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We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you Ian Michael Crumm, our resident men's fashion expert, here to share style pointers and tips for tackling the latest trends in menswear. Straighten those neckerchiefs—Ian is on the go! Image credit: CJ Tours
Just when you thought your shopping options were dwindling (Okay, come on, you know Century 21 and Vince are opening soon), we get word of CJ Tours, a locally-based shopping concierge service focused on Parisian getaways. Chloe Johnston, founder and president, traveled to Paris for the first time at the wee age of 12. Her mother took her back about once a year, which always meant shopping, especially for vintage finds.
CJ Tours' creation was inspired by all of the people who, after Johnston returned from Paris, complimented her outfits. All of the "where did you get that" sayings informed Johnston there was a niche market ready for her to enter. I chatted with Johnston to how the Paris shopping scene compares to Philly's, how the City of Light has evolved over the years, and which Philly boutique best taps into French style.
What you need to know about CJ Tours:
1) CJ Tours puts together four hour shopping tours in Paris. If you're planning a trip to Europe, then CJ Tours can plan the fashion component of your vacation. Personal shoppers curate the best boutiques and vintage meccas that you need to see. You can also have CJ Tours plan a full-on fashion themed trip that includes wine tastings and cooking classes. The idea behind the trip is that they're showing you Paris like a true Parisian.
2) NYC tours are also offered.
CJ Tours is now scheduling VIP shopping trips to showrooms. Get access to clothing most people never have access to and shop behind-the-scenes of mass retailers. The NYC showroom trip is applicable for guys and is Racked recommended.
3) Tours are especially worthwhile if you're a student.
CJ Tours recently took students from Immaculata University to Paris for a fashion culture immersion program. Students got an insider's look at wholesale sales, met with fashion influencers, and learned about Parisian fashions. More student tours are in the planning stages with Immaculata University and a few other colleges, as well.
And now, a few questions for Ms. Johnston:
1) How would you describe shopping in Paris?
For me, shopping in Paris is an experience. It's about getting lost. It's about finding that piece that you'll never find anywhere else. It's about meeting those shop owners and designers that have so much to share. It's about the Parisian fashion sense of you being the statement piece and not letting your clothes wear you, but you owning the look.
2) How has Paris's shopping scene changed over the years?
There's always new shops opening and new places to discover, so to me, it's become more exciting! One thing I have noticed is a very slow influx of a few American brands into the Parisian market.
3) What's better: shopping in the U.S. or in Paris?
French shopping of course! I have always loved pieces that no one else has. Paris is full of hidden streets and shops that you can just stumble upon. I love knowing the story behind the inspiration for a piece, where it came from, how it was made, and the meaning to the designer. When I'm shopping in Paris, the stories that I am told and the people that I meet along the way... there's nothing like it.
4) Is there any part of Philly that reminds you of Paris?
Philly has so much history, which makes it unique, just like Paris. That coupled with the amazing restaurants!
5) Can you recommend a local boutique that you think really taps into French style?
I love Head Start Shoes. I think their items are on point!