Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg
I happened to stumble on this men’s shop when I was walking around the 6th arrondissement in Paris. I stood outside it gazing longingly at the window. I let out several long sighs, thinking how much my two brothers would hate me if I bought them one of their deliciously preppie looking jackets. And then I let out another long sigh at the thought that I couldn’t inflict one on my ex either, as he was – well – my ex.
It took a Frenchman in London, Célian Ravel d’Estienne, to show me that walking past this shop without at least going in had been a terrible mistake. Célian and I were in the middle of a whistle stop tour of my local supermarkets – the idea being that Célian, a wine merchant, would tip me off about drinkable bottles under £10 – when I spotted a flamboyant set of stripes on the inside collar of his raincoat.
‘Mais, qu’est-ce que c’est?’ I asked.
He put down the bottle of unaffordable Châteauneuf-du-Pape he’d been eyeing up.
‘It’s from Ganso, the Spanish shop. ‘You don’t know it? It was set up by two brothers in Madrid.’
The chance discovery of where cool French boys shop was wonderful and unexpected. I dashed home in the pouring rain and looked up El Ganso. It turns out it’s been going since 2004 and has shops in Spain, Mexico, Chile and Portugal. The founders are two Spanish boys called Alvaro and Clemente Cebrián, who once spent a summer washing up in London. Everywhere they went they saw what the Spanish describe as ‘un look British.’ They loved, in particular, the tweed and the tartan. Inspired by classic British tailoring, they decided to update it and add their own twist.
The result is a sort of Euro-preppie look (English men: feel free to run away now) that I happen to love – slightly dandy, a bit cool, retro-inspired, slim fitting and colourful. The company’s trademark tricolor ribbon, like the one Célian is wearing in the photo, is often found inside its jackets and coat collars, or on belts.
The good news is that El Ganso has two shops in London. Their bestselling products are their shorts and t-shirts but they also do everything from linen blazers (£185) to checked ‘Vichy’ shirts in bright colours (£65), as well as the very same suede Oxford shoes (£95) with blue, yellow and green soles I spotted in the window of their shop on rue de Rennes.
El Ganso is at 42 Carnaby Street W1, 020 7287 6491 and 27 Neal Street, WC2, 020 7240 3645. The Paris shop I visited is at 60 rue de Rennes (pictured above), 00 33 1 42 84 20 95. The company sells women’s clothes too but they’re not in the same league.