Restoration Hardware to take over Abercrombie & Fitch boutique on Champs Elysées
Located at 23 Avenue de Champs Elysées, the boutique was launched to great fanfare in May 2011, as the brand invited a gang of topless male models to parade around the outside of the boutique, whose principal entrance is set in a box-hedge garden and courtyard off the famed shopping thoroughfare.
Designed to showcase the “All American” heritage of the Ivy League influenced brand, the store was initially a shopping and shopping and tourist destination. Sprayed inside with the brand’s Fierce scent and boasting an energetic DJ, the costly store – which sprawls over four floors – needed a construction permit from Paris' city hall before work could even begin.
Decidedly opulent, shoppers could enjoy the 1930s-style frescos of male deities in hunting scenes, athletic races and in boxing rings, as they were greeted by staff in colored jeans and chequered shirts. However, the store’s history was chequered too. A mysterious fire in November 2013 on its second floor destroyed most of the merchandise and furniture inside, requiring a major refit of the boutique.
After two French lockdowns, the space is currently open seven days a week before Christmas.
Like Abercrombie & Fitch, RH is an upscale brand and America’s leading high-end home-furnishings chain. Founded in 1979 in California by Stephen Gordon, after he found it difficult to find high-quality fittings and hardware for the restoration of a Victoria Home, Restoration Hardware has grown to become a massive retail player in the sector, with annual sales in excess of $2.6 billion.
During this year’s pandemic, RH has rightsized heavily, laying off 440 employees in April, and putting another 2,300 workers on temporary furlough. Under CEO Gary Friedman, RH had been developing more “gallery” stores, but shuttered several of these during the Covid lockdowns. However, despite these government mandated temporary closures when Covid first hit these units have reopened; and RH even added two new galleries during the pandemic including Marin, CA and Charlotte, NC.
Nonetheless, its first French store is expected to be a gallery style space, which often include rooftop restaurants and wine bars. In Manhattan, its former Flatiron district RH store was often the scene of chic dinners during New York Fashion Week. The same remains true of its newer store in the Meatpacking District which hosts opening parties during the New York runway season.
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