colette – The Death of a Concept Store


It’s the question on everyone’s lips – what will be ‘the trendiest store in the world’ once ‘concept boutique’ colette closes its doors for the last time in December after two decades of fashion dominance?

So why did a store that Guardian Columnist Hadley Freeman was impressed “lasted six months, let alone 20 years” suddenly decide to shut up shop? colette (and concept boutiques in general) is certainly a strange retail phenomenon in that many people enter the store, located in Paris’ luxury 1st arrondissement, but few actually buy products. Although profits seem to challenge that with Highs Nobiety reporting: “they did like $32 million euros last year [sic]”.

Luckily for fashion aficionados, The Guardian reported that ‘the brand may live on in some capacity online.’ The brand’s USP was its championing of collaborations with everyday high street brands at a time when fashion snobbery was at a peak. For many, colette represented an area free from the pretences fashion is often associated with. Instead, colette was always open to collaborations, whether it be with the highest of high-concept fashion or the mass produced. Each project was, however, uniquely colette.

A drop in tourist numbers to Paris also appears to have somewhat dented the brand’s profits, although the e-commerce branch of the company is growing. The brand’s official statement was, likewise, noncommittal in the details of why exactly the store will be closing: ‘Colette Roussaux [founder] has reached a time when she would like to take her time’. Simply, it remains a mystery. In a time when fashion collaborations across the board have become commonplace, perhaps colette’s impact is no longer quite as strong. The raison d’etre no longer exists.      

Do you think this is the slow winding down of one of fashion’s most iconic brands, or will colette re-emerge from the cocoon in a new form? Is e-commerce the best channel for a game-changing brand like colette?  

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