It's no secret that the French are known for being chic, even if they're just heading to the supermarket. They like to invest in classic timeless pieces from Chanel or YSL that will last forever, but the true secret to French style doesn't lie in the luxury brands. When it comes to fun pieces, contemporary basics or the everyday wardrobe, it's items by the French middle-market brands that end up on everyone's must-have list.
Though not as daring or eccentric as some of the British retail labels and not overtly hip like some American counterparts, anyone too scared to try a current season's hottest trend will quickly realize that the French high street will adapt these looks into very wearable and casual (but not boring) pieces. Sandro is no exception. Their vibe is not as rock 'n' roll as Zadig & Voltaire or as bohemian as Maje, but this fairly young company, founded 4 years ago by Evelyne Chétrite, when she opened the first store in rue Vieille du Temple, has a wide range of clothing and accessories that would make any style maven happy.
These days, there are over 60 boutiques around France, with a few more in select other countries. The original store in the Marais now has a second neighboring Sandro shop, though when I went, both seemed to have a very similar selection. The store design is very simple but modern, with wooden tables displaying shoes or tank tops and an open closet containing more goodies, giving you the impression you just wandered into someone's private room. All other clothing is suspended from solid racks running along the walls of the store.
I would also like to give Sandro props for being more creative with an in-store mannequin, which seemed to be doing a handstand in the middle of the shop area (though I wouldn't say it was appropriately dressed for that).
Looking at the current season's collection it quickly became clear that Sandro has embraced the 80's. I found a lot of denim, including shorts, jackets and pants in every style ranging from boyfriend to skinny. I spied a few oversized blazers, some leopard print tops and scarves in the same print which according to a staff member's kind explanation can also be used as a bandanna. Basically if Poison was playing a concert tomorrow, I would know where to get a tour outfit. And if it's too warm to wear a jacket, fear not, because Sandro also offers a nice selection of vests which can be worn over dresses or t-shirts.
If you're not a fan of the 80's don't worry, because there were plenty of clothes reflecting other eras. The more bohemian pieces had Liberty prints, ruffles and were made of fine jersey cotton or sheer chiffon. Some of the more classic items featured beautiful details such as 'broderie anglaise' embroidery or intricate beading.
To get inspiration for new collections Evelyne Chétrite frequently just goes out on the streets and observes people to get a feel for what women want to wear. This probably explains Sandro's popularity in France and how even the most masculine items in the collection flatter female curves perfectly. Prices are of course slightly steeper than your lower-end retail brands, ranging from 50 EUR for simple tops to 300 EUR for trench coats or blazers. These pieces are good quality and meant to last though, so don't feel guilty if you do end up with an armload of purchases.
Address: 50 rue Vieille du Temple, 75004 Paris
Opening Hrs: Mon-Sat: 10:30-19:30, Sun: 13:00-19:30