Fabric shopping in Paris

Let’s be blunt.  Fabric shopping in Paris is very expensive.

Count your lucky stars if you live in Portland.  There you can get quality fabric at good prices at so many stores:  PFI Supply, Mill End, Josephine’s, Bolt, Whole 9 Yards.  By the end of our stay in Paris, we were begging for a JoAnn’s.  I kid you not.

When I was there studying at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, we were given a list of stores where we could buy class supplies.  Here’s a rundown.  One note:  Go in mid-January to mid-February or July when French shops are legally allowed to sell items for less than cost and use the word ‘Sale’ or ‘Soldes’ in their windows and ads.  Expect long lines.

Marche St. Pierre is in Montmartre district right below Sacre Couer, 18th arrondissement.

Marche St. Pierre is the main drag for fabric.  Its looks much like the fabric district in Los Angeles: Sidewalks lined with polyester.

Rue d’Orsel, the main street through the fabric district of Marche St. Pierre.

Two high points:  Tissus Reine, a full line of products and quality, though not all of the notions we have here.  Tissus Paris, a good variety of silks, though overpriced.  For example, a meter of silk habotai (called “pongee” here) sells for 23 euros or $26 versus $18 a yard in the U.S.  And that’s on sale.

La Reine, our most-visited fabric store.  Solde=Sale

Paris Tissus right below Sacre Couer.  Tissus=Fabric.  A good place for silk.

Two lesser points: Dreyfus with its five floors of so-so fabric.  Maison Blanc where they sell remnants (“coupons” here), 3 meters for 16 euros a meter.

Dreyfus.  Big store. Boring fabric at high prices.

Bourse-Sentier business district next to Les Halles shopping center, 2nd arrondissement.

There are smaller stores in the Sentier near the Bourse, Paris’ equivalent of Wall Street.  These are supposed to be wholesale, but don’t have wholesale prices.  Here we found hat supplies at Ultramod, knitting and embroidering supplies at Le Drogerie and ribbons at Mokuba.

Ultramod hat supplies and trims.

Hidden gems in Passy, 16th arrondisement and Rue du Faubourg St. Honore, 8th arrondisement.

To get the best fabrics, we had to go to Tissus Edre in Passy.  Here, I bought two meters of Chanel wool at about 55 euros a meter from the lovely Sophie.  We also went to Janssens & Janssens near Rue du Faubourg St. Honore where I bought Chantilly lace for a mother of the groom dress for 95 euros a meter.

Tissus Edre in Passy and its proprietress, Sophie — a special place.

Janssens on rue D’Anjou near the Faubourg when you absolutely must spend a boatload of $$$.

Designers who live in Paris have relationships and can buy from wholesale companies not open to retail customers like us as students.  Some of these fabric are milled in Italy.  But most are made in China or India, as are most fabrics worldwide today.

But it’s Paris.  Why do you need a fabric budget when you are here, in the city of light and fashion?

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Fabric purchasing advice

Hi Sharon,

I’m in the final prototyping stage of my tank tops in a slubby lightweight organic french terry. I have one more roll of this material, with 50 yards on it. I am in search of a slightly softer fabric and am ordering sample yardage from Pickering. That said, if the fabric I order is more luxurious feeling (also more expensive), should I go ahead and sew up the 100 tanks I can get out of my current supply and sell them at a discounted price to my loyal fans, or should I hold off and wait until I get the new fabric – which could take longer (and I’m stuck with 50 yards of french terry). My fabric has a very natural organic feel to it, and when paired with the modern minimalist cut of the tank has a cool style.

I really appreciate your perspective and advice on this. – Heather T

Hi Heather — You likely have already made a decision but I always go with the original sample. That’s what people used for their buying decision. That would mean staying with your original fabric. The Pickering fabric is just speculation. You may not like it after all. It may be more expensive for your profit margin. If you do like it and order it then great, you have next season’s garments.

Hope that helps — S//PFI

PFI expands: New building, new store now open

Monday, February 11, 2019

Portland Fashion Institute is expanding.  Today, PFI announced it has purchased the building next to its main building in Portland’s Hollywood District.  The building adds another 3,000 square feet to house a growing number of classes and students.
   “We’re moving forward to make our corner of NE 43rd and Tillamook into Portland’s Apparel Center,” says PFI owner and director Sharon Blair.
   Blair is working with an advisory board from Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Nike and Shibui Knits to bring 3D and innovative design labs plus a retail space for boutiques and a design museum into the new space.
   The first floor of the building has been remade into a fabric store with everything from scissors and thread to silks and knits for apparel makers.  PFI hosts twice-yearly textile shows and will move them into the new space — called PFI Supply.
   “We have many makers and manufacturers in this town.  With the closure of Fabric Depot and Rose City Textiles, it’s getting harder to find good-quality apparel fabrics.  We aim to serve that need,” Blair says.
   “If all goes well, we will reinstall a drive-through window left by a former credit union as a convenient way to sell thread, zippers and fabric.”
   Students have begun to use the store and building.  PFI plans a grand opening in April as part of Design Week Portland.
PFI Supply, portlandsewingsupply@gmail.com, ‭(971) 801-6446‬, 4225 NE Tillamook PDX 97213
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