What Colette’s closure means for fashion

PARIS, France — On Wednesday morning, Colette, the cult retailer and temple of Parisian cool, announced it would close its doors in December, after 20 years in business. Saint Laurent is said to be in discussions to take over Colette’s iconic Rue Saint-Honoré location.

“As all good things must come to an end, after 20 wonderful years, Colette should be closing its doors on December 20 of this year,” the company said in a statement. “Colette Roussaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time; and Colette cannot exist without Colette.”

Founded in 1997 by Colette Roussaux — who later passed the baton to her daughter Sarah Andelman — Colette is one of the fashion world’s most iconic “concept stores” which became known for its daring high-low product mix, selling established luxury brands such as Chanel and Saint Laurent next to emerging designers like Sacai and Christopher Kane, as well as art books, magazines and technology gadgets. The retailer was particularly known for supporting Japanese designers and “street luxe” labels like Off-White, and was something of a pilgrimage site during Paris Fashion Week.

BoF spoke to a handful of industry insiders to gauge their reactions.

Tim Blanks, editor-at-large of The Business of Fashion

“For twenty years, Colette was my first stop in Paris. Always for books. I would look at everything else – I used to buy CDs too – but the books were always an education. Corso Como had a similarly strong point of view. They were actually quite complementary in their curiosity about things. Still, Colette always managed to have what you want before you knew it existed. What the hell will I do now?”

Jefferson Hack, co-founder and editorial director of Dazed Media

“It’s a total shock. It was the ultimate white cube — a brilliantly curated retail exhibition of the best collaborations in design, fashion and culture. It felt like a living magazine, you only had to step into it to know who and which brands and artists were shaping and influencing pop culture. No doubt Sarah will re-invent the future of fashion and culture in a new format — the doors of Colette may close but Sarah’s laser vision for what’s hot in culture will never fade.”

Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic of The New York Times

“For me, Colette was part of my fashion education. I started in this industry only a few years after it opened, and for me it wasn’t a shop; it was research centre, classroom, and textbook all in one. Every season I would stop back in for a refresher course. And it is entirely characteristic of Sarah and Colette’s approach to their subject that they have left us with one last lesson — one I think many fashion brands would do well to consider: write your own final chapter, and do it from a position of strength.”

Read more at Business of Fashion.