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Economy

Trendy Clothing Giants Rebrand Paris’ Champs-Élysées

Banana Republic is sparing no expense for Thursday’s grand opening along the Champs-Élysées, where big-name apparel companies now occupy close to 50% of the highly coveted real estate. That’s in part because few others can afford the chic avenue’s sky hig

Window shopping along the Champs-Élysées in Paris
Window shopping along the Champs-Élysées in Paris
Caroline Sallé

PARIS- The black and white marble floor, Art Deco furniture, retro escalator and a series of neo-classical arcades evoke the grand department stores of the last century. For today's opening of its first boutique in France, at No. 22 on the prestigious Champs-Élysées, Banana Republic has spared no expense. The upscale American clothing brand, owned by Gap, even had a barge bring over a fleet of authentic New York taxis for the inauguration. Banana Republic, however, is not the first company to play this little game.

In October 2010, Swedish clothing giant H&M invested 50 million euros to install a 2,800-square-meter flagship on the famous Parisian avenue. Last May, Abercrombie & Fitch's inauguration was a bona fide event, marked by 101 shirt-free male models in front of their first French location, at 23 Champs-Élysées. More recently, at the end of November, Marks & Spencer returned to the prestigious strip, after a 10-year absence. The line to get into the store at the inauguration was several hundred meters long.

The world's fashion showcase, the Champs-Élysées? The high-end address, where some 100 million visitors stroll every year, is coveted by most clothing giants. "For the international fashion brands, it is the new strategic address in Paris, like the Grand Boulevards was 10 years ago," says Marc Bolland, the head of Marks & Spencer.

Exploding rents

Rumors are circulating about the arrival of Aigle and Levi's in February, and the likely arrival of Forever 21, The Kooples Sport or even a third Zara store. "We're on our way to having about 50% of the property be occupied by clothing brands," says Phillippe Vincent, founder and president of the consulting firm Clipperton Development. Five years ago, it was only 40%. If it's not a fashion invasion, it certainly resembles one. And nothing, not even the explosion of rental prices, seems to be able to stop it.

According to a study published in September by the International Real Estate company Cushman & Wakefield, the Parisian avenue once again became the most expensive commercial artery in Europe, with an average rental price of 7,376 euros per square meter. It is the fifth in the world. Vincent says it's worth it cent. "The brands gain credibility and visibility, as well as revenue."

Given that the rents are so high, "only the big luxury fashion brands can pay for the Champs," complains Lyne Cohen-Solal, an assistant to the Mayor's office in Paris in charge of commerce and artisans. "But the area's charm is based on diversity. A mixture of luxury, culture and activities. At this rate, it could end up like Oxford Street in London. Uniformity on the Champs-Élysées would mean the end to the most beautiful avenue in the world," Cohen-Solal worries.

Read the original story in French

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Society

Lionel To Lorenzo: Infecting My Son With The Beautiful Suffering Of Soccer Passion

This is the Argentine author's fourth world cup abroad, but his first as the father of two young boys.

photo of Lionel Messi saluting the crowd

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates the team's win against Australia at the World Cup in Qatar

Ignacio Pereyra

I love soccer. But that’s not the only reason why the World Cup fascinates me. There are so many stories that can be told through this spectacular, emotional, exaggerated sport event, which — like life and parenthood — is intense and full of contradictions.

This is the fourth World Cup that I’m watching away from my home country, Argentina. Every experience has been different but, at times, Qatar 2022 feels a lot like Japan-South Korea 2002, the first one I experienced from abroad, when I was 20 years old and living in Spain.

Now, two decades later, living in Greece as the father of two children, some of those memories are reemerging vividly.

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