France sure has produced some of the best brands and designers fashion has to offer. Coco Channel and Pierre Balmain are just two of the huge household names out there. This guide will inform you of eight French brands you need to be aware of.
Many consider Paris to be the fashion capital of the world. It is, after all, the home to many headquarters of legendary fashion brands including Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Dior. Paris Fashion Week began in 1973 and has since become one of the most respected fashion events of the year. In fact, so much so that brands have picked up their bags from New York Fashion Week as they would rather show at Paris instead. Rodarte, Proenza Schouler and Lacoste are some of the brands who have done this.
We're not sure whether it's because Paris Fashion Week attracts more coverage, or because they're just really big fans of escargot, but either way Paris' fashionable status is continuously on the rise.
We have collated our eight favourite French clothing brands that we believe every man should be aware of. So, read on for more, s'il vous plaît.
A.P.C was founded in 1987 by Jean Touitou, who still runs the French label now. But do you know what A.P.C stands for? Unless you're French, I doubt it. A.P.C is an abbreviation for Atelier de Production et de Creation which translates to Production and Creation Workshop in English (cool right?).
A.P.C is now sold in 63 stores in 10 countries. The London boutique opened in 2009 on Dover Street, and us English folk have, naturally, taken a keen liking to the French brand. They have a solid Instagram following of 792K and their clothing is stocked in most major stores in London, including Selfridges.
Gildas Loaëc and Masaya Kuroki created the brand Maison Kitsuné in Paris in 2002. Gildas Loaëc was a former member of Daft Punk (you know, 'Get Lucky'). They combined their interests of fashion and music to create the brand Maison Kitsuné. Kitsuné means fox in Japanese and is a symbol of versatility. Apparently, a fox has the ability to change its appearance, and this is something the designers wanted to reflect in the adaptability of the brand and its products.
Now, Maison Kitsuné has over 300 points of distribution around the world and 10 of their own boutiques in Paris, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Two friends created Maison Labiche in Paris in 2010. One of them was a stylist and the other was a designer. Together, they combined their love for embroidery to create the brand. They work with soft cotton to create T-shirts that have chain stitch embroidery phrases and logos on them. They wanted to reflect their customer by the designs they put on the T-shirts, hence the ‘99 Problems’ and ‘Notorious’ tees.
The brand opened up their first store in Paris on their fifth anniversary, and they are now stocked in many places over Europe, including us here at The Idle Man.
In 2008, Stephane Ashpool created Pigalle Clothing. The brand got its first main exposure through a collaboration with Nike, where they created a basketball sportswear range. Ashpool designed for the scene of the Pigalle neighbourhood to create a Parisian brand that bled culture.
Pigalle now sells and creates streetwear and sneakers. Their clothing is brave and vibrant, combining graphic prints, cool fabrics and interesting detailing. If you're an art and fashion lover, you'll get on with Pigalle very well.
Lacoste originated from French tennis player and legend, René Lacoste, who won his first tournament when he was only 17. At the age of 20, he went on to win the French Open as well as 10 Grand Slam titles. Impressive, right? Here's the fun fact: a reporter overheard Lacoste talking about a bet he had placed over an alligator skin suitcase, and from this, he was allocated the nickname Alligator. Do you think the Lacoste logo is a coincidence? It's not.
Lacoste is now one of the top fashion brands for polo shirts. They're also well known for their footwear, perfume, leather goods, watches, eyewear and French sportswear.
Drôle de Monsieur
Drôle de Monsieur (or Funny Man to us English) is a French ready-to-wear brand that began in 2014. The brand was created by two French fashion designers who lived far from the fashion capital, Paris. They titled their first collection 'Not From Paris Madame' which then caught on to be the brands' catch phrase. I'd be surprised if you haven't seen one of the long coach jackets with the words printed on the back.
Drôle de Monsieur create clothes that are gender free. No, they're not trying to make a guy squeeze into a size 6 dress. They have created boxy T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, caps and their most popular pieces, the coach jackets. They keep their typical French clothing style of minimal and modern, which makes for great staple wear.
Established in 2012, Études clothing is a menswear brand that creates clothes, accessories and books. The books they create have a strong focal point of art and photography; ideal for the Études customer. Their plain minimal logo tote bags are pretty popular due to their simple design and the general new found love of the humble tote. In fact, all their clothing is fairly minimal. This seems to be a reoccurring theme with French Brands. They pay a lot of attention to detail and fabrication, which we think is the best way to go about it.
Études are based between Paris and New York but have a few stockists in London. If you want to get your hands on this French brand, head over to their website.
Vets are, debatably, one of the best high-end fashion brands. There is no possible way you wouldn't have heard of Vetements if you follow fashion. They really did take the fashion industry by storm, creating a lot of controversy amongst fashionistas, due to their extortionate prices and unusual trend settings. The brand was created by Demna Gvasalia in 2009, who is also Balenciaga's creative director, as well as a few other anonymous creatives.
The word 'Vetements' is actually pronounced vet-MAHN and it's the French word for "clothes." A lot of people took this straight up as a fashion piss-take, however, you can't deny that they cut straight to the point. On the topic of cuts, Vetements have a strange way of cutting their garments. Most of them are ridiculously oversized, and this knocked on and became a popular trend (with the help of Yeezy). Is Vets the best of Parisian clothing? The debate continues.
On That Note
We love the fashion that France has to offer. In fact, this could be the perfect opportunity for you to give yourself an excuse to visit the beautiful city, which seems like a win-win! Go and explore these stores in person and enjoy the full experience of what French clothing brands have to offer, as well as exploring their culture and best of all, their food. However, if your pennies are too tight for a flight, pop online and treat yourself to a few items from the comfort of your home. Remember, French fashion is minimal in design and detailed on cut and fabrication, so pick out staple pieces that you can easily incorporate into your wardrobe. Et Voilà!