Article published in Cntraveler.com
NOVEMBER 21, 2016 by Sara Lieberman
There's Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent. There's Maje, Sandro, and Claudie Pierlot. But most Parisians—whose effortless style legions of women covet—fill their wardrobe with the likes of wide-leg pants and flirty blouses from local indie brands such as FRNCH and Lenny B.
Never heard of such labels? That's because they were—until recently—unattainable to anyone without a passport, a plane ticket, and an insider’s guide to Paris boutiques. But thanks to Apparis.com, founded by two industry vets with more than a decade of experience working in luxury fashion, there’s now an online shopping destination that offers looks straight from the cobblestoned streets of Paris.
Launched this spring by Amelie Safer, a French New Yorker who was previously a financial analyst for Hermès, Chanel, and then Louis Vuitton, and Lauren Nouchi; a French Parisian and former merchandiser for Saint Laurent, the idea grew out of a mutual desire to look chic in high-quality clothing—without having to max out their Mastercards.
“Both Lauren and I worked with luxury brands, and as much as we loved the beautiful design and quality of the products, we both had the same comment, which was, 'Why do they need to be so exclusive? Why are they only reserved for the elite?'” says Safer, 33.
Nouchi, 25, whose purse is a bottomless pit of nude lipsticks from YSL, comes from the world of retail. Her parents have been running six stores in the south of France for 35 years, which is how she and Safer discovered the smaller brands—of which there are hundreds—that are superb in both style and execution.
“In France, it’s a cultural thing to shop at your local, multi-brand boutique,” says Safer. “It’s where you go for the pleated skirt that everyone wants this season—but for $100, not $1,000.”
Yet until Apparis came along, such labels were uniquely designed for, made in, and sold at French boutiques, far out of reach of U.S. shoppers (many don’t have the distribution network outside the country). The site markets itself as a virtual Parisian shop for sartorial-savvy women who happen to live outside the 20 arrondissements, with a target demographic of cosmopolitan women aged 24-40. Prices range between $48 to $199, and items channel the vibe of your favorite French woman: think Garance Doré, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Lou Doillon, daughter of Jane Birkin.
The key to French dressing, says Safer, is not just acquiring basic wardrobe pieces—a classic Chanel bag, a trench coat, a cashmere turtleneck and, the most prized of all, a good white T-shirt—but “the ability to wear these pieces day and night, summer or winter, with other more playful pieces that you would buy in a boutique.”
As a result, the site is light on accessories and heavier on clothing trends, from a range of eight-ten brands. Safer and Nouchi also just debuted their first capsule collection on the site, and at New York City’s new fashion co-op, Flying Solo, where they have a booth.
“Our spirit is to play with fashion,” says Safer. “We want to keep it fun and unpretentious with a priority on quality and design. In the U.S., there’s often a tradeoff between quality, style, and price; and [the idea] that you can’t have it all. But we’re saying you can.”
Les girls from APPARiS