Rachel Comey tests international retail waters with premiere pop-up in Paris
New York City-based womenswear designer Rachel Comey has brought her eponymous brand to Paris for its first ever pop-up shop, testing the waters for possible future permanent stores abroad.
Located within Le Marais district in the city's 4th arrondissement, the two-floor store carries pieces from the brand's Spring/Summer 2020 collection, as well as a selection of some of the brand's most popular items, including denim and clogs.
In an interview with FashionNetwork.com, Comey described the pop-up as "an introduction" to the city's shoppers, as well as a testing ground for a possible future permanent store overseas.
"I don’t know if [a future permanent store] will be in Paris or not, I might give it a few pop-ups," said Comey, whose designs attract the likes of Blondie front woman Debbie Harry; American artist Cindy Sherman; and actress Molly Ringwald.
"We’re talking right now about doing some pop-in shops in Europe later this year. That would be another toe-dip, I guess you could say. Testing these waters is definitely something new for us, given our strong history stateside. I feel like the timing is really nice to try to branch out internationally."
The Rachel Comey brand, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, is currently available inside a handful of multi-brand retailers throughout Europe, including touch-points in London, as well as a few small multi-brand retailers in Paris.
Comey describes her brand's European sales as relatively small. However, like any good introduction, the brand tends to do some of its best work in-person, as it did when the premiere Rachel Comey store opened in New York City in 2014 -- a moment that Comey described as “where we connected directly with our customers for the first time.”
"For the people who are coming [to the Paris pop-up] that already know us, that relationship already exists," Comey said. "But for new customers, I think its going to have to be a discovery point, a situation where they ask, ‘okay, what in here is for me? What’s different?’ There are a ton of great brands out of Paris, that’s probably why I never thought to do this before -- but as we’ve grown over the years, I feel we’re doing something different and we want to be able to share that with a broader audience."
"We knew we wanted to be in The Marais neighborhood because of the way it matches our sensibility in New York; lots of owner-operated shops and cafes and bookstores, which suit the lifestyle of our customers," Comey added.
"That sense of discovery that you’re looking for when you’re walking through the streets in that neighborhood in particular."
Apart from the Paris pop-up, Comey has also been spending more time in Europe, thanks to her recent dive into made-in-Italy footwear. Previously, Comey has produced her brand's footwear in Peru and Portugal, but through her new Italian partnerships, Comey said her footwear is "taking off in a new direction."
"We have a bunch of new silhouettes from [Italy] that are in the pop-up," Comey said. "In our footwear, we've established features that are fit for the New York lifestyle; for running around up and down the subway. For example, I’ve always loved clogs because of the combination of height and comfort level; they’re very functional. We’re taking some of those core functionalities and doing them in a refined way with the factories in Italy. In a way, they’re more dressy, but still going after the functionality that appeals to me and to what I know of our customer. She’s got a lot of different roles to play in her life, so I think versatility and function are so important."
Along with prioritizing the practical, Rachel Comey has also developed a reputation as a label for women of all ages, who ooze a quiet sophistication, artistic edge and coolness -- a quick swipe of the brand's recent Instagram feed shows photos of older models, including a half-lidded, unsmiling Birgitt Doss, and vintage photos of 'Swiss Rebels' from Swiss photographer, Karlheinz Weinberger.
At the Paris pop-up, that DNA of confidence and creativity is represented by an in-store installation by Berlin-based artist Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, as well as a zine with essays by British novelist and critic, Zadie Smith, and Canadian novelist, Sheila Heti.
Opened on February 22, shoppers can visit the Rachel Comey Paris pop-up at 123 Rue de Turenne through March 18.
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