PARIS — Situated among orthopedic shoe stores, natural wine bars and bobo restaurants, La Petite Fripe sells vintage footwear to fashion designers and their Parisian muses.
The pocket-sized boutique, located in the 11th arrondissement’s trendier zone, exclusively sells unworn, dead stock vintage shoes. While only open since September, the store has quickly culled a fan base including girl-about-town Clara Cornet, model Louise Follain and actress Pauline Jacquard. It has also become a sourcing ground of inspiration for footwear designers at some of Paris’ leading fashion houses, with designers accounting for half the shop’s sales.
Founded by antique and vintage dealer Lhassan Oubakrim, La Petite Fripe’s shelves have recently housed an assortment of Eighties metallic mule pumps, dandy loafers and embroidered mukluk boots. Shoes are typically priced around 80 euros, with boots hitting the highest price point at about 280 euros.
Here, Oubakrim speaks with WWD on about his store.
WWD: What is your work experience prior to opening this boutique?
Lhassan Oubakrim: I have been a bargain hunter and an antique dealer for years. I love unexpected discoveries and the feeling of finding one amazing piece amongst a mountain of s–t. It is both my work and my passion.
I had another shop before. The first Petite Fripe was on the Rue Oberkampf — only 400 meters away from my current shop — where I used to sell vintage clothes and accessories. After eight years, I was a bit bored and looking for a new challenge. My intention was to leave Paris and open a restaurant in Marseille, but when I was there scouting some locations, I found the opportunity to buy a huge stock of unworn vintage shoes. The idea of La Petite Fripe Shoes began to take shape and I decided to stay and look for another commercial space in my neighborhood.
WWD: I understand that all of your shoes are new, and never worn. Is this a rule for your shop?
L.O.: Exactly! That’s the concept. None of the shoes have been worn. My thing is to find unsold stocks of old shoe shops or closed shoe factories. Most of the shoes, I would say about 95 percent, were made in Italy, and the other ones in France.
WWD: Are there any decades, styles or periods of time that you enjoy focusing on?
L.O.: I love the Seventies and Eighties because the designs and colors were extremely diverse, and still made with high-quality leather.
WWD: As we know, many fashions today are pulled from vintage. Does your store function as a source of inspiration for designers in Paris?
L.O.: Totally. Half of my clients are shoe designers, working for their own brand or for famous luxury brands. I cannot disclose who, though. I am a pro.
WWD: Do you see any trends in your sales now? What styles are people enjoying the most?
L.O.: I noticed the big come back of square toes and pointy tips, but only among fashionistas and young clients. It’s a consequence of the Nineties trend. Last summer I sold a lot of mules.
WWD: In recent years, vintage culture has changed. In the past, there was a stigma attached to vintage shoes, whereas now they are perhaps becoming more accepted. Do you think this trend will continue to grow?
L.O.: Well, having sold vintage shoes in my former shop, I know that people are most often reluctant to put their feet into worn shoes, mostly for hygienic reasons. But this is not a problem in my shop since the shoes have never been worn. You have the vintage and the hygiene — the best of both worlds.