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May 14, 2012
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Levi’s opens on the Champs Elysées, Paris

May 14, 2012

It had been the American brand’s dream for so long. And now it’s become reality: Levi’s opened last week its flagship store on the Champs Elysées in Paris. Certain compromises have had to be made, though. Accepting, for example, that the ground floor be little more than an entrance hall as the majority of the 7000 square feet of retail surface is on the lower ground floor. The result is that the store has little street-frontage, but on the other hand an internal structure that shows off all three floors. With, notably, a grand staircase leading to the famous lower ground floor.

The store has an American feel about it, above all thanks to the 30 foot high image of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, which recalls the brand’s roots. It’s anticipated that the image will be changed regularly.

A vintage and industrial style, in keeping with its denim apparel, reigns in the store which was designed by French architects REV Architecture. Almost all of Levi’s ranges are available in the store, from the core collections to footwear and Levi’s Made & Crafted which has its own area.

The store’s narrow façade on the Champs Elysées

Levi’s wanted to add a cultural facet to the opening, although regular events will ensure this continues, with the theme of Franco-American relations. “With the arrival of the Levi’s store on the Champs Elysées, we’re celebrating the links that bind the USA and France and the cultural movements that this relationship has inspired”, explained the brand.

The retail surface is to be found mainly on the lower ground floor

For its launch, Levi’s focused on the roots of denim fabric itself developed originally in the city of Nîmes in the south of France ("de Nîmes" meaning “from Nîmes” in French) and its role in American history. The concept is interesting even if a little tenuous. “This new flagship is the ideal space for events to exhibit collaborations”, explained Stefan Otte, the new Managing Director of Levi Strauss France, which also covers Scandinavia and Benelux. “Our collaboration with the artists James Murphy and Pedro Winter will be presented here. It’s more than a store for us; it’s a life-space”.

This first collaboration between the front man of the group LCD Soundsystem and DFA Records (New York) and the former Daft Punk producer, better known under the name Busy P, from Ed Banger Records (Paris) goes far beyond a simple electro set for the opening.

Titled “Vive les Friends”, it’s incarnated also in two large sculptural installations created by the two artists in collaboration with Levi’s. James Murphy has brought together a mass of speakers, “a nod to the installation called Death from Above that he created at the beginning of his career as a sound technician”, said Levi’s, whilst a series of screens display 8mm portraits of the DFA Records “family”. Pedro Winter’s installation is a structure in the shape of a skateboard ramp made out of skateboards (he was a skater!). Music is provided by a studio on the mezzanine, where you can listen to a selection of 25 albums chosen by the two artists.

A small collection of t-shirts and jackets is the fruit of a collaboration with artists

Another result of the partnership, along with the help of other artists such as the Parisian tattoo studio Bleu Noir or Artistic Director of Ed Banger Records, So Me, is a small and limited edition of t-shirts and jackets which are also for sale. The next collaboration, next month, will bring together street artists André and Shepard Fairey.

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