Chez L’Artiste’s stores look like the well-stocked wardrobe of your hippest, best-dressed friend. Shoppers can refresh their entire look from head to toe with colorful, trendy clothing imported from South Korea, accessories by indie designers or Chez L’Artiste’s own line of vintage-inspired shoes.
Run by young entrepreneurs, Chez L’Artiste sells women’s and men’s styles with prices aimed at a customer base of students and young professionals. Clothing ranges from NT$1,000 to NT$3,000, while most shoes and boots are priced from NT$2,000 to NT$5,000. Chez L’Artiste was founded by sisters Maggie Peng (彭鳳卿) and Gladys Peng (彭鳳岐) when they were fresh out of university; the brand’s shoes are designed by Nicky Chang (張怡菁), who was a regular Chez L’Artiste customer before she went into business with the Peng sisters.
After graduating, the Pengs opened a stall in Taichung City’s Fongjia Night Market (逢甲夜市) with clothing sourced from wholesalers in Wufenpu (五分埔). The experience was a crash course in fashion marketing as the sisters balanced their regular jobs with visiting suppliers in Taipei City and rushing back to Taichung City at night to run their stall.
But the two were encouraged by the rapport they built with customers. “Most of them were students and we had just graduated, so it was like making new friends. Sometimes they even treated us to snacks or drinks from the night market,” Maggie Peng says.
With money saved from the stall, the sisters opened their first store in a converted garage next to Shida Night Market (師大夜市) in 2006. Chez L’Artiste now has three stores in the Shida area, as well as locations in Gongguan (公館) and Dazhi (大直). Maggie Peng travels to South Korea several times each month to visit wholesalers and trade shows. “Our clothing is supposed to be worn on a daily basis, so we pay a lot of attention to street style,” says Maggie Peng, who also pores over the South Korean editions of Vogue, Vogue Girl, Elle Girl and Nylon. She says body-conscious and tailored styles will return this spring after seasons of empire waist dresses and flowing tops. Some of the newest items on Chez L’Artiste’s racks include modish black-and-white color-blocked minidresses with unexpected details like detachable collars. Other dresses are sewn from silky fabrics and have fitted bodices that set off gathered circle skirts.
WHAT: Chez L’Artiste
WHERE: Shida flagship store: 60 Yunhe St, Taipei City (台北市雲和街60號); second Shida clothing store: 5, Ln 75, Yunhe St, Taipei City (台北市雲和街75巷5號); Shida shoe store: 74, Yunhe St, Taipei City (台北市雲和街74號); Gongguan store: 3, Ln 136, Roosevelt Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路四段136巷3號); Dazhi store: 3, Ln 33, Dazhi St, Taipei City (台北市大直街33巷3號)
OPENING HOURS: All stores are open from 3pm to 11pm except for the Shida shoe store (open from 4pm to 11pm) and the Dazhi location (2pm to 10pm)
TELEPHONE: Shida flagship store: (02) 2367-7205; second Shida clothing store: (02) 2368-1838; Shida shoe store: (02) 3365-2327; Gongguan store: (02) 2369-8182; Dazhi store: (02) 2532-5532
ON THE NET: www.chezchez.com.tw, www.chezlartiste.com.tw
Current best sellers include classic wool duffle coats for men and women; more adventurous dressers can try oversized, asymmetrical parkas lined with fake fur. Women’s jackets for spring come in icy pastels and feature feminine details like ruffled peplums. Stonewashed denim is still popular, but Peng is excited about patchwork skinny jeans. In keeping with the latest menswear trends, Chez L’Artiste stocks lots of eye-catching graphic and Fair Isle sweaters.
“Taiwanese men generally don’t dress up, but we target those who do,” Maggