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01/25/2021

French Clothing Brands: The 2021 Guide

France is in a league of its own when it comes to fashion. Its tourism industry owes a lot to its luxury and high-end designers, but there are street-style maestros that don’t enjoy much recognition. Indeed, while the big players come to mind whenever French fashion is mentioned, there are many other, less recognized labels that you might want to check out if you want the complete Gallic couture experience. 

This article will walk you through the most famous French clothing brands and also show you some of the lesser-known fashion houses to shop from if you want to dress like a Parisian. 

The Best French Fashion Brands You Should Know 

From highly exclusive luxury labels to affordable fashion lines, we present the best French fashion brands that everyone should know.

Jacquemus 

Jacquemus is breaking through the glass ceiling with leading-edge designs that keep infusing fresh blood into mainstream fashion. Founder Simon Porte Jacquemus uses his brand to celebrate his native Southern French heritage and honor his late mother without looking back. His bold and audacious approach has seen him produce fine pieces that have caught the fancy of not only experimenters but also hipsters and fashion enthusiasts. 

Isabel Marant 

Isabel Marant’s eponymous label is one of the leading fashion houses in France. The designer has numerous awards to show for her success and skill. She fuses minimalist fashion with bohemian artistry to create surreal pieces that paint that nonchalant Parisian chicness in vibrant colors. 

The brand creates highly exclusive and luxurious clothing. In its early days, you would have to fly to Paris to grab any of Marant’s infamously scarce pieces. However, it has expanded to select locations worldwide, with an online store that caters to internet shoppers. 

When shopping from Isabel Marant, you can go for blouses, structured knitwear, draped minis, sheer tees, slim pants, and even sneakers. 

Pigalle 

Pigalle was founded in 2008 by Stephane Ashpool and named after Paris’ famous Pigalle district, which has grown from a highly seedy neighborhood to a hipster paradise. The brand focuses on stylish and high-quality streetwear inspired by the hip-hop and skating industries. It offers different collections, from sneakers and hoodies to tailored pants. 

The designer’s determination to represent his neighborhood has given birth to offbeat and provocatively luxurious designs. He has further used his brand’s influence and clout to call out France’s racial divides.  

Just about anything that Pigalle has to offer is top-notch. Its sweatshirts, jackets and sneakers are the best choice, if you want to look like a Parisian street star. 

Petit-Bateau 

Fashion isn’t exclusive to adults. It’s typical for every French family member, from infant to centenarian, to exude Gallic stylishness. This is why you’ll find brands that focus on specific age groups. One of those labels is Petit-Bateau, whose initial trade was making apparel for French kids. 

Petit-Bateau is nothing but iconic. It was founded as far back as 1893. Inspired by the famous French nursery rhyme ‘Maman les p’tits bateaux qui vont sur l’eau ont-ils des jambes?’, the brand has refused to let go of its defining vintage sailor style. With a serious dedication to comfort and quality, the label produces some of the best and most recognizable playwear for kids. 

The brand went transgenerational in the 2000s to allow other family members to enjoy its top-secret cotton.  

You can’t go wrong with any of Petit Bateau’s collections, from baby bodies to raincoats to pinafores to sweaters to jackets. 

Poyz & Pirlz 

Poys & Pirlz is the Parisian label you should go for if you want to partake in French street culture. The brand was created by the Triptik group’s Dabaaz in 2008 and hasn’t looked back ever since. The label’s story includes a series of milestones that saw it expand to different markets without losing its founding fashion philosophy. 

The brand has grown to become one of the big names in international streetwear and has mixed American influences with French chic. It releases new limited collections every three months, numbering as few as a hundred sometimes. 

Lacoste 

More than eight decades after the famous polo shirt revolutionized tennis uniforms, René Lacoste’s legacy still reigns supreme. Now under the oversight of Louise Trotter, the brand continues to expand its status as a worldwide powerhouse in the casual wear industry. With stores in 120 countries and two items sold every second on average, it’s nearly impossible to debate Lacoste’s adoption and acceptance. 

