The Belle Époque-inspired storefit at the denim brand’s French flagship should put shoppers in the mood to spend.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Paris, the Rue Etienne Marcel must rate as one of the better places to spend some time. This long street, just around the corner from the mass-market offers of Les Halles, is a roll call of well-known brands with denim specialists such as Levi’s, Diesel, Chevignon and even womenswear brand Naf Naf all putting on the style, both in terms of their offers and store designs.
And now they are joined by a newcomer to the French capital: Replay. The Italian denim brand has taken over a former ceramic store to set up a flagship in the city and has spared, it would appear, no expense in doing so. Replay isn’t a cheap option whether you are seeking a pair of jeans or any of the related merchandise that fills this store, but spend any time in it and you might consider making a rash purchase, so compelling is the store interior.
The PR who greets Drapers claims this is a store that is about more than selling merchandise: it is also intended to be a refuge from the stresses and strains of the Paris streets.
Whatever your view of this, anybody who happens to wander past will want to take a look around and is likely to find that the interior lives up to the promise provided by the fascia and the window displays.
Merchandise and key looks
For anybody walking along the Rue Etienne Marcel the jeans range in Replay will be a pretty familiar variation on a theme.
The entry price for menswear and womenswear is €80 (£68) for a basic skinny leg in a regular, but unsurprising, wash, rising to about €300 (£256) for a Red Seal or White Seal-branded top-end offer created from Japanese fabric. The latter has clearly been hand-stitched and washed by Okinawa
virgins in asses’ milk etc - you get the picture. This range of product would be engaging, but still run of the mill, if that were all the store had to offer. It’s the rest of the collection that adds real interest, however.
With the exception of a few silver-sequined numbers for women, the colour palette in both menswear and womenswear is relatively subdued with olives, rusts and ochres predominating. For men there are the obligatory padded jackets, as worn by every self-respecting Italian male who wishes to cut a dash, very fitted leather jackets and printed T-shirts at €49 (£42).
For women, perhaps the most noteworthy elements are the accessories and footwear, where ankle boots remain important, available at €185 (£158), rising to €295 (£252) for long, black suede boots with metal stud trim around the foot. And if the boat needs pushing out, there’s always a suede bomber jacket at an extravagant €405 (£346).
There is a kids’ department too, and here the unwritten rules are broken, with brights in evidence for boys, girls and babies. Checks, and camouflage details for boys sit opposite a muted pastel range for girls. Shoppers would have to be fairly affluent or extravagant to afford all of this. A short-sleeved Fair Isle-style jumper for a baby, for instance, is priced at €90 (£77). Too expensive really, even if you are used to life’s better things.
Some of the best visual merchandising you’ll see this side of, well, Anthropologie, is on view in this store. Wherever you look, the interior is about detail and just a couple of examples suffice to show how carefully the whole thing has been assembled. In a side room on the ground floor, the wall behind the counter has a backlit, open-front wardrobe fashioned from dark wood and a gallery-like approach has been adopted. The
accessories on display, mostly watches and sunglasses, are a small part of the whole, with the rest of the space filled with props such as porcelain face masks, small globes resting on glass jars and a pewter rocking horse.
It’s a modus operandi that informs the whole of the shop’s appearance; the attention to detail is impressive. The next detail that captures the gaze is probably the mannequins. Some of these are perched in alcoves while others are positioned catwalk style in the windows in a variety of poses, with several wearing face masks. There is even one smoking a porcelain roll-up.
The large windows on all sides of this shop create an impact that must be the envy of others along the street.
It’s very hard to tell what the service in this store might be like as there were no customers - although it is fair to remark that it was a midweek morning and the same was true of all the other shops along the strip. Housekeeping standards were extremely high - generally the result of good service, although it can also be indicative of few shoppers.
Anybody entering this store will probably be hit by a large tranche of the wow factor. Whether it’s the beautifully restored and painted 19th-century ceiling, the curved metal mesh light installation overhead, or the vertical gardens that fill two of the walls, surprise and delight are likely to be the reactions in equal measure. There’s even a wall that has a permanent stream running down its length, fed by pipes from above.
And in the basement, a modern take on this dark and urbane interior has been created, with polished concrete plinths and display fixtures and metal wall coverings. A large screen at the end of one of the basement rooms is linked to a street-level camera. Not only does this provide a panorama of what’s going on outside, but it also acts as a source of pseudo daylight below ground.
Couple all of this with a live vine pergola that links the two floors and this is a retail space where everything has been considered.
Would I buy?
I almost did, but I didn’t have sufficient euros to hand to buy one of the jumpers that was on sale. In spite of yourself you reach for your wallet, as the combination of tastefully muted clothing and an amazing interior persuade you that the time might be right to dig deep.
Replay’s Paris store adds to the city’s retail attractions. If you don’t know Replay, then this space will prove attractive. If you do, then you will want to visit.
Location 36 Rue Etienne Marcel, Paris
Number of floors Two
Size 5,380 sq ft
Opened September Offer Menswear, womenswear and kidswear
Ambience Belle Époque
Building Dates from early 1900s