PARIS — Perrin is going back to its roots.
The leather goods maker founded in 1893 is setting up its first flagship in France, its country of origin. The 750-square-foot unit at 3 Rue d’Alger in Paris – located midway between concept store Colette and the Tuileries gardens – will be the brand’s first standalone unit outside of the U.S., following openings in Beverly Hills and at the Carlyle in New York in 2009 and 2012, respectively.
“The move is a very strategic one. We have encountered some resistance on the part of our customers, Asians especially, who want us to be more French,” explained Michel Perrin, whose great-great grandmother founded the company in Saint Junien with gloves as its core business.
“The notion behind the new venue is: we have been here forever. This is where we belong,” he added.
The shop is slated to open on Jan. 2.
Having relaunched the label in 2006 with his brother in charge of production and his wife Sally as the brand’s creative director, Perrin relocated the manufacturing to Saigon, where he built a factory from scratch and hired a former Hermès employee to run it.
The factory today employs 30 people, all trained by the Perrins, who acquired their know-how from watching their grandparents in the family-owned business.
In Vietnam, the brand is benefiting from lower production costs and better work ethics, said Perrin, though the atelier remained in Paris and the accessories are made from French leather. “France really has the best skin. Because we eat so much meat, the cattle is well kept and healthy and so the leather is in perfect shape,” he said.
The house’s signature piece is the so-called “glove-clutch,” a marriage between Perrin’s glove-making heritage and modern chic, which the company has patented. Retailing from 800 euros, or $996 at current exchange, the item, which is worn like a fingerless glove, is available in a number of different skins, from box calf to crocodile.
Other pieces can be wrapped around the wrist via jewelry-like elements created by gold and silversmith Goossens, which is owned by Chanel, while bigger formats include 48-hour bags for men.
Perrin said he would refrain from marketing the brand heritage, not wanting to be “too crafty, but chic in a modern kind of way,” which is why he rebranded five months ago, changing the label from Perrin Paris 1893 to simply Perrin Paris. He plans to present a couture collection alongside more affordable off-the-rack pieces.
“We want to channel the artisanship that is germane to Paris and collaborate with other houses such as Lemarié and Lesage,” he said about the feather maker and master embroiderer, also part of Chanel’s stable of artisans.
Perrin Paris, which has seen its sales increase 30 percent versus 2013, is targeting two different groups of women represented by Perrin’s wife Sally on the one hand and on the other their 23-year-old daughter Chloé, a Studio Berçot graduate, who is to bring in her creative vision to attract a younger woman.
Perrin said he is eyeing additional locations, citing Miami and Dallas as the most desirable options. London and Hong Kong are also on the list. “We would like to open one store per year. But we don’t want to be a huge business. We prefer to keep it in the family. If we had 10 flagships in total, we would be perfectly happy,” the executive allowed.