The label has something for men, women, and children, with its wide range of products, including fragrances, leather goods, eyewear, footwear, watches, home wear, and underwear. The iconic crocodile symbol is enough to make a fashion statement, but you also get to enjoy top-notch quality, premium materials, and comfort. 

From trainers, sneakers, and boots to tennis jumpers, polo shirts, duffle coats, and sweatshirts, you would be making the right decision going for products with the embroidered gator. 

Givenchy 

Hubert de Givenchy founded the label in 1952, bursting on to the scene with trailblazing collections that kept his brand name on the lips of couturiers and fashion enthusiasts at the time. While he started with youth-focused designs, he began to transition to mainstream fashion after a learning stint under the guidance of the legendary Cristóbal Balenciaga. 

Givenchy saw many good times even after LVMH acquired the brand in 1988. The notable decline began after Hubert decided to retire in 1995. But the label has since bounced back, thanks to successful spells under Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Riccardo Tisci. 

If you’re looking for the perfect blend of dignified elegance, relaxed stylishness, and femininity, this haute couture house is your destination. 

Not sure what to go for? The house’s redefined Antigona bag will surely make a timeless piece.  

Chloé 

French designer Gaby Aghion founded Chloé in 1952. The haute couture house was one of the first creators of ready-to-wear, maintaining incredibly high standards for quality and style. Every collection is a fine blend of luxurious materials and acute details. The label produces not only luxury apparel but also leading-edge footwear and peculiar fragrances. 

Claudie Pierlot 

Chic, carefree and sprightly, are the exact words that can describe Claudie Pierlot’s creations.  

The Parisian designer has been consistent in producing unique designs since her debut in 1984.  

Her works bring to life a certain bohemian flare and the authentic Parisian chic.  

The Claudie Pierlot brand is one of the best choices for fashionistas thanks to its durable leather jackets, charming knitwear, flirty dresses, and smartly-tailored coats. 

Balmain 

French designer Pierre Balmain brought the fashion house into existence in 1945. Ten years later, the couturier would be named one of the top three designers in the country alongside Jacques Fath and Christian Dior. His collections, especially those featuring the famous furs and intricately embroidered evening gowns, were the true embodiment of haute couture  and were widely admired. The brand suffered a period of decline that continued even after the death of the maestro. Other designers tried to bring the brand alive, but only Oscar de la Renta managed to make any headway. It was Christophe Decarnin who restored the name of Balmain and brought it back to its rightful position in Paris’ fashion front row. 

Presently, Balmain’s menswear department is inspired by the millennial style. This section packs leather motorcycle jackets, sharply tailored blazers, loungewear, biker jeans and cargo pants, and graphic knits. The designs for Balmain girls include tight clothes, short hemlines, and high heels. 

Kenzo 

Kenzo Takada, who just passed away in 2020, founded the brand in 1970. Although he was born in Japan, he set up shop in Paris. The label is known for unconventional and peculiar motifs, distinct modern aesthetics, bold patterns, and a fiery sense of freedom. 

Kenzo began with top-quality handmade women's wears before it expanded to footwear and clothing for men and kids. While the designer’s eastern roots and European influence are visible in the brand’s daring creations, they still possess that undeniable Parisian flair of effortless sophistication.  

The Kenzo clothing collection for women and men is packed with quirky printed sweaters, playful embroidered T-shirts, pants, and animal-printed jackets, among other styles. Unique styles, fun prints, and lively colors grace the kids’ line.  

The brand’s redefined streetwear collection is exceptional. Its accessories, such as the silk monogram scarves and iPhone cases, are worth having. 

IRO 

IRO was founded in 2005 by brothers Laurent and Arik Bitton, who took their music backgrounds and inspiration from fashionable women to create designs that encapsulate the Parisian chic and streetwear staples. The label’s collections include metallic dresses, sweaters, leather pants, tapered pants, high-rise jeans, jackets, denim shorts, and double-breasted blazers.

