Sunday, 8 November 2009

Uniqlo, Paris. Or how hype can sometimes hide a pleasant surprise.

The area around Opéra has always been a shopping hub because of the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps stores, plus the fact that one of the major RER lines stops there, bringing in hoards of eager shoppers form the suburbs. In recent years though it has been the focus of even more retail expansion. After the Printemps de l'Homme reboot, the huge Citadium fashion/sports megaplex, and Paris' second Apple Store due to open in the area next year, there's a new big player in town: Uniqlo has just opened a huge flagship store there.

I must admit to not knowing much about Uniqlo apart from the fact that it has been called "the Japanese H&M", and frankly that didn't really make me want to learn more. The opening of the store on 1st October 2009 was a roadblock, with between 200 and 300 people queueing up daily over the first seven days to get in (how mad is that?), drawn by the lure of special opening offer and a suave advertising campaign feature French hipsters such as Mathieu Kassovitz (hasn't made a good film since La Haine in 1995), Sébastien Tellier (isn't half as cool as he thinks he is), Emmanuelle Seignier (possibly not loving being married to Roman Polanksi at the moment) and Hafsia Herzi (excellent 23 year-old actress you should look out for).

A month after opening, this have calmed down at Uniqlo. Slightly. Saturday afternoons there must be 'brisk' to say the least. It is, after all their only big store in the whole of mainland Europe. Usually we'd run a mile from this sort of place, but for once we braved the crowds and found the store to be bright, the staff cheery, and the clothes surprisingly good 'n' cheap!

There's a huge jeans section that's a lot less expensive than Levi's and has plenty of choice...

..and even the menswear wasn't half bad (makes a nice change)...

Plus, the store itself - it has to be said - is rather swish...

I managed to find myself a lovely hat to keep me warm this winter. The following photo is a testament to my joy (brace yourselves):

The store may not be right next to the Great Apartment, but it's not that far either. If you're nearby to see the big department stores, perhaps you should pop in and have a look?

Uniqlo is at 17 rue Scribe, just behind Opéra (here) and open every day except Sundays from 10am - 8pm (9pm Thursdays).

Feeling bored?
Let Uniqlo entertain your desktop with some cool silliness here! Or with some cool tilt-shift weather-related usefulness (as seen below) here!

STILL bored? Here's a little film of the latest art installation in the Uniqlo windows by Mona Kim. Similar installations are in place in the London and New York flagship stores until 15th November (via Le Journal des Vitrines).

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