Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Harry Goes Shopping In Paris

The Thoughtful Dresser had suggested I check out Bon Marche ( her favourite store in Paris).
It turned out to be another case of women being far better served than men. Not that I necessarily begrudge this, because, after all, they account for far more significant business.
But the menswear section had all the charm of a 70’s department store, ie none.That time before the retail ‘revolution’, before space and light were introduced to the shop floor. It was dull. Some decent stuff , and some good names ( Etro, Cerrutti, Paul Smith) but a very edited selection. I wasn’t sure who they were supposed to be appealing to. It wasn’t me.

I also paid a visit to Printemps sale. I searched for a tab collar shirt, thinking I might have more luck than in London. But to no avail. So I bought a summer scarf by Agnes B. Not that we have had much of a summer in which to wear it.

I did make one discovery though. On my walk from St Germain ( where I visited the Diptyque store for a present for my cousin) to Bastille, ( no, I wasn't wearing hiking shoes) I had the good fortune to come across a shoe store previously unknown to me. Bexley is a French label producing shoes in what I would call classic English designs, and some with a modern/Italian inflection. Properly made….with Goodyear soles for instance. And they were very reasonably priced. I made off with a pair of suede loafers ( with a bit of a nod to Tod’s).
Now, I know that men’s footwear is , by and large, deeply boring . But the reason I mention this is because you really do have to hunt out decent designs and well made shoes.
They have a web site, so they may well be getting some more custom from me when the season turns.


lagatta à montréal said...

That is a lovely walk from St-Germain to Bastille... no, of course you don't need hiking boots, or ghastly white trainers. Good soles are a help though, as you say.

Especially when making a pilgrimage to Père-Lachaise on a cold, damp, blustery day, as the cobblestones are very uneven and there is a pronounced slope from front to back of the fabled cemetery.

Agnès B does do beautiful men's shirts, but you have to like her particular style.

fran martini said...

Harry, it appears that shopping for men is the exact opposite experience that it often is for women...that fluttering of the heart, rush of adrenalin, leap for joy (hmmm, sounds like really good sex...) when you find the perfect sweater or the bargain of the century, etc etc.

Do men get a buzz out of shopping?

Drew said...

Men certainly do get a buzz out of shopping - well i do. Nothing better then finding an investment purchase or a random bargain find. But we are poorly served. Menswear lines it seems to me are often just a token gesture. Even large retailers like topshop - the menswear is quite poor and staid these days (hence the moniker it now has of Tat-man). Only a few high street retailers seem to put equal amount of effort/thought into there menswear to my eye, and they are All Saints, Reiss, Cos and surprisingly this season River Island. However we do fare better than women when it comes to jeans.

I also think menswear will change dramatically in the comming years. It is only comparatively recently that it has become acceptable for boys/men to take an interest in appearance and as this group ages/grows up the market is going to have to adapt to accomodate.

As for mens shoes we seem to prefer the safe and sensible option - Alfredo Bannister does some good if quirky designs - just bought some amazing darkest chocolate brown boots for winter.

My most recent bargain some dove grey suede brothel creepers from YSL - found on sale less the half price in Browns.

PS And why is it menswear is invariably in the basement of most stores?