There are about ten of them patiently lining up on the sidewalk. The Mode et Travaux boutique in the 8th arrondissement of Paris is one of the businesses selling "mainly fabric" and which was able to reopen before the end of confinement, from April 24, thanks to a government decree published on April 23. This shop, well known to residents of the Saint-Lazare train station district, therefore reopened on Saturday, April 27, and since then, with mandatory masks, distribution of hydroalcoholic gel and limitation of the number of customers inside, it has not been empty.
Highly visible at the entrance, the radius of the cotton coupons of 50x50cm catches the eye with its bright colors and varied patterns. Already cut fabrics very practical for making fabric masks. "It's a very big sale at the moment," says store owner Françoise Cohen. Coupons and rubber bands. "
Change of era, uses and the rise of "fast fashion", haberdasheries have seen their numbers melt like snow in the sun in France since the 1970s. In 20 years, they would have even gone from 5,000 shops to only 1,000 in France, according to an article in Les Echos. But it is difficult to assess their number today: "We must be around 2,500," says Martine Réveillon-Vanstaevel, member of the National Clothing Federation and president for the Bourgogne Franche-Comté region.
A younger audience
To survive, the old haberdashery where women who sewed their clothes themselves previously came to buy ribbons, lace, zippers and other sewing threads had to diversify their offer and service. “Our profession has evolved, analyzes Martine Réveillon-Vanstaevel. There are those who only do haberdashery, those who also sell wool, fabric stores and retouchers. ”
It was the approach of Françoise Cohen and her husband Lionel when they bought the haberdashery, open since 1919, thirty years ago: "We injected fabric and wool and it restarted well". So much so that today Françoise has even offered tailoring courses for four years. Surfing at one point on the success of the television program Cousu main sur M 6, a sort of Top Chef of sewing, the courses met with great success.
The pleasure of doing it yourself
"It energized the store," she says. When people leave the workshop, they will buy us fabric and equipment. ” The trend of Do It Yourself (DIY) and the proliferation of tutorials on the Internet have therefore given a second breath to haberdashery which now attracts a younger audience.
"It's not a question of economy because you can find inexpensive clothing in major brands, but it's the pleasure of making it yourself and personalizing your creations," says Françoise, who also manages the "Les coupons de Saint-Pierre" shop, in the 18th arrondissement, and has a fabric cutting workshop. In total, around forty employees work for this family business.
"There are really extraordinary fabrics"
Personalizing your style is precisely the wish of Victor, a 23-year-old film student, who came to the store to buy patterns to make his own clothes. "There are really extraordinary fabrics in the stores, so why not wear them," he enthuses, like all those enthusiasts who have allowed the haberdashery to survive in front of the big clothing brands and to competition from online sites.
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Because the Internet cannot reproduce all the nuances of a fabric or the particular feel of a material… nor the exchange and the advice provided by the small neighborhood merchant, says Françoise: “We took news of our customers during confinement , and we are happy to find them. "