Home News Arket Opens Paris Flagship in the Marais – WWD

Arket Opens Paris Flagship in the Marais – WWD


PARIS — Following a flurry of flagship openings this fall, Arket is adding to the Paris shopping scene with a new space in the Marais.

Arket managing director Pernilla Wohlfahrt had been eyeing Paris for a while, but the pandemic slowed expansion and the group wanted to wait to find the right space. That ended up being at 13 Rue des Archives, the former Zadig & Voltaire store that most recently — and unusually for the district better known for its youthful shoppers — hosted the exhibition of “Big John,” the largest triceratops dinosaur discovered to date.

Now it’s all Scandi-chic, with clean lines and bright open spaces, inside the two-story Arket outpost.

It marks the brand’s first physical location in France, and opens just days after a new door in Guangzhou, China, on Oct. 28. Helsinki, Finland and Shanghai, China, are both slated before the end of 2022.

At 4,300 square feet, the Paris store has a smaller footprint than other Arket flagships, whose spaces usually top the 7,500-square-foot mark. Being within smaller walls in the cozy neighborhood is “inspiring,” Wohlfahrt said, and the size will allow for a more curated collection and new omnichannel experiments.

Expanded colorways, for example, can be ordered on a shopper’s phone from inside the store for home delivery. That leaves plenty of room for Arket to develop its lifestyle space, with an expanded café that welcomes local workers to open their computers alongside their coffee.

“Having this café is part of the modern store experience. We want to create this place where you want to spend a bit more time. We believe that is the future store experience that customers want,” she said.

Seasonal vegetarian food from chef Martin Berg will be sourced from local markets. It will embody the pan-European spirit, with traditional Danish poppy seed rolls filled with local cheeses, for example. There’s a cookbook, too, which will be stacked on shelves and, in a brand first, the café will serve wine — French, of course.

Arket chef Martin Berg tebirkes sandwiches

Danish tebirkes will feature French cheeses as part of a locally sourced menu.

It all leads into the Arket ethos of positioning themselves as the sustainable little sister of fast-fashion originator H&M.

Arket operates with a Scandinavian, minimalistic style. “It’s timeless essentials,” said Wohlfahrt. “That sounds like a nice word for basics, which is what it is.” Elevated turtlenecks, trousers and puffer jackets are on the racks and offered up across age range.

They’re now using 94 percent “more sustainable” materials. Of that, 60 percent is recycled, including cashmere and down, Wohlfahrt said. She added they intend their products to have a longer shelf life than just one stylish season.

“It comes with the timelessness of the fashion level that a lot of people can understand, and the price is a little bit higher,” she said. “The price level is because the quality is higher and the sustainability also, unfortunately, comes with higher prices. The price allows the quality and the sustainability level more than positioning.”

They’re experimenting with “more sustainable business models,” including a pilot program for rental in children’s wear, which is set to launch later this month in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“If it goes well we would like to expand that program, but it’s a test and we hope it is going to be part of other stores [in the future] as well,” she said.

They’ve also dabbled in online resale, again of children’s clothing and through third-party platform Circos. The program has been successful though smaller than hoped, in part due to the pandemic, said Wohlfahrt. However, she also hopes it can “be part of our business model in the future.”

Things have not gone exactly as planned for Wohlfahrt, who took the reins of the subsidiary just days before worldwide store closures in March 2020. It upended Arket’s expansion plans and resulted in a quick turn to digital development. That resulted in the young brand moving quickly to a 50-50 digital to physical retail mix, where it rests today, Wohlfahrt said.

“We get a lot of support from the group, so we’ve been supported throughout. … even though it was a challenge, I’m quite happy that we were smaller so it’s quicker for us to change as well, with the new demands from the customer,” she said.

“The pandemic actually pushed the digital growth, and that has been the focus of the group – to grow digitally,” she said of the last two years. “Now it’s time to amplify the physical.”

Arket landed in the trendy Marais. There’s a Cos and a Weekday nearby, but the brand is staking out a different consumer than its group mates including H&M, Monki, and & Other Stories, which also have multiple outposts throughout the city. “We believe that we created the brands to complement each other rather than compete,” she said of positioning within the larger group.

With 30 Arket stores planned by the end of the year, even more growth is on the horizon. “We believe in more stores than that, absolutely,” she said, demurring on a target number of openings for 2023 but making it clear that new territories are marked on the map.

“I think we could be most places around the globe, also looking at, because we’re part of the group, we can expand,” she said. “We can select the markets we want to be in, open when we find the right location, which is very good for us.”

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