BHV Planning Men’s Outpost in Marais

The Galeries Lafayette-owned department store plans to add shops and attractions.

BHV Homme store in the Marais district.

PARIS — The Marais district in Paris, already a magnet for shoppers and chockablock with trendy boutiques, is going to become even more of a fashion destination — particularly for men.

This story first appeared in the December 5, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

French department store chain BHV, part of Galeries Lafayette Group, plans to animate the city block behind its flagship BHV Marais department store with a host of new attractions tilted toward male consumers, adding some 20,000 square feet of new retail over the coming years, WWD has learned.

In an interview, Eric Costa, chief executive officer of Citynove, the real estate arm of Galeries Lafayette Group, said BHV plans to open up courtyards linking streets bordering the block, creating a unique, villagelike setting. It has tasked London-based Jamie Frobert Architects for the project.

Barring any unforeseen administrative hurdles, construction should start in spring, with the first of about 20 new shops opening in mid-2015 amidst a stand of mostly 19th-century, Haussmann-style buildings.

According to sources, Givenchy, Fendi and Gucci are among luxury brands in talks to open men’s boutiques on the Rue des Archives. It is understood affordable brands are also an integral part of the mix to reflect the district’s working-class roots.

Designer nameplates such as Givenchy, whose flagship on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré was designed by Frobert, would be new to the area.

Prized for its historic buildings, concentration of museums and art galleries, plus Sunday shopping hours, the Marais district is also home to the city’s gay and Jewish communities.

Costa said BHV is mulling a range of eateries, plus design and accessories shops, to attract a wide swath of consumers of both sexes, merchandising the block like an extension of the department store and heightening its “very Parisian” ambiance.

Costa said he expects the new courtyard attractions and men’s store fronts would also attract individual tourists, as opposed to the bus tours that descend on Galeries Lafayette’s flagship on the Boulevard Haussmann.

In 2012, the BHV Marais kicked off a two-year revamp aimed at bringing some 500,000 square feet of selling space more in tune with its hip neighborhood.

The store renovations, expected to cost 35 million euros, or $47.5 million at current exchange, involve a transformation of the ground and first floors to give customers the feeling they are strolling through the Marais neighborhood, with its narrow, cobblestone streets and period buildings.

Famous for its exhaustive hardware selection in the basement, along with home wares, fashions and DIY products, the BHV Marais location welcomes some 70,000 shoppers daily, the lion’s share of them locals. A large women’s shoe department inaugurated last year is part of a plan to double the space dedicated to women’s fashion at BHV. The unit also boasts what’s billed as the largest perfumery in the neighborhood.

Fashion, which accounts for 30 percent of sales, is expected to grow to represent around half of the business at BHV Marais.

BHV added a 40,000-square-foot, loft-style men’s offshoot in 2007, complete with a ground-floor barber shop — and the new men’s-focused development fans out from its location on Rue de la Verrerie.

Galeries Lafayette is also opening another major attraction in the vicinity — a major art foundation in a building on nearby Rue du Plâtre — and has tapped Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas’ firm OMA for that project. It is slated to open in spring 2016 and in the interim will host ad hoc events, like an exhibition by Pierre Leguillon devoted to Jean Dubuffet typography running Tuesday to Dec. 14 at the site.

The Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette was conceived as a place to create and exhibit contemporary art in all its forms, including visual arts, fashion, design and performance.

Descendants of privately held Galeries Lafayette have assembled a large private collection from which items are regularly displayed at the Galerie des Galeries, an exhibition space inside the Paris department store.

Christophe Girard, who is mayor of the Marais district and also strategy director at LVMH Fashion Group, said he “actively supports” the Marais art project, but declined to comment on the broader development.