Paris boasts the best of many things: Croissants, baguettes, cheese, macarons, perfect hair, style. What it also trumps the US of A with, and in particular New York, is the concept store. There is Colette, quite possibly the most famous of them all, packed with high-end designer clothes and accessories, beauty, books, magazines and its own café. There is Merci, a more relaxed version of Colette that again includes a café and a floor devoted to interiors. And there is also The Broken Arm.
Located on a quiet street opposite a beautiful park in the Marais, The Broken Arm opened its doors in 2013. It offers thoughtful and extremely well-curated clothes, and exquisite details that ensure you have an experience, not just a shopping trip (which essentially, sums up the whole store's ethos).
For the three founders, Guillaume Steinmetz, Anaïs Lafarge, and Romain Joste (who were all young assistants working in creative industries), the journey to create an intimate space where their fashion dreams could become reality began with an online magazine.
"We worked on the magazine for three years, but online it’s easy to create something," says Steinmetz. "We wanted a physical space where you could come and experience fashion and the other elements that are part of a creative lifestyle."
The result is a calm space chosen for its close location to the Marais. It has a cozy neighborhood atmosphere, which aims to reflect the emotion fashion -- rather than consumerism -- can offer.
"Each designer was carefully chosen by all three of us to reflect the codes of the store," explains Steinmetz. "We wanted to showcase designers that have a strong vision and impeccably designed clothes, but then also include new and upcoming designers that we want to support.”
With only 40 or so labels stocked in-store, established designers such as Raf Simons, Carven, Marni, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Christophe Lemaire, and Kenzo sit amongst lesser known -- but equally as impressive -- labels like Jacquemus, Etudes and accessories designer Isaac Reina, all geared towards a style-savvy consumer who appreciates fashion for its craftsmanship and longer-lasting appeal.
The store also boasts a café that is stocked with its own blend of coffee and granola, and is a favorite amongst those in the fashion industry.
“We think of ourselves as a local store, but with an international presence,” explains Steinmetz. “Some people just come in for a coffee, and then other people stop by because they’ve heard about the store from a friend, or love Jacquemus. Each of us is here all the time, interacting with customers, changing the windows. We don’t push ourselves through marketing or anything like that. Just like when you find a great dress, we like the store to be a great discovery. We love to discover new things organically, be it through a friend or through something we read. We take a long time to decide on which designer to introduce to the store and the customer, and they have to be the right fit.”
There is even a Broken Arm fragrance, which was created from the scents of the materials that were used to create the store. (It smells like the interior of a gorgeous wooden house perched in a forest.) Steinmetz envisions one day creating an album specific to the space, which would include "tracks that reflect the store but aren’t just trendy right now.”
Stop by for a coffee, and you'll find yourself there for hours.
The Broken Arm at 12 rue Perrée, Paris.