So even the shopping mecca that is Colette has gone “Parisexit”. And if news reports are true, brick and mortar stores worldwide are facing hard times ahead in the face of digital retailers and declining sales. So what does a French brand to do?
For the oldest department store in Paris, the answer is to combine the best of both traditional store retail and e-commerce. In June, the 179-year-old Le Bon Marche, which is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH, launched 24 Sevres. The website’s name is a nod to Le Bon Marche’s home address at 24 rue de Sevres. But if you are going to easily dismiss it as just another online store on the world wide web bloc, just hold that thought.
For one, the site is not jam packed with brands; it does not even stock all of the names carried at the physical store. Instead, what you’d find here is a tightly selected range of established homegrown and international brands like JW Anderson, cult labels like Pallas, and more under-the-radar ones like La Prestic Ouiston. If discovering new names is one of the thrills of online shopping, then you might get that here.
Also, every merchandise is tastefully presented like an actual store merchandise — it’s either hung on metal mannequins or crates. Suffice to say, it is a highly visual way approach to online shopping. As LVMH’s chief digital officer Ian Rogers told the Financial Times: “We are entering the second phase [of e-commerce], which isn’t about technology, it’s about customer experience.” Our only gripe? The site doesn’t do same-day deliveries (shipment takes two days to Singapore) like most sites.
That aside, we highlight some of our favourite French brands from the site.
The brand doing elevated basics: Stouls
What: The 13-year-old brand founded by Aurelia Stouls, a native of Paris’ Left Bank. Stouls is an alum of New York’s Fashion Institue of Technology and cut her teeth French fashion houses such as Balenciaga and Thierry Mugler prior to launching her womenswear label.
Why we love it: Leather is her M.O. and she makes wearing one super practical. For one, they’re washable (we’re not kidding). Secondly, their lightweight quality makes them suited for summer dressing (basically what we do in Singapore year round). Lastly, her effortless French chic designs like culottes and slim-fit pants are the answer to a wardrobe upgrade.
The anti hype beast sneaker label: Zespa
What: The luxury French sneaker label that fits somewhere between our go-to the fashionable Common Projects kicks and those Gucci Ace sneakers. Founded in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence in 2009, the brand still produces their shoes there till today.
Why we love it: Because the white sneaker has morphed from being a wardrobe basic into a luxury must-have. The tasteful designs (nothing too ostentatious or loud here) and premium material it uses (all of the shoe uppers are made from buttery calfskin) make the shoes perfect for minimalist fans. The shoes are also produced in limited quantity, so there’s also that cool niche factor.
The insider suitmaker: Pallas
What: For the past five decades, this family-owned atelier has been the go-to makers of suits and tuxedos for top French houses such as Celine and Balenciaga as well as personalities from Queen Elizabeth II to Lady Gaga. The business is now run by the husband and wife team of Daniel and Veronique Bousquet.
Why we love it: If you love the lean and sophisticated fit of smoking jackets and evening tuxedos, this is the brand to know. The brand’s attention to details is also noteworthy. Cue the logo tag which is designed by the art director of French Vogue, hand-sewn linings and covered buttons among others. Plus, each design is cut and sewn by one tailor from start to finish so the consistency in the finished product is always maintained.
The fashion brand to watch: Gauchere
What: The brainchild of 35-year-old German-born, Paris-based designer Marie-Christine Statz. The Parsons School of Design alum was assistant designer to Narciso Rodriguez and Diane Von Furstenberg and certified a couture designer by the industry’s governing body Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne.
Why we love it: Technically-sound construction sans the stuffiness. Her designs toy with masculine and feminine influences as well as architectural themes and forms. This exclusive coat design for 24 Sevres (pictured) is co-designed with the scion of the Bugatti car empire and comes with removable sleeves and can be turned into a dress
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