Buyers Select:
Alexandra Tistounet,
Cleo Gicquel and
Raphael Deray
Edition 102
Buyers Select is the series in which top buyers share their favorite proposals chosen from those of the brands of Pitti Immagine Uomo 102 and on Pitti Connect.

Founded in 1865 by husband and wife duo Jules and Augustine Jaluzot, Parisian department store Printemps is known for its continuous reinvention. The home of luxury stalwarts and emerging brands, the inspiring space is adept at evolving with the times. Last March, the department store unveiled a deep revival with a new identity, with refreshed concepts, spaces and services – bringing its customers a truly superior retail experience. 

We spoke to Printemps Buyers Alexandra Tistounet, Cleo Gicquel and Raphael Deray about the store and what makes it great.
So, how would you describe Printemps? 

Cleo Gicquel:
I remember when I was a child, it was a dream to go there. Everyone wanted to go to the Printemps. The world and the way we consume clothes are changing and the department stores also need to change. As a visionary store, anticipating major societal changes and technological innovations, Printemps has constantly reinvented itself over the years.

Alexandra Tistounet: Reinventing itself, which is its DNA. It was the first department store to focus on technological innovations, surprising exclusives, unexpected experiences and a commitment to ethical behaviour. Today, it aims to be an unmissable and memorable destination and thanks to the development of e-commerce and omnichannel – the launch of Printemps virtual store and NFTs alongside live shopping – it can be enjoyed wherever you are.
Do you feel like the profile of a buyer has evolved over the years? I know you come from a journalism background, Alexandra...

 It's absolutely woven. Nowadays in fashion, I feel like you can come from any background. Journalism helps us to navigate the world, politically and socially. And this is something that you find in fashion as well, because it is kind of an interpretation of the actual situation that surrounds us. So, it's pretty interesting to combine both. The journalist wants to have the reach and audience – it's the same for the buyer. We want to have a curated and specific selection and also send out a message. It's not only about selling a product, it's also about creating awareness about specific topics.
When you're buying is it just as important that there's storytelling behind the brands as well as them just looking good?

Raphael Deray:
Yes, absolutely. Like you need to have currency between the brand and the message you have behind it. So it's always something we look at. It has to be beautiful as a whole. 

Alexandra: It's also about authenticity. Like nowadays you can be a luxury brand, but stick to your values. Rather than pretending to be someone you're not or some trendy hype. 

Cleo: We need to be honest. 

Alexandra: Be honest with ourselves, be honest with our customers and be honest with the industry. The most important thing is authenticity.
How do you think the luxury designer consumer has changed over the last couple of years, have you seen the shift in that consumer and their needs? 

It's definitely a younger customer base. Now we have Gen Z or younger people saving money to buy good stuff and less fast fashion. So fewer pieces, but better ones. I think it's 20-somethings, they care about sustainability and where it's made. Communication is important as well. They like to get to know the brand. That's why Jacquemus is a very good success story because he managed to be friendly with his customers. So I think it's very important for brands to be open and connect with everyone. Also, people are looking for more genderless silhouettes.
Do you feel like retail and e-comm are slowly shifting into more genderless wear? Do you think brands have to catch up?

I think at a department store it's very difficult, but coming from the brand, they've made a big improvement on doing collections that are open to everyone. 

Cleo: But then there are brands where it's almost impossible to be genderless. If you think about all the established women's wear brands, how can you do genderless? It's more women buying menswear.

What kind of trends and styles are resonating with you most right now? 

Me, I would say colourful collections. But also, some retro ‘80s and ‘90s vibes. We see some brands improving, adding technology and stuff to the collection, but still having tiny touches from the ‘80s. If you go out to Paris, we see people wear things that were not so common two and a half years ago. Proposing something new, something very different and classic, which can be both cool and innovative. 

Alexandra: Well, we essentially take a new approach. I mean, really looking for newness, not just prints we've already seen. Craftsmanship is something super important to me. I'm really into brands that can interpret their heritage, alongside sustainability and genderless collections. I feel like what I am looking for is this connection between the past and the present.

A unicorn...

