The French casualwear retailer brings its cross-generation styling to a flagship in London’s Notting Hill.
Mothers dressing like their daughters may sound questionable, but at French retailer Comptoir des Cotonniers it’s as relaxed as the designs. What started as a standard retail concept found its niche when chief operating officer Marianne Romestain saw mothers and daughters taking pleasure in shopping together.
The retailer’s 1,350sq ft flagship store on Westbourne Grove in London’s Notting Hill reflects this relaxed personality. Following a blueprint that debuted in the retailer’s native French stores and has been replicated in its international offshoots, the ivory walls, wood flooring and domed lighting offer an environment that is simple without being bare.
The product, which is merchandised by story in the single-floor shop, hangs on wall-mounted rails, with a central counter the focal point, a consistency found in each Comptoir des Cotonniers shop.
The mother and child shopping concept is not new – Gap and Gap Kids work on the same premise, allowing mothers to shop for themselves and their children at the same time. But Comptoir de Cotonniers’ selling point lies in its designs. Garments for either age group follow similar themes, but remain appropriate for the wearer.
Design director Brigitte Comazzi says: “Mothers and daughters can buy their clothes in the same shop and express their own identity without looking like clones.”
The retailer focuses on classic looks, with understated separates in muted sand, blue, grey and white. It is intrinsic Parisienne style, according to Romestain. “English women are more trend-oriented but also appreciate the French look. We offer wearable designer clothes that cross the generations.”
More trend-led pieces are now being integrated into its collections. The spring and autumn ranges offer core fashion basics, with trench coats, sleek trousers and soft knits alongside army pants, high-waisted trousers and tea dresses. Comazzi says she designs from her own experience of what she wants to wear and adapts that for children. “As people age they want to still dress youthfully, and clean, simple styles can appeal to both mother and daughter,” she explains.
But what about fathers and sons? Romestain says there are no plans to move into men’s and boys’ wear. “It’s something we will consider, but not right now. We know who we appeal to, and the male market would be new territory for us,” she says.
The retailer has grown significantly in the UK since its debut in 2006. The UK portfolio is now nine strong, with stores in South Molton Street, King’s Road, Richmond, St John’s Wood, Hampstead, Marylebone and Wimbledon.
Next up for the UK is a set of department store concessions in House of Fraser, the first of which is set to open in March. There is also talk of a Selfridges tie-up, all designed to cement Comptoir de Cotonniers’ quietly growing presence in the UK.
235 Westbourne Grove, London W11
333: Number of stores worldwide
30: Target doors in the UK by 2010
1995: The year Comptoir des Cotonniers was founded by SA Créations Nelson
10: Number of countries in which the retailer has a presence