PARIS — It seems that reports of the death of independent retailers have been exaggerated. Buyers at the recent women’s wear Tranoï, Woman and Première Classe Dressing trade shows in Paris were mostly enthusiastic, refuting talk of small boutiques suffering under changes to the industry.
“I’ve seen a big revival the last few years of small, individual stores. People say retail is over, that all shops are closing, but it’s really the big stores that are closing,” Christiane Celle, founder of Calypso and owner of the Clic concept stores, said at the Woman show.
“Shoppers and the younger generation are different today. People don’t want to look exactly like everybody else, and they’re more educated,” she said. Celle’s business continues to expand with a new store in Larkspur, Calif. “There’s a niche for individual things, so I still do amazingly well,” she reported.
Among the spring looks she saw, “there’s a trend of not revealing as much. A lot of women realize that being sexy doesn’t mean showing off all your body.” Celle sees Paris adopting more streetwear, while New York is leaning more minimal. Still, colorful tailored and unisex suits made their mark. Among her finds was the Japanese brand Toujours, and like many, the buyer said she only picks up ethical brands.
Karin Bereson, owner of New York’s No. 6 store, clothing and shoe label, also sounded an upbeat note at the Woman show. “I think business is great because we spend so much time at shows like this, finding brands that are either brand new, or not everywhere. We’re small enough that we can take that risk,” she said.
The brand’s e-commerce and own labels are growing, with collections shown in Paris for the first time this season. Trend-wise, she saw different schools. “You have the Vetements, streetwear, Balenciaga school, and you have feminine, and then minimalist,” Bereson said.
Also popular were relaxed fits, sheer fabrics and organza, while raw denim and rigid indigo continue. Trenches in creative trench-dress form, with adaptable parts, or hidden, baglike pockets stood out, plus flowy skirts, and puffed or ruffled sleeves, while flaming orange, red, rust and stripes were strong. Embroidery showed it’s continuing to trend, while brands and buyers opted for silhouettes adaptable to a range of body types, plus a slower fashion philosophy.
“We want to buy less, and more special things, rather than cheaper things that aren’t going to last,” said Claudia Nella, coowner of the new shop Tidy Street in Brighton, England. She loved Ace & Jig’s bright patterns and sustainability, and Sunspel’s heritage and quality cotton. Nella also regretted no longer buying American brands due to new tariffs.
“We’re really disappointed because we stock a lot of American brands that we love, and now there’s this big import duty. We’re focusing on Europe, but with Brexit, who knows what’s going to happen. It’s very uncertain,” she said.
At Tranoï Week, Sara Falconi, co-owner of Italian store Kimono, acknowledged Italian shops are struggling under changing consumer habits and unusually warm weather, but she kept a positive outlook. “We opened at a crazy time, five years ago, but we’re here. I never thought I’d make it to Paris,” she said, adding that she travels the world hunting for emerging brands.
Tranoï introduced a new venue on Rue Richelieu for international showrooms, including 1st Floor Showroom, representing new Italian brand 5 Progress by Massimo Pepe. Pepe used embellished African fabrics combined with tailored streetwear, like sweatshirts with folk-like, ruffled sleeves.
At Première Classe Dressing and Showroom, which replaced Paris sur Mode, Jo Ogden and Linda Bennet, of the new London shop Atelier 75, loved Happy Haus for its cool, flattering silhouettes. “We saw one of the dresses on somebody, and chased after her, so that’s why we came,” said Bennet.
Premiere Classe Showroom/Dressing
Brand: Happy Haus
Designer: Sandy Chagnaud
Inspiration: 100 percent ecological, sophisticated, seasonless clothing that improves with age. Some fabrics are left raw to save water. New styles have an open, lighter fit, with personalized, embroidered detailing.
Key items: Wide-leg denim pants with a high pleated waist were popular, as were denim dresses and jumpsuits.
Prices: 200 euros to 300 euros
Brand: On Atlast
Designer: Maria Garcia Alonso-Lamberti
Inspiration: The Spanish brand used natural or recycled fabrics for its limited-edition collection, which was inspired by nature and architecture.
Key items: Sheer fabrics on tops, unusual material combinations and lines for all seasons.
Price: 70 euros to 295 euros
Brand: Ace & Jig
Designers: Jenna Wilson and Cary Vaughan
Inspiration: An upcycling, no-waste company. One-of-a-kind woven fabrics are created with Indian artisans on ancient handlooms, before being translated to auto-looms. The collection was inspired by Morocco and American painter Richard Diebenkorn.
Key items: Multiple, easy ways to wear pieces, with customized fabric options, from heavy and structured, to light and gauzy.
Price range: $250 to $350
Designer: Annie Li
Inspiration: This first collection was inspired by French novel “The Lost Estate” by Alain Fournier. The whimsical, retro-edged line comes in original, vibrant prints, with flower-draped appliqués, playing on sportswear detailing.
Key items: Voluminous puff-sleeved flared top.
Prices: $350 to $875