“We hate the term concept store. We like the idea of being a fashion boutique,” says Guillaume Steinmetz, one third of the team behind The Broken Arm, located in a tranquil and leafy corner of the Marais. If the façade is charmingly old world, what lies within is anything but. The clue is in the window display, which might show an asymmetric dress (€430) with a camisole-thin black strap on one side, a wide white cotton strap attached to a large silver hoop on the other.
The dress is by Jacquemus, one of a handful of fashion-forward brands selected by Steinmetz and his friends-cum-colleagues Anaïs Lafarge and Romain Joste. The trio met while working as fashion interns and went on to run an online fashion magazine called De Jeunes Gens Modernes before debuting The Broken Arm three years ago. “At first we selected a lot of accessories but now we are much more focused on the clothes. We’re inspired by multibrand little stores in small towns, where the patron will think, ‘Oh, Madame Louis will like that’. We also buy for specific clients, except they could be anywhere in the world. Someone in Korea called us recently because we had two pieces they were after by Raf Simons.”
The Broken Arm is a light and airy space, with pale-blue walls, wooden floors and a bustling little café. Its modus operandi may lean towards the outré but the clothes are still approachable, a combination of well-known labels like Loewe, Lemaire and Marni, young, edgy brands such as Jacquemus and Vetements (a store bestseller), and sporty touches – smatterings of Gore-Tex from NikeLab ACG and a wide selection of trainers.
“Each rack is dedicated to one brand,” explains Steinmetz, “and is a concise selection of what we like.” The somewhat sparse presentation mixes up mens- and womenswear in a nod to androgynous dressing. Women buy the Raf Simons pieces – a brown trench-like mac (€1,835) with a pattern of perforated eyelets, perhaps – and men might buy something from Vetements, like smartly tailored knee-length shorts (€540); cool all-black Nike LunarTempo 2 trainers (€120) could be paired with a pair of men’s wide-legged black trousers (€1,375) by Seoul-based label Juun J as easily as a bright and breezy pleated and foliage-printed mid-length skirt (€695) by former Lanvin designer Cédric Charlier. And since Steinmetz, Lafarge and Joste can usually be found in store, advice is always on hand.
Alongside the clothes are tables of fashion magazines and accessories, where beautifully simple leather totes (€550), cross-body bags (€399) and wallets (€350) by PB 0110 – in black and lilac or eye-popping yellow and turquoise – and Loewe’s angular Puzzle bags (€1,600) sit next to classic but cool tortoiseshell sunglasses by Our Legacy (€180). Gorgeously silky pyjamas (tops from €415, bottoms from €315) by Raphaëlla Riboud, as well as archival fashion books on the likes of Junya Watanabe, round out “the expression of our universe”, says Steinmetz.