The French fashion designer on celebrating 20 years of Paul & Joe
Sophie Mechaly founded French ready-to-wear label Paul & Joe 20 years ago, launching a menswear label named after her two sons. Over the next two decades, the brand has expanded to include a host of categories, including womenswear, homeware, sunglasses and beauty. With 45 stores across the world, Mechaly opened her latest UK store on London’s Bruton Street in October 2015.
How are you celebrating this anniversary?
I invited all my team and closest friends to a very notorious place in Paris: Bus Palladium. I love this notorious little nightclub and it is my favourite spot to let my hair down and party in the city. Businesswise, we’ve launched various operations to celebrate, including a capsule collection of shirts – the origins of Paul & Joe and a core product in all my collections.
What have been your highlights of the two decades?
During the first decade, I was working to set the basis of the Paul & Joe values and identity, starting with a men’s line and then creating a solid and consistent style for a very demanding woman like me. During the second decade, I expanded my business in various directions: creating lines of products such as Paul & Joe beauty in 2001, [diffusion line] Paul & Joe Sister in 2006, eyewear, lingerie, homeware and accessories. We’ve also opened 45 stores around the world – in places like Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan and Los Angeles. The last flagship store has been opened in London on Bruton Street [Mayfair]. I am so proud of it.
What have been your lowest points?
The fashion business is not only glamour and sequins. Every day is a battle when you are fighting for excellence, fighting with suppliers, manufacturers to make our collections to a high quality, delivered on time – these are all parts of my daily concerns.
How has the industry changed?
With the arrival of ‘fast fashion’, of course we must be more creative, produce the highest-quality clothes and forge a strong and consistent image. When you see so many designers who quit their jobs because of too much pressure from the over-concentrated fashion conglomerates, I believe more than ever in the power of being an independent company.
Out of all your own stores, which are your favourites?
My favourite one is always the latest one, and the last one we opened is in London. This store is our international flagship and offers all collections and categories under one roof, in a new concept which reflects my new apartment, as it is the case from the very beginning when I opened my first store in 2000.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
Stay focused, be true to yourself and have fun.
What do you do to stay inspired?
I travel a lot, I’m always connected to all social media, especially Instagram. I’m also always surrounded by young people, including my two sons, who are very inspirational.
What’s the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
A vintage Chanel black dress from the 1930s.
Favourite clothing brand?
Paul & Joe
Favourite places to shop?
Net-a-Porter, the first and the best
Last fashion purchase?
A vintage Hermès alligator Kelly bag
Biggest fashion splurge?
The Hermès bag
Last book you read?
The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson
Last film you watched?
I re-watched L’Été meurtrier (One Deadly Summer)
Intern at Alaïa in 1987