Paris Street Style

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Paris and fashion isn’t all about couture and catwalks. On the streets of the Pigalle a far more youthful, diverse look dominates.

Think of a Parisian and what do you see? For a city that is the birthplace of such disparate brands as Dior and Vetements, Paris fashion is hard to pin down. And yet, billowing button-downs and impossibly skinny jeans embody “French girl style” – a look in and of itself. But how many Parisians actually conform to that Saint Laurent image of cool? Whatever it is you picture the locals wearing, a visit to the Pigalle neighbourhood is likely to skew that vision. An international influence has sunk its claws into this small pocket of Paris, just south of Montmartre, and it’s re-shaping the city’s sartorial stereotypes from the inside out.

“Whatever people gravitate towards it’s always a story,” says Yanique, a resident of the French capital for the last 10 years who has lived in almost as many neighbourhoods. The story of Pigalle is all sex and drugs and cold brew coffee, in that order. Formally the red light district of Paris, this quarter is fast becoming the city’s go-to place for underground fashion, and all the lifestyle extras that come with it (namely craft cocktails and avocado toast): it’s even been re-branded SoPi, short for South Pigalle. When talking about the social changes of the area, it’s impossible to overlook the influence of Japanese streetwear inspired brand Pigalle.

“I’m not trying to copy anyone and I’m not trying to look like anyone either.” - Yanique

Founded nine years ago by local resident Stéphane Ashpool, the area has been woven into the fabric of the brand from day one. “It was a really shabby neighbourhood,” Benjamin, the store manager of the Pigalle shop on Rue Henry Monnier, told us. “The brand is totally influenced by the street: this is why we don’t sell online; we are just here in Pigalle [the place] so people have to come.” Perhaps, then, the changing face of the neighbourhood and its emerging fashion scene can be attributed to the fact that anyone who is interested in Pigalle’s high-fashion-meets-street-wear designs simply has to come and visit?

“We [Pigalle] are not really looking at French fashion, we are just trying to do our thing and it seems to be working.” - Benjamin

 It’s not just a clothing store, either: Pigalle co-runs a basketball court with Nike that is tucked in between two towering apartment buildings right in the heart of the area. Not only is it a hotspot for bloggers to come and get unexpected, alternative Parisian lifestyle shots, but it attracts local kids to come and shoot some hoops, too. They’ve even formed a neighbourhood  basketball team and competed in tournaments all over the world. “That's why Pigalle is so different from any other brand: there is the culture, there is a story, there is a connection,” says Ahmed, who works at the new off-shoot store, Pigalle Basketball, that faces the court and sells sportier items from the collection – including a recent nine-piece collab with NikeLab.
 

“Stéphane Ashpool likes a challenge. He challenges himself and he's challenging the whole industry.” - Ahmed

A handful of other home-grown brands make up the movement that is redefining “the Parisian” by embracing the city’s diverse culture, which is often overlooked by mainstream fashion houses. Isakin’s sweaters read “Barbès speaks Arabic” – a reference to the large Arabic population down the street from Pigalle. Further east, Atelier Beaurepaire designs contemporary, unisex bomber jackets, dungarees and trousers in vibrant African wax cottons, and t-shirts are printed with the name of the neighbourhood: “Canal Saint Martin.” These stores are not in SoPi, but they are within walking distance. It’s difficult to pinpoint just when  these brands – that simultaneously celebrate their Parisian identity  and their international inspirations – began challenging the strict style codes of the city. What’s certain, though, is that this is not the end of the story of a city in stylistic evolution.
 

“For people that live in, let's say, 'the hood,' it's normal you wear urban clothes and you don't consider urban to be high fashion, but now that course has changed so it's kind of cool to mix high fashion with urban style, and with the hood. So people from the hood can connect to fashion and can really relate to it.” - Amin

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