When was the last time you stepped foot in a department store? For many, the answer might be months; for others it could be years. As customers have gravitated towards mobile and online shopping (and away from traditional outlets), the role of the department store in the consumer market has shifted (Just Wednesday, Hudson Bay, the parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, among others announced mass layoffs and restructuring).
While other retailers fight to stay relevant, Paris' premiere luxury shopping destination, Le Bon Marché, is looking towards the future. This week, the 160+-year-old St. Germain staple joined forces with LVMH to sell Le Bon Marché's product beyond its physical location on 24 rue de Sèvres. The new e-commerce destination, aptly named 24 Sèvres, offers up a curated selection of premium goods, from classics like Chloe and Courreges, to more sportswear-oriented labels, like Nike and Yeezy, delivering exactly what visitors head to Le Bon Marché for: High-end, on-trend items that reflect French-girl style.
"With 24 Sèvres, we have created a unique shopping experience; our ambition is to service the customer by providing a platform which pays homage to traditional retail whilst providing a wholly modern experience (Le Bon Marché itself has always been a precursor), and a personalized approach to online shopping," Eric Goguey, the company's CEO, tells Refinery29.
"Moreover, there has been, until now, a void in the e-commerce landscape for a Parisian take on fashion; with the mystique surrounding Parisian style continuing to fascinate, and Le Bon Marché’s quintessential Parisian positioning, it felt like a natural progression to adapt this experience for the digital space, and make it available to the global consumer."
This global consumer is, of course, one with a luxury-mindset: One who, as Gouey describes, "values quality above all; quality of the product, of course, but also of service, and of the experience overall. Luxury is in the detail, and so in order to bring a luxury service to online customers, everything we do has a personal touch: whether within the order itself, in the level of bespoke service provided, or the relevance of the product available, the attention to detail behind everything we do is something we know the customer expects, and is very emblematic of the craftsmanship and art de vivre which we stand behind."
To truly bring this personalized service to life, Gouey notes that the site will continue to increase its offering as the year progresses: For example, the inaugural capsule collection features 68 brands (both LVMH-owned and beyond); the fall/winter selection will include over 160. 24 Sèvres is also investing in exclusives created just for the site, like the Loewe x M/M Hammock bag, and an embellished sweatshirt by small Parisian label Maison Labiche, which features the title of Emile Zola's book, Au Bonheur Des Dames (a story actually about Le Bon Marché). To ensure the retailer's reach expands beyond just France, 24 Sèvres has launched with shipping to over 70 countries worldwide, with the aim to deliver that very specific (and highly coveted) Parisian aesthetic to those around the globe.
With such a global focus, it can be hard to identify what kind of shopper 24 Sèvres is aiming to attract. Yes, it's the quintessential French Girl and the Girl Who Wants To Be A French Girl, but its also a woman who understands quality, craftsmanship, and heritage.
"24 Sèvres is a mindset more than any one individual," Gouey says. "Above all, Parisian style stands for quality and effortlessness, the idea being that comfort is key, and beautifully crafted pieces are essential to our customers’ wardrobes, whether they are created by the world’s leading luxury brands or smaller, emerging labels. We like to think the woman who shops at 24 Sèvres is also serious, but doesn’t take herself too seriously. Our proposition will be attractive to the Parisian clientele who is already so familiar with and fond of Le Bon Marché, as well as the international shoppers who have either visited the store before, or with whom the Parisian aesthetic resonates particularly strongly. The intent is to bring the famed in-store experience to the world, whether that is within Paris itself, or abroad."