The world of e-commerce is abuzz with news of LVMH’s first multibrand website, 24Sèvres.com. The platform is a digital extension of Le Bon Marché, the LVMH-owned luxury Parisian department store, and the new site takes its name from Bon Marché’s street address, 24 rue de Sèvres.
“Our clients are highly sophisticated and always in search of creativity and innovation. With the launch of 24 Sèvres, we are offering them a truly differentiated online experience built on our unique expertise at Le Bon Marché,” Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, said in a statement.
To celebrate the launch, the site is offering a capsule collection of exclusive collaborations with 68 Parisian and international brands — from both within and outside of the LVMH stable. Each has customized its most iconic products, often with the input of a Parisian ambassador or a friend of the brand.
On the shoe front, Roger Vivier has tapped brand ambassador Inès de la Fressange to create Breton striped ballet flats, while Nicholas Kirkwood has teamed up with Parisian illustrator Nix on a hand-painted version of his Beya loafers. And Pierre Hardy has joined forces with artist Mathias Kiss on slider sneakers with a flatform sole in gold leaf. Salvatore Ferragamo shoe designer Paul Andrew also crafted three exclusive mules.
The department store’s brick-and-mortar location is already well-known for its designer exclusives. Last year, Bon Marché took this notion to the next level, opening a personalization studio for denim. In April, the shoe department introduced L’Atelier du Soulier, a new section within the women’s shoe floor devoted entirely to the customization of footwear. Both are operated by denim specialist Notify.
“Personalization is a very strong trend,” said shoe buyer Morgane Toullec. “We started with denim and are now capitalizing on its success, as we knew there was room for shoes to be customized as well.” She added that while concepts such as Nike iD are commonplace, “the idea for this new initiative is that you can personalize any kind of shoe — sneakers, ballerinas, espadrilles, derbies and everything in between.”
Footwear is, after all, the best-performing out of the store’s accessories. “It is 50 percent of the category,” said Toullec, who cited Christian Louboutin, Valentino and Roger Vivier as leading brands in the luxury shoe contingent.
The shoe floor is a sprawling space bathed in natural light. Its centerpiece is an atrium with restored period glass canopies and surrounded by a series of open rooms. Half of the assortment features exclusive brands or styles specially made for the store — and there is an ever-changing roster of designer pop-ups. (Ancient Greek sandals are one of the current inhabitants.)
Coinciding with the launch of the footwear personalization service, the floor has been slightly reconfigured (Bon Marché maintains a team of 20 architects to realize such projects). The sports and streetwear categories (brands from Nike and Adidas to Off White, Yeezy and Fenty Puma), which lend themselves most easily to personalization, have been moved to an area adjacent to the atelier. Myriad options include patches, studs and jewels, bespoke embroidery, laser printing and specially commissioned artwork.
For example, one customer recently requested that her name be added in gold thread on the side of a pair of Stella McCartney’s Elyse platform oxfords. Another asked for a pearl-studded version of Adidas’ signature stripes to be incorporated on her Stan Smiths (the Parisians’ off-duty shoes of choice). “We saw a big shift in customer attitude and demand, so we adapted our offering accordingly,” Toullec said.
Footwear News tested the service, choosing a standard navy plimsoll shoe. The Bon Marché team hand-painted an F on one shoe and an N on the other in a Cyrillic-style font. A piercing on the back of each heel completed an on-trend gothic punk theme.
As part of the service, three full-time staffers offer design advice and operate the atelier’s seven machines.
Basic additions can be executed while shoppers wait, but if they want to devise their own shoe from scratch, the construction is executed in a factory in Italy and can take around three weeks. Prices start at around $25, and there are only a few limitations. “We can’t fake a Chanel CC or give you red Louboutin soles,” laughed Toullec, “but we can pretty much do everything else as long as it’s feasible.”