Not really. You can find it if you look carefully. There are some amazing brands, and most of them are still unknown. But with COVID, brands and especially the designers are being really specific about what they do. Pre-COVID it was 'let's do a brand, let's go for it. Let's do some streetwear.' Now, the trend is more, 'Okay, what do I do? What is my niche?'
Find a niche...

Yeah, find a niche: be specific, be authentic. Have a claim and tell your story. It's also super hard because, at the end, they are humans behind the brand who tell their stories and relate to their problems and emotions. So, it's totally a connection between emotion, craftsmanship and planning a product. Combining a nice aesthetic, image and branding. 

Raphael: We have a Wales Bonner for example. She got inspiration from Ghana in the ‘80s but made it in a way that is very relevant today as well. 

Cleo: Also, it's really cool that PITTI actually gives designers a chance to showcase their international heritage.
Which designer or brand were you super excited to come and see before you came to PITTI?

For me, Wales Bonner, But also Soulland. It's very innovative and creative. They have a touch of sustainability which is very good. 

Alexandra: Maxime Design. It's a London-based brand. It's kind of a representation of interior design but applied to garments, It's super nice, and very minimalistic.

Alexandra: And also Bennu. It's still more a concept than a brand. Everything is hand-crafted in Italy. Super nice. It's really about being local, but at the same time, having an approach that reflects the zeitgeist. It's genderless and fluid, but at the same time, it works with local artisans in Tuscany. Just super interesting. 

Cleo: There is this brand based in Italy called Cruna. It's tailoring with some technical fabric. There is also a French brand, De Bonne Facture. A contemporary, formal brand with very interesting shapes, kind of oversized. And for the first time at PITTI, I think this is amazing for them because the brand has existed for nearly 10 years.

Alexandra: And in terms of outdoor there is also Baracuta.
How does your consumer differ from other brand’s? 

: What we really work on is the in-store and online experience, trying to connect with our customers and give them a new brand experience. It’s about surprising our customers with the architecture, the vibe, the events, the services and the personalised relationship that we offer via exclusive brands and products. At Printemps, we propose very specific concepts with selections of exclusive brands in each category: designers at L’ENDROIT, creative labels at LA SELECTION 64, and outerwear at LA RESERVE – a kind of fashion guideline for each customer.

Also, our customers really appreciate that we have a huge portfolio they can easily browse from. At Printemps, it’s about scouting the new trend: for example, we opened a 1300 square metres floor dedicated to vintage, second hand and upcycling fashion: “LE 7ème CIEL”

Does your team curate the archives themselves? 

: For the second-hand and upcycling part, we curate that yes, and we do have a partnership with a vintage specialist in Paris for all our high-end designers. They come and set up a pop-up every month and it's super nice. There's a really nice vintage scene in France. It’s why we also launch an exclusive and 100 % Printemps buy-back service for purchasing accessories and clothes that are no longer worn by the customers.

It brings a new consumer that wouldn't usually go to the vintage store.

Alexandra: Exactly, our current customer who is not always familiar with second-hand and vintage but also customers who want to discover the best selections. We also do a vintage concept for kids. It's working so well because it's a unique concept under a heritage cupola – the biggest in the world in a department store. And, of course, we have an amazing view of Paris from the seventh floor of the building.

What makes the Printemps experience unique?

Cleo: Compared to the other department stores in Paris, we have very special architecture – it's one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. Printemps in French means 'spring', because its founder Jules Jaluzot wanted something that freshens every season. He used to say: “At Printemps, everything is fresh, new and nice like spring is”. This is the DNA of Printemps. Everything begins at Printemps: the launch of our new identity in march is a new step. Unique and interactive new concepts related to fashion, beauty, home and food that resonate with new consumer trends. 

Raphael: I feel like Printemps is one of the most tech-savvy and fashion-forward department stores in France. We have most well-known designers and luxury brands, alongside emerging designers and exclusive concepts. Printemps is also the place to be for an omnichannel experience and retailtainment: The launch of our 'Live Shopping' service last year, the virtual shop, NFTs and our first “Festival de Printemps” are key examples of what makes Printemps a unique shopping destination.
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