkin. It’s effortless Parisian chic, sporty feminine.
What is it like running a sustainable company?
If you have a mission, it just makes things easier because you have a very clear guideline of what works for you and doesn’t. It makes it easier to actually select our fabrics, even though we have extra work in developing and designing them. So many talented people want to work with us just because we have this mission. It makes it easier to get up every morning and say ok, we’re doing clothes, but they’re amazing clothes that are for a better planet.
Tell us about your fabrics.
They’re super soft. Some are made from trees—from the trees we make the yarn, make the fabric, make the T-shirt. And we plant a tree in America for every T-shirt. We also use silk, a natural fiber, and take a lot of care that the dyes we use on it are all Oeko-Tex certified.
How did your first brick-and-mortar store come about?
We had two pop-ups first and were blown away by the reaction customers had when touching the fabric and hearing our story. We always wanted to build a lifestyle brand that defines a generation, kind of like a Ralph Lauren for the 21st century. The store is a test lab for our clothes.
What fall trends are on your radar?
A lot of mixing textures, sheer and opaque. Or a fine, beautiful printed silk mixed with sweater tissue or organic cotton tissue to deliver this high-low, feminine sporty elegance.
Any advice on how to dress in San Francisco?
We always say layers, layers, layers. Pack great cardigans and jackets. We have awesome sweatpants that you can either dress up or dress down. Mix them with a T-shirt and a bomber jacket, and it becomes a really iconic San Francisco look, perfect for this weather.
What tips do you have for traveling in style?
All you need is a good assortment of very classic covered. A French striped tee always works too.
What recent accomplishments are you proud of?
We had this lofty goal of planting 100,000 trees by the end of 2015, and we’re on track. We were also just accepted to the CFDA.
437 Hayes St., San Francisco, 415.800.8576.