Fabien Larchez on Designing the Perfect Space

With extensive knowledge in fashion and human behavior, Fabien Larchez understands how to organize merchandise for maximum brand potential.

After graduating from design school, Larchez worked as a Communications Manager for several brands taking charge of projects like window displays, merchandising strategies and catalog/commercial imaging. From there, Larchez would take on his largest project yet… Galeries Lafayette.

The department store chain, Galeries Lafayette, is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe. Comparable to Macy’s or Nordstrom, Galeries Lafayette has a selection that ranges from second hand items to top tier luxury products.

However, the department store was not always such a bold attraction.

“When I arrived at Galeries Lafayette I thought it was a problem. It’s hot. It’s boring. It’s full of people. People were always lost and it was always a mess,” said Larchez.

Galeries Lafayette underwent some serious changes, all directed by Larchez, with the biggest one being the layout.

“The first thing was to clarify one floor, one destination. First floor was for designers and luxury things, and after that, each floor you work for your destination,” said Larchez.

The next set of changes had to do with what was included within the store, besides the fashions for sale.

“After I told them maybe we can do something more than just sell clothes, like put food. There was no food there before, it’s quite new… We put hairdressers where there were no hairdressers. We put a place for a massage. We put perfume that normally we find on the first floor,” said Larchez. “It’s like a concept store but the concepts are the size of the department store.”

Through all these changes, Galeries Lafayette is now an experiential environment. No longer is it a place to buy clothing, but a destination to spend hours in with friends and family. It just so happens that you might find just the perfect item while you’re there.

“We need experience. We need to feel different when you go to the Galeries. If we don’t do that, all the people stay at home in front of the screen and buy clothes from the screen,” said Larchez.

The biggest difference between American department stores and Galeries Lafayette is the extent to which they take one-stop-shopping.

“I think that when you are going to New York, you are going to Saks Fifth Avenue because you need luxury things and you are going to Macy’s because you like more light prices. When you go to the Galeries Lafayette you have everything, you can have light prices and you can have luxury… It’s for everyone,” said Larchez.

Larchez encourages listening to any strong emotional connections you may have when walking into a store like Galeries Lafayette. With future industry professionals, he hopes that this deep sense of listening acts as guidance for how an environment needs to be modified.

“When you go inside the shop, you’re thinking with your stomach, your heart and your head… There is something that is inside you in the stomach and the head, and then after you fall in love,” said Larchez.

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