Our roaming cultural lens turns to France, with a rundown of the essential fashion brands that the European nation has to offer.
Birthplace of Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot, Pierre Balmain and countless other fashion symbols, France boasts a long heritage of haute couture, boutiques, ateliers and fashion prestige in a larger sense. Today, the tradition lives on, as streetwear labels and contemporary menswear imprints are upholding France's status as a global fashion hub.
Yes, you've already heard of fashion houses like Dior and Louis Vuitton, but our latest list runs through French skate labels, streetwear brands and menswear imprints that you should know. Dive into our recap of 20 French brands every Highsnobiety reader should know.
Poyz & Pirlz
Built around an effortless sense of Parisian “cool,” prototypical streetwear brand Poyz & Pirlz specializes in basic, wearable gear with eye-catching graphics, while every collection includes a modest dose of cut and sew. In the past, Poyz & Pirlz has cooked up a number of limited products alongside one of our favorite Parisian illustrators Jean André.
Named after Paris's notoriously raunchy Quartier Pigalle neighborhood, Pigalle is the brainchild of designer Stephane Ashpool. While the brand's more accessible, streetwear-oriented offerings are championed by hip-hop artists and skaters, Pigalle's runway offerings air on the other end of the spectrum, often highly avant-garde in nature. This year Pigalle collaborated with Nike for a special edition LeBron 12 Elite.
This eponymously-named label was founded by Versailles-born Agnès Andrée Marguerite Troublé. Previously working as an editor for fashion magazine ELLE and later on as a freelance designer, Agnès opened her own store in Paris' Les Halles district in 1975. Since then, the name has grown into a multinational brand with stores around the world, offering both menswear and womenswear. An Agnès B shop in Paris was once the victim of an attack by graffiti insurrectionist Kidult.
Perhaps one of the most visible Parisian fashion labels on a global scale, A.P.C. was established by Tunisian-Jewish born designer Jean Touitou. The brand's name is an acronym that stands for Atelier de Production et de Création, and in recent years Touitou has worked alongside names like Kanye West, Nike and Louis W. A.P.C.'s raw denim program is a pillar of the brand's of seasonal offerings, while the Parisian brand also deals in homewares that include a popular candle range and Post-Poo Drops.
Alexandre Mattiussi's AMI was launched in 2011 in Paris, with the aim of offering a casual and chic aesthetic to discerning shoppers. Mattiussi's mature vision has won favor with some of the best boutiques around the world, and his seasonal offerings continue to remain amongst the most understated coming out of the French capital. AMI also operates three Paris boutiques and one in Tokyo.
Club 75 is the second incarnation of Ed Banger-affiliated clothing line Cool Cats, run by partners Pedro "Busy P" Winter, Michael Dupouy of the annual collectible publication 'All Gone' and former Ed Banger art director So-Me. In recent months, Club 75 has served up collaborative clothing collections alongside BornxRaised and Parisian record label Bromance.
Le Coq Sportif
Heritage sportswear imprint Le Coq Sportif has made a name for itself in the fields of cycling, football, tennis, and even boxing, creating a broad range of sportswear since the brand's groundwork was laid in 1882. In more recent years, the label has pivoted to deliver limited edition products, including footwear and apparel, bolstered by exclusive collaborations with the likes of retailers titolo and Hanon.
A near-perfect example of Parisian chic executed with modern sensibilities, French label Maison Kitsuné got its start in 2002. Music constitutes a significant portion of the brand's creative wheelhouse, as Kitsuné holds a large catalog of guest mixtapes and exclusive releases. This year Kitsuné aligned with British footwear brand Reebok for a well-appointed collection of sneakers and baseball-inspired gear.
Monsieur Lacenaire is a high-end menswear marque founded in Paris. In 2011, after completing her tenure working in knitwear for brands like Balmain, Kenzo and Hermès, designer Garance Broca set out to leave her own mark on the Parisian fashion landscape. Lofting up her creations, Broca utilizes top-notch fabrics such as 100% Peruvian superfine alpaca wool, Italian merino, British twill and Japanese cotton.
Born in Paris in 2010, Magenta is an independent, skater-owned imprint, with all branding and graphics made in house by founder Soy Panday. Magenta also still runs a skate team, which boasts individuals from the U.S., Europe and even Japan. Head over to the brand's website to peep a selection of Magenta skate reels.
Named for Japanese designer and original founder Kenzo Takada, KENZO is a French luxury goods brand owned by parent company LVMH, who purchased the label in 1993. Today the head creatives at KENZO are Opening Ceremony founders, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, who have successfully instilled a renewed interest in the brand through strong seasonal releases and well-liked designs from the jungle. For several years, KENZO has also kept up an ongoing headwear collaboration with New Era.
Helas is a French apparel company that was formed in 2011 by three skateboarders, Lucas Puig, Clem Brunel and Steph Khou. The trios combined strengths in design, skateboarding and networking have lead this skater-owned outfit to quickly become a globally recognised skate imprint.
Founded in 1933, Lacoste is the namesake of tennis professional René Lacoste. While the brand is likely best-known for its signature polo shirts, Lacoste also includes fragrances, footwear, accessories and luggage as part of its seasonal offerings. The brand's green crocodile logo was assigned after René made a bet with colleague Pierre Gillou, where he had promised René a suitcase in crocodile skin if he won a game that was important for the team. In the end, René didn´t win the game but a journalist covered the anecdote, writing "The young Lacoste did not win the leather bag, but fought like a real crocodile."
Carven founder Carmen de Tommaso purportedly started designing apaprel for herself to wear, as finding clothes to suit her petite 5'1 frame provided a plain challenge. Carven's aesthetic was initially defined by Carmen's taste for world travel and artistic motifs, while green and white stripes later became a common thread in many of her creations.
Based between Paris and New York, Études Studio operates as a creative collective, established in 2012. Études designs and produces men's contemporary fashion, while producing limited edition books and providing creative consulting. Most recently, Études introduced a new "É" capsule collection.
Strongly characterized by a modern interpretation of sportswear, Andrea Crews' oversized, unisex, colorful and bold garments present an uninhibited view of what French fashion can look like. The brand is comprised of two seperate lines, an artisanal made-in-Paris line and a second high street-ready collection. Many of Crews' designs are finalized by cutting, assembling and transforming existing clothing to make new creations..
Merging a modern, minimalist approach together with a keen sense of ergonomics, Côte&Ciel has certainly carved out a place for its distinct accessory range. Although Côte&Ciel is best known for its backpacks, the brand's catalog also includes small pouches, electronics sleeves, wallets and other small accessories. Côte&Ciel’s founders also work closely with Apple on its accessories divisions and support the fashion designer Damir Doma.
Carrying over where the relatively short-lived Brooklyn We Go Hard (BWGH) left off, David Obadia's efforts with Harmony continued through 2015. Bolstered by a flagship store in the brand's hometown of Paris, the brand's offerings have remained on the radar of minimalist menswear fans.
Drôle de Monsieur
Started by two friends with a shared vision of modernism and minimalism, French label Drôle de Monsieur unwrapped their debut collection earlier this year, based around the motto "Not from Paris, madame." The label was created with the goal of sharing products that merge simplicity, timelessness and efficiency.
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