Ooh La La! 13 French Brands You Can Shop in San Francisco

 Photo: Sandro

Photo: Sandro

San Francisco has a healthy roster of luxury retailers: Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Cartier, Louboutin, Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton. Head to Union Square, and you'll see most of the glitzy names have an equally glitzy presence here. But the Bay Area's Francophilia doesn't end with the big houses. Around the city, younger labels (like Isabel Marant and A.P.C.) and expat boutiques (like Les Cent Culottes and Amour Vert) inject bustling streets with a dose of Gallic style.

Want to add that je ne sais quoi to your wardrobe? These 13 shops are an excellent place to start.

The Locals

There are French brands that move start overseas and expand to California, and there are brands that French expats start right here. Les Cent Culottes, Amour Vert, and Gazette fall into the latter category.

Located in Russian Hill, Les Cent Culottes is bi-level boutique that only carries French lingerie brands. (Think Simone Perele, Lise Charmel, and Chantelle.) Owner Sophie Baudet hand-picks the selection during her regular buying trips to France.

When you're looking for the ultimate, soft tee to layer under your tweed jacket or a striped bateau top to channel Jean Seberg, your first stop should be Amour Vert. Co-founders Linda Balti and Christoph Freshee launched the sustainable fashion brand right here in SF back in 2011. The company, which has a zero-waste philosophy, specially-engineers textiles and blended fabrics to be soft, flattering and long-lasting. (While Amour Vert is headquartered and produced in San Francisco, the owners are très Français.)

Gazette (334 Gough) is a newcomer to San Francisco, located just around the corner from the original Amour Vert shop in Hayes Valley. Owner Charlotte Boedec is a native Parisian and has curated a très chic assortment of French brands that are either sustainably sourced, ethically-made, or both. (You can read more about each brand on the helpful placards in the shop. Bay Area French lady and Coquette blogger Natalie Zee Drieu compares is to "taking a shopping trip to France." High praise, indeed!

The Imports

 Photo: Cotelac

Photo: Cotelac

When brands are considering international expansion, San Francisco is often one of the first cities to get a store thanks to our formula retail policy. Yet sometimes locals find a store they love in France and decide that they simply must have a location in the Bay Area. That's what happened with Union Square's Cop.Copines. Local doctor Lillie Mosaddegh opened the first company's first stateside boutique with her husband in 2009 because she wanted to bring her favorite French store stateside.

Then there are the brands, like Cotelac, that mesh with the laid-back aesthetic in the area and set up shop. Cotelac understands that the key to a San Franciscan's heart is an embarrassment of light layers, and the brand does beautifully-detailed pieces with the best. Acoté, Cotelac's little sister, is kind of like a French version of Madewell: lots of cute basics, and nothing that's going to break the bank.

 Photo: The Kooples

Photo: The Kooples

Most of the French shops in San Francisco cater to women in search of the French-girl look, but there are a few options that outfit men, too. Stocking both menswear and womenswear, The Kooples on Fillmore specializes in tailored, androgynous dressing. You know that Vogue feature about Gigi and Zayn shopping each others' closets? The Kooples has been helping couples do that for years.

 

 Photo: Isabel Marant

Photo: Isabel Marant

Under the Radar Luxury

Beyond the Chanel and Dior-level stores that most people think of when they hear the words "French fashion," there's a new crop of luxe labels coming to San Francisco from the continent. The most notable addition to the local shopping scene was Isabel Marant, which set off the recent fashion boom in Jackson Square. It's easily San Francisco's most compelling destination for French-style cool—where you shop if you want to dress like Caroline de Maigret, Charlotte Gainsbourg, or Lou Diollon. Down the street from Isabel Marant, A.P.C., (an abbreviation for Atelier de Production et de Création), is known for minimalist designs and super-rad denim. The store carries the men's and women's collections, as well as the A.P.C. Outdoor Voices collection.

Finally there's Eres, which started as a French swimsuit brand in the 1960s and expanded to lingerie 20 years later. The brand, which has a store in Hayes Valley, stands out in the field of luxe lingerie labels for its minimalist styles. 

In a League with LV

 Photo: Goyard

Photo: Goyard

The days of folks obsessing over Louis Vuitton Neverfull totes seem quaint compared to the new cavernous bag craze: the Goyard tote. More colorful than its LV counterparts, Goyard makes a limited number of bags—and doesn't engage in ecommerce. At one time, the brand's repeating-Y print was all hand-painted, but today the company only hand-paints monograms. Want a new Goyard? You'll have to go in person to the company's Grant Avenue store. (Fun fact: Goyard only has three stand-alone shops in the US, and San Francisco was its first.)

 Photo: Moreau

Photo: Moreau

You'd be forgiven for thinking Goyard is located at the corner of Post and Powell in Union Square. For years, that was the luggage-maker's home. Last spring, Moreau, another French bag maker that hand-paints monogram bags, moved into the same space. The brand has been making monogrammed travel luggage since in Paris since 1882, and—much like Goyard and Louis Vuitton—bags are prices in the thousands. Moreau, however, is even harder to locate in America than Goyard. The brand is carried in only three locations in the US: Barney's in San Francisco and New York, and the Moreau boutique on Powell Street. 

Ready to take a French shopping tour without crossing the Atlantic? The map below includes all the stores in the story. Vive la France!