Chanel 

Talking about French fashion without mentioning brands like Chanel would always seem like an affront to fashion itself. So here we go. 

The fashion empire was established in 1910 when a young and vibrant Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel decided to liberate women from complicated and uncomfortable styles. After long spells under forgettable names following her death, the brand saw a revolution when Karl Lagerfeld took over, producing iconic wear that makes up the wardrobe of today’s fashionable women. 

From gold chains, the quilted bag, exquisite buttons, tweed jackets, and pearls to black bows, two-tone shoes, and the camellia motif, you can’t make the wrong decision with Chanel’s legendary collections. 

Amélie Pichard 

Amélie Pichard makes ambitious shoe designs that can be easily recognized anywhere in the world. The designer has had high-value collaborations over the years, one of which was with Pamela Anderson. 

The Candy Patent Leather Slingback Pumps and Western Boots are examples of the designer’s daring creations. 

Veja 

Veja is a French brand that deals in sustainable sneakers for men and women. The label has grown to be a darling in street culture, and it has high-caliber fans, such as Meghan Markle. 

Hermes 

Established nearly 200 years ago, Hermes is one of the most iconic French fashion brands and remains one of the few privately owned luxury houses. It’s a family business handed down through five generations without any hint that things will change. The generational changes have not watered down the brand’s quality and philosophy, as it continues to be ranked as the most valuable luxury label in respected fashion circles.  

Celine 

Celine is a Paris-based fashion label that was established in 1945. Founders Céline and Richard Vipiana started with a custom shoe outlet for children before taking on the fashion world in the 1960s, creating premium ready-to-wear. The brand focuses on designing sportswear that exudes luxe elegance without sacrificing form or quality. 

After an unflattering spell of losses, Michael Kors was brought in to restore the brand’s lost glory. However, it was Phoebe Philo who made the desired impact and shot Celine to the top of the ladder in French fashion. The label became a minimalist brand under Phoebe, exhibiting the kind of relaxed sophistication that is now the standard of French chicness. 

While Philo was reshaping Celine, another revolutionary designer Hedi Slimane was touching up Saint Laurent. It was no surprise that he would be tapped for the job after Philo left the label. 

You have Slimane to thank for the removal of the iconic accent in Celine. He oversaw the brand’s expansion to menswear and revival of the tweed blazers, knee-high boots, pleated skirts, and other styles known to make up the classic Celine uniform in the 1970s.

 

Louis Vuitton  

The full name is Louis Vuitton Malletier, but you can call it LV these days and still be on point anywhere in the world. The brand is one of France’s fashion monoliths. It was established in 1854 and has never left the forefront of creation and innovation. The house was merged with Moét Hennessy in 1987 to form the mammoth LVMH, which now controls 60 subsidiaries. 

With luxe handbags, shoes, clothes, and many other fashion accessories, Louis Vuitton caters to both men and women.

Dior 

Another prestigious brand whose absence would make the list incomplete. The house was established in 1946 by Christian Dior. The designer was on a mission to revolutionize the perception of fashion with his ‘New Look’ campaign. And he did just that in under a decade. To this day, the house of Dior continues to inspire with its classic simplicity and tamed sophistication. 

Sézane 

This Parisian brand is the first label to be born online. Founded by Morgane Sezalory in 2013, it found a way to cut out intermediaries and reach customers directly, producing tailored clothing at relatively affordable prices. 

Saint Laurent 

After being ousted from Christian Dior in 1961, Yves Saint Laurent started his couture line. He blew a fresh breeze into the fashion industry with his legendary ‘Rive Gauche’ collection in 1966. Notable creations by the designer include Le Smoking, the Mondrian dress, the Safari jacket, and the see-through dress. 

The designer plucked design ideas from different corners of the world and transformed them to create premium fashion collections. Years after his death, the brand still enjoys what made it special. 

Conclusion 

You don’t have to be French to look French. With these brands, you can effortlessly look like a Parisian native. One of our forwarders based in France can help.

 

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