Letter from Paris 5: An American in Paris
Abercrombie and Fitch certainly likes to arrive in style. When it landed in the UK, the US clothing retailer set up shop in a grand Georgian house in Londons ultra-expensive Mayfair. by Angela Beevers
Controversially it was peddling its frayed frat-boy and frat-girl garments at the end of Savile Row, the bastion of traditional British Tailoring.
Now it is about to open its first store in France. Work is nearing completion on a huge stand-alone building on the Champs-Élysées in Paris where rents are reportedly the second highest in the world (Bond Street overtook it last year). Opening is scheduled for May or June this year.
Quite what the French will make of the distressed, label-strewn American casual wear remains to be seen. This is a country that has given us chic, stylish and restrained reworkings of casual classics courtesy of Agnes B, APC and The Loft. Paris is a city that continues to wisely take its inspiration from Jean Seberg’s effortlessly cool attire in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. And it’s also setting its own new directions with labels such as Kitsuné.
So building an Abercrombie and Fitch store on the Champs-Élysées where there’s a huge volume of tourist traffic was a sensible choice. Even if the locals find its clobber too garish and scruffy, you can be certain that the store will pull in hoards of overseas visitors and become a visitor attraction in itself. Its countless customers will be stumbling around in the dark while being deafened by cheesy music before queuing up for ages to hand over stacks of hard-earned cash, just like in London.
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