BRICK LANE: L’Exception is the latest online retailer to move from clicks to bricks, slated to open on April 5 in the revamped Forum des Halles shopping center, which is expected to become the second busiest shopping mall in Continental Europe.
The 3,870- square-foot space, designed by Paris-based architect Philippe Rizzotti with furniture by Frédéric Ruyant, will stock around half of the brands that are currently available on the retailer’s Web site. Labels for women and men include AMI, Études, Carven, Maison Kitsuné, MM6 Maison Margiela, Heimstone, Cacharel and Jérôme Dreyfuss. A space will spotlight upstart labels including Etienne Derœux, Monographie and Wanda Nylon.
The brainchild of Regis Pennel, founder of L’Exception, the physical store will be located under a dramatic canopy that will include 17 other banners such as Sephora, Lego and Superdry stores.
Pennel said his retail neighbors include a new Nike store and a concept store called Sept Cinq specializing in French accessories brands.
L’Exception is to devote about 860 square feet to a 30-seat cafe. It has partnered with hip Montmartre baker Gontran Cherrier for the breakfast delicacies, La Petite Table restaurant for the lunch menu, plus Paris coffee roaster Coutume.
“There’s an iPad in each of the six fitting rooms, that will provide the full info on the piece that the customer picked,” said Pennel, while noting “digitization isn’t here to replace the sales person.”
To coincide with the opening, L’Exception has teamed up with 50 brands including Alexis Mabille, Sessùn and Tila March on a capsule collection, with each designer creating an exclusive piece.
L’Exception, which is turning five this year, generated 2015 revenues of 2.6 million euros, or $2.8 at average exchange rates. Between the opening of the store and the growth of the online sales, Pennel anticipates sales between 5 million and 6 million euros, or between $5.4 and $6.5 million at current exchange, this year.
Pennel expects two new restaurants in the Forum des Halles complex, Alain Ducasse’s brasserie Champeaux and Za, a hip bistro designed by Philippe Starck, created by the team of Ma Cocotte eatery in the Saint-Ouen flea market, to draw foreigners. “We think that tourists will make up about a third of our clientele,” he said.