Shop Talk: Paris' New Shoe Mecca

Galeries Lafayette opens huge shoe department.

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The Marquee de Lafayette
Galeries Lafayette’s new footwear department, which the retailer claims is the world’s largest dedicated shoe space, opened for business last Wednesday in the Parisian department store’s basement floor.

The 34,500-sq.-ft. space is almost double the size of the previous shoe department and is also one-third larger than the shoe departments at Harrods and Saks. It’s no coincidence this shoe-addict mecca has opened here. According to Galeries Lafayette, French women are Europe’s largest consumers of shoes, buying on average six pairs a year. They also are footwear collectors, with 17 percent admitting to owning more than 20 pairs of shoes.

“Shoes have become the No. 1 desire, ahead of sunglasses and bags,” said Galeries Lafayette’s managing director, Paul Delaoutre, pointing out that 75 percent of French women are not concerned about the price tag on a pair of must-haves.

Catering also to the requirements of the numerous tourists, notably from China and Russia, footwear sizes range from 34 to 43 (U.S. 3 to 12), while prices start at around 99 euros, or $138 , and retail as high as 1,300 euros, or $1,816, for designer brands. The store will stock sandals and winter boots year-round, said the retailer, for French shoppers preparing for vacations as well as for tourists visiting during various seasons.

Once the entire floor is merchandised for the fall season beginning at the end of August, it will carry 150 brands, 75 of which will be exclusive to Galeries Lafayette.

“This is what makes the difference for a department store,” said Michel Roulleau, deputy managing director at Galeries Lafayette.

With the official inauguration in September, additional services such as pedicure treatments and an artisan cobbler will become available, as well as a personal shopping service. — Elena Berton


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