There’s nothing like shopping in Paris, especially if you’re there during peak tourist season – which also conveniently coincides with the biannual sales taking over the city for most of July. The beginning of the month kicks off with a bang during couture week, with stores ranging from Galeries Lafayette to Zara slashing prices up to 50 percent and even beyond.
Taking all of that into account, the usual shopping suspects are typically packed during the summer. Here, we’ve put together a list of some of the best off-the-beaten-path stores and hidden gems in Paris for your ultimate shopping spree.
Thanx God I’m a V.I.P.
In the tenth arrondissement of Paris is Thanx God I’m a V.I.P., a secondhand boutique chock-full of covetable designer clothing, accessories and shoes. It’s been open since 1994 and is just a five-minute walk from Place de la République, but it still falls slightly under-the-radar – and that’s good for you. Here, you’ll find everything from Yves Saint Laurent blazers from the 1980s (they truly don’t make them like that anymore), Céline trousers, Chanel outwear and the occasional Vivienne Westwood dress or corset. The color-coded racks make shopping easy, but if you’re looking for something really specific, the boutique’s website uploads new finds every week, so you can get a preview before stepping foot in the store.
The Broken Arm
With a café that serves breakfast, lunch and some very good coffee, Broken Arm falls under the category of hybrid fashion boutique and restaurant. It’s also a great place to find a new favorite indie magazine or art, fashion and design tomes. Three friends – Anaïs Lafarge, Romain Joste and Guillaume Steinmetz – opened the shop on a quiet street in the third arrondissement in 2013, and if it weren’t for the cool kids who can often be found hanging outside, you might walk right past it. The Broken Arm stocks both women’s and men’s high-end labels (Comme des Garçons, Prada, Calvin Klein 205W39NYC, Balenciaga, etc.) and cult-worthy indie brands such as Martine Rose and Dust.
In the heart of the Marais, this space is designed by the Belgian artist Arne Quinze to be more than meets the eye. Wooden planks and over 10 video screens line the walls – some of which move to reveal different assortments of clothing. Leclaireur Sévigné stocks an impressive collection of niche perfumes alongside pieces from avant garde labels like Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons and Maison Margiela.
If you’re one of those people who packs for any trip with a half-empty suitcase in anticipation of what you might purchase there, Kilo Shop is for you. With multiple locations in Paris, Kilo Shop is full of vintage finds, ranging from perfectly worn-in jeans from the ’80s to dreamy band tees. Pieces are categorized by colors, which correspond with prices. At the end, you pay by the total weight of the product, meaning you’ll probably walk out with a big bag of Parisian vintage treasures.
Just a few blocks down from the swanky Le Meurice hotel and across from the Tuileries Garden is Angelic Pretty. While it’s certainly one of the most niche fashion options in Paris (it specializes in high-end Lolita fashion), it’s worth a visit simply for the décor and for browsing. The pastel pink paradise sells crinoline dresses, silky tops with pearls and bows, adorably embellished berets and bags shaped like cherries, hearts and bunnies. If it sounds kitschy, think again: Prices for most of the dresses, which are impeccably made in Japan, begin at over $300. Local fans call ahead to buy new, themed collection drops (which are frequent) from the legendary Japanese brand. This is also the only Angelic Pretty boutique in all of Europe.
Olwen Forest at Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
While it’s definitely off the beaten track, it’s worth taking a half-day (or more) excursion to the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. The expansive outdoor flea market sells everything from vinyl records to furniture, including antique and Victorian clothing and odd trinkets. But the best reason to make the half hour journey to the outskirts of Paris from the center of the city is Olwen Forest’s jewelry shop tucked away in the Serpette section of the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (look for the giant sign on the side of a large building). Inside a covered section of the market is a treasure trove of designer jewelry, which Forest has collected over the years from friends and former couture runway models. You can find unusual, unbranded pieces for a few hundred dollars as well as one-of-a-kind Schiaparelli and Chanel jewels from eras past.
Recently opened in Paris, Nous is a concept shop with a focus on menswear, tech, music and lifestyle. As cool as the product selection is, Nous brings a sort of buzz to the Paris fashion scene and store, which has been missing since Colette closed in 2017, with events, DJs and guest appearances. It’s no wonder why: Sébastien Chapelle, head of the watches and tech department at Colette for 14 years, opened Nous with Marvin Dein, former head of the sneakers department at Colette. “We created this project because we realized it was the only way to carry on working in such an inspiring environment,” Chapelle told Fashionista earlier this year.
Spree is another designer concept store in Paris, located in Montmartre. The founders, Roberta Oprandi (fashion designer) and Bruno Hadjadj (visual artist and production designer) collaborated to bring their vision together in the store and, across the street from Spree, in an art gallery opened in 2009. The shop is a particularly good place to stop by during sale season in Paris (January and July) for great accessories and shoes from labels including Isabel Marant and Golden Goose, and clothing from MSGM and Helmut Lang.
Maybe you’re looking to purchase your dream dress in Paris – or perhaps, last minute, you need the right outfit for a formal event in one of the most fashionable cities in the world. If so, Les Suites is a great option. The boutique describes itself as, “Haute aesthetics. Haute experience. Haute shopping. Haute ready-to-wear,” and boasts an impressive product selection of very high-end labels that are often hard to find, ranging from Delpozo to Manish Arora. Often times, Les Suites has exclusives from these brands that you can’t find anywhere else. Les Suites is appropriately located in central Paris, right around the corner from the Four Seasons Hotel George V.
Stepping into Merci in Paris is quite the experience. With racks of clothing, home goods, specialty paper, handbags and more scattered throughout the shop in unconventional places, it’s hard not to get lost just browsing the boutique for hours. Merci is an unexpected pick for shopping because its sheer size makes it feel similar to a small department store, but you’re more than likely to walk away with a quirky find (whether it be a notebook or a blouse) from one of the shop’s indie labels you’ve probably never heard of before.
If you’re even slightly obsessed with beauty products, or French pharmacy products, CityPharma is a must-visit. The classic French pharmacy stocks all of the cult essentials (Bioderma, Caudalie, Nuxe, Phyto, etc.) at a fraction of the cost at which they’re usually sold in normal pharmacies in France or in the states. Because of this, navigating the store, which is always extremely busy, can be intense. But it’s definitely worth it – this pharmacy has one of the biggest selections and you can almost always find something you never knew you needed.
L’Habilleur is a designer discount shop that specializes in indie brands ranging from Roberto Collina to Henrik Vibskov. If you’re lucky, and if you spend enough time looking through the racks, you might just find a rare Issey Miyake blouse, or an amazing archival Jean Paul Gaultier dress at up to 60 percent off its original price. It’s also located in the Marais, which means there are plenty of places to walk around and explore after shopping.
The French-girl-style shop with a cult following is one of the most unique boutiques in all of Paris. Browse the limited edition collections of striped tees, breezy dresses and chic handbags and after, grab a coffee or croissant at the built-in café. Downstairs, there’s even a mini movie theater. The space is bright and airy, and on weekends, lines of customers wrap around the block. Once inside, you’ll probably be tempted to Instagram the space, too.
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