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An American in Paris

Tommy Hilfiger debuts its American-inspired flagship on Paris’s historic Boulevard des Capucines.

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Tommy Hilfiger Debuts American-Inspired Flagship in Paris
ASHION BRANDS THAT embody “Americanness” are generally a little thin on the ground, with Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Levi’s all featuring. Among this select coterie there is Tommy Hilfiger, a brand favored perhaps by a younger crowd and which, in spite of being essentially Stars and Stripes through and through, is a firm international favorite, too.

Proving this point is the recently refurbished flagship in central Paris on the Boulevard des Capucines. This is an exclusive address, being one of the City of Light’s “Grands Boulevards” and, as such, there are the twin matters of the cost of trading in this location and the “protected” nature of the buildings, making it a place where retailers have to tread carefully as far as architecture and design are concerned.

The historic nature of the building in which the flagship resides challenged designers to seamlessly blend old with new.

The historic nature of the building in which the flagship resides challenged designers to seamlessly blend old with new.

With a 7620-square-foot selling area and spanning two floors, this is a significant proposition by local standards. Like most of the rest of the street, the building dates from the 19th century, and the interior is the work of the in-house team working in concert with West London design consultancy rpa:group, whose CEO Nigel Collett says that it has a “one-off look and feel.”

The reworked space is the outcome of a brief which Collett relates was about taking “an existing store, enhancing the space and using existing knowledge about the site to improve it.” All of which means a space with a ground floor that, at 466 square meters (5015 square feet), is almost twice the size of the set-back mezzanine level above it, accessed by an ostentatious staircase.

Given the nature of the building, this is about melding old and new. Originally, this was a bank, and the interior bears many of the architectural elements associated with a Belle Époque banking hall with columns and balustrades across the space. That said, this is a remake with everything from painted glass cladding for the columns, navy materials for the men’s area and red for the women’s, to light oak herringbone floors, leading to a reclad staircase, which is now a high gloss red.

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Navy blue materials are used to demarcate the men’s section while ruby red fixtures and flooring denote the women’s.

Navy blue materials are used to demarcate the men’s section while ruby red fixtures and flooring denote the women’s.

Substantial use has also been made of digital elements across the store to make shopping easier and to help with the business of selection. Practically, this means a range of features including a smart fitting room that can recognize items bought into it using RFID (and then suggest garments and accessories to complete a look), “endless aisle” touchscreens, allowing range browsing, and a mid-shop Style Scanner that acts in the same manner as the fitting room.

Tommy Hilfiger on the Boulevard des Capucines takes a quintessentially Parisian building and adapts it to fit a U.S. fashion brand, to the detriment of neither. It also shows that imposing architecture does not have to overpower an offer and can be successfully made to work with it.

PHOTO GALLERY (18 IMAGES)
📷: Courtesy of RPA:Group

John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.

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