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Parisian Playground

Paris might get all the glory for its fashionable inhabitants, but they are also showing some panache for the sportif life. Here’s what’s hot.

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Paris might get all the glory for its fashionable inhabitants, but they are also showing some panache for the sportif life. Here’s a look at what’s hot in the sporting scene.

This story first appeared in the April 3, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

WITH THE GREATEST OF EASE

First there was yoga, then Pilates. Now, for finicky fitness buffs seeking an out-of-this-world workout, there’s trapeze class at the Club Med World gym in Paris.

“Like any other sport or physical activity, trapeze is very beneficial,” said Nicolas Perrier, head of marketing, Internet and press relations at Club Med World. He said trapeze usage builds up body tone, endurance and flexibility.

“It also helps people gain self-confidence and confidence in others,” he added. “Because students are on the trapeze in the air, the activity helps them overcome a fear of heights and of empty, wide-open spaces, too.”

Participants take part in a warm-up session involving stretching. No special equipment is required, only comfortable clothing. Even jeans will suffice. Once swinging, each high-flying student is monitored by two instructors. The trapeze classes cost about $13 for a single class or $145 for 12 weekly sessions.

BOXED IN

It’s all about looking ready to rumble, sort of. Hip girls in Paris have taken to pairing boxing or judo workout boots with skirts, jeans or cargo trousers as a fashion statement.

“They’re wearing their pants tucked into them a lot,” said Sarah Lerfel, who runs the Paris concept store, Colette. “The trend started last fall and is very strong so far for spring.”

Lerfel said Colette has been selling Adidas and Everlast boxing boots by the dozens each week. “But I don’t think it will continue for fall,” she said. “I think sneakers that stop at the ankle and not midcalf will be stronger for next fall.”

CITY OF WOMEN

Citadium, the three-year-old behemoth athletic equipment and apparel store here, has earned a reputation for its exhaustive product range. Yet, Didier Lalance, who runs the store owned by distribution giant Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, thinks the store can do more still.

Last month, he inaugurated a 10,000-square-foot floor dedicated exclusively to women’s apparel, equipment and shoes, giving the store the feminine dimension it had lacked.

“Business in women’s sports apparel is growing much faster than in men’s,” he said. “And in any case, it’s a well-known fact that women spend more on clothes than men do.”

When it opened, the 60,000-square-foot unit grouped merchandise into four areas: streetwear, athletic, outdoor, and ski and skateboarding.

“We definitely missed the women’s business,” Lalance said. “At present, it’s about 10 percent of total sales. We think we can bring it up to 30 percent in the next couple of years.”

To accommodate the women’s sportswear and equipment on the third floor, Citadium condensed its outdoor, ski and skateboarding offers onto a single floor, the fourth, leaving streetwear on the first, and tenniswear, golfwear and other sports apparel on the second.

Besides stocking brands such as Reebok, Adidas and Everlast, the store also has opened a Nike women’s corner, the first such shop-in-shop in Europe.

“Women do more sports than in the past,” said Lalance. “And fashion and sports have moved closer together. It’s sure that women’s activewear will become more and more important over the years.”

According to a spokeswoman, Adidas’ vintage line was the store’s top seller for women.

A STEP UP

Can shoe shopping make you want to climb a wall? At Parisian sportswear shop Au Vieux Campeur, it is a natural step in the shoe selection process. Customers trying on a pair for climbing are encouraged to test them out on the six-meter rock wall that’s in the store.

The wall is not only available to shoe shoppers, however. During business hours, it can be used by anyone accompanied by a spotter. For the ascent, people can borrow climbing equipment, including shoes. Au Vieux Campeur, which has some 20 boutiques scattered throughout a warren of streets in the Latin Quarter, just celebrated its 60th birthday.

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