Paris’s status as the home of world-renowned fashion houses such as Chanel, Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Céline means there’s no denying the city’s high-fashion credentials, but more recently the city has started to open a new chapter in its fashion story, as the Parisian menswear scene takes centre stage.
Paris has become a city of two style halves. On one side is classic Paris, a city of beautifully chic men and women impeccably dressed head-to-toe in timeless Parisian fashion, and on the other is Paris’s formerly underground fashion scene, newly emerged and bubbling with streetwear-inspired labels and independent multi-brand stores catering to the cutting edge in French fashion cool.
The emphasis in young French menswear design has shifted in recent years, with understated looks focusing on the essentials – fabrics, cut and colour – and creating clothes that are neither trend-led nor weighed down by the pomp and circumstance of traditional Parisian menswear.
Ami is in the vanguard of this Parisian nouveau menswear revolution. Founded by Alexandre Mattiussi, the brand’s name is composed of his initials and the last letter of his name, and translates into English as ‘friend’. Ami is being heralded by many as one of the driving forces behind this new wave of Parisian menswear.
‘Ami is a unique concept of ready-to-wear for men, a complete men’s wardrobe, well-designed, easy, chic and, above all, cool. This collection is not about fantasy. It is a proposition of real clothes for a real man,’ explains Mattiussi, who previously worked at Dior, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs, refining their menswear lines. Last year Mattiussi won the Association Nationale pour le Développement des Arts de la Mode (Andam) prize – one of the French fashion industry’s highest accolades for young designers – and a capsule collection in collaboration with Swiss label Bally will make its debut later this year.
Another French label making waves on the international menswear scene is APC. The brand, which offers collections for both men and women, was founded by Tunisian-French designer Jean Touitou, the label’s creative director and a 1992 recipient of the Andam prize. Under Touitou’s creative lead, APC has been defining the minimalist French aesthetic since the late 1980s, a time when the label’s signature clean lines, simple patterns and anti-logo ethos drew comparisons to military uniforms, leading many to consider the brand as ‘anti-fashion’.
In recently years the label has seen a boost in popularity due to its use of raw denim; APC selvage jeans are now a staple of the modern contemporary menswear wardrobe. There have also been collaborations with rapper Kanye West, who launched his second limited-edition capsule collection with the label last season, and thus introduced the label to thousands of new fashion fans. The collection sold out within a few hours.
Paris isn’t just playing host to exciting, minimalist menswear labels; the city’s streets are seeing more and more multi-brand menswear stores appear, all stocking brands that adhere to the new-wave Parisian menswear aesthetic.
Jo is found on a small street in the city’s Montmartre district. The store’s understated grey façade gives little away of the painstakingly handpicked collections inside. However, while you’d be forgiven for accidentally overlooking it, Jo is not a store to miss. Owners Stéphane Ramo and his wife Marie-José (‘Jo’) carefully select every item they stock and the minimalist approach of store’s exterior extends inside, where the focus is solely on the design principles of the collections chosen, rather than on providing endless choice.
Attention is paid to colour, cut and fabric, with European menswear labels carefully selected to ensure the store’s elegant, effortless design philosophy isn’t compromised. Labels such as Paris-based Emile Lafaurie and Dr Denim, Sweden’s latest denim darling, join classic American workwear brand Lee in making the cut.
Royal Cheese, which occupies several boutiques on rue Tiquetonne, is a haven for Parisian fashion fans who seek out rare menswear imports, including pieces by California-based streetwear label Stüssy, jeans by Stockholm-based Cheap Monday and knitwear by preppy British retro-vintage label Farah Vintage, all favourites among the city’s club kids.
The newest addition to the city’s ever-growing list of menswear stores is Beaubien on rue Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth. Named after a metro station in Montreal, owner Julien Bouzereau’s home city, the store is another example of a perfectly curated menswear haven. Stock includes Denmark-based, nautically inspired label Andersen-Andersen, New York’s casual basics brand Dana Lee and Japanese selvage denim brand The One Goods. The store is perhaps a perfect example of Paris’s changing menswear landscape, where understated, detail-focused style is king.
Paris will continue to cater to high-fashion devotees from around the world, but the new focus on minimalist design and carefully curated stores will no doubt become the Parisian menswear aesthetic that draws in a new generation of stylish gentlemen.