PARIS — The French may be taking to the streets to protest the war in Iraq, but they’re still buying clothes — and most are leaving politics out of the equation when it comes to American brands.
This story first appeared in the April 1, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
An informal survey of shoppers on the streets of Paris on a sunny day last week found that most of them have no intention of boycotting U.S. apparel brands because of the war in Iraq. Here’s what they had to say:
Occupation: Financial director
Shopping at: Quiksilver
Change in shopping habits: “My shopping habits haven’t changed yet.”
Thoughts on American brands: “I only wondered if Quiksilver was American when I was paying for the item. I just think of an item’s quality and style and not the brand’s origins.
“I wouldn’t boycott American brands such as Quiksilver and the Gap. However, to be completely honest, I would eventually boycott global companies such as Coca-Cola or McDonald’s, which represent the side of America I don’t like.”
Occupation: Window designer
Shopping at: Zara
Change in shopping habits: “My shopping habits haven’t changed since the beginning of the war. I have purchased several items from stores such as H&M, the Gap, Zara and Mango. I love the cheap and chics.”
Thoughts on American brands: “I am against the war but I am not anti-American; it’s important not to mix the two.”
Occupation: Public relations
Shopping at: Zara
Thoughts on American brands: “I shop at Zara, Vanessa Bruno, the Gap, Zadig & Voltaire and I don’t consider the brand’s origins when I buy. I don’t boycott American products. There is a big difference between (U.S. President George) Bush and
Shopping at: Gap
Thoughts on American brands: “I would never boycott American brands because I wouldn’t want people to boycott products from my country. I love the style at the Gap and the sun (outside today) makes me want to buy.”
Shopping at: Gap
Thoughts on American brands: “I don’t boycott American brands because I don’t want the Americans to boycott French products. It’s a bit ridiculous…the only thing that would lead me to boycott a brand would be forced child labor. The weather motivated me to shop.”
LAURENCE Le BORGNE
Occupation: Restaurant services
Shopping at: Gap and Zara
Thoughts on American brands: “I am very annoyed with the American government. However, I would never boycott their products. Besides, American products are so integrated into our daily lives it is impossible to boycott them. I did, however, cancel my vacation to the U.S. with my family. I always buy clothes for my son at the Gap, and for myself, too, of course. And I haven’t changed my budget.”
Shopping at: Zara, Gap and
Thoughts on American brands: “I would have boycotted American products if there would have been a real impact. However, if I were to boycott American products, the impact would have been very small, whereas if the same were to happen in the U.S. to French products, the consequences would have been much worse. Myself, I ordered a pair of Seven jeans from Urban Outfitters just yesterday.”
Shopping at: Gap, Charles
Bosquet, and Apostrophe.
Thoughts on shopping and American brands: “I think I have bought more this year than last year. I’m in a shopping mood. I would never boycott American products; I don’t think there is a direct relationship between political and economical activity, at least not in products such as clothing and beauty products. But I wouldn’t be as sure about the link between Bush and Texaco. OK, maybe I would boycott gas from Texas.”
Occupation: Sales representative
Shopping at: Etam
Thoughts on shopping and American brands: “I was not shopping for anything in particular, just browsing around with my mom. I am not changing my shopping habits in any way these days, and I would not do it in regards to American brands because of the war. I’m certainly not going to wear black because there is a war.
“It’s not because Americans boycott French products that I feel like doing the same thing. And I don’t have anything against American brands, more against Bush himself. If I were to boycott, it would be a more emblematic brand like Coca Cola or McDonald’s, which I don’t eat anyway.”
Shopping at: H&M
Change in shopping habits: “Now, I would not change a thing in the way I dress. I just bought two tops at H&M because they were so cheap. I like certain brands. I usually shop at Mango or Kookai. I am not spending less because of the war in Iraq and I would not change my shopping habits regarding brands because of it either. I don’t intend to boycott any American brand.”
Shopping at: C&A
Change in shopping habits: “I often go to C&A because it’s close to my job and because it’s not expensive. I am not changing my shopping habits right now, but if the war lasts a long time, it will affect the economy in the long run and then I will be more careful about how much I spend. Because we live in Europe, we are not so affected. I have family in South America and I know that since the beginning of the war, everything is more difficult over there. At this point, I would not boycott American brands because of the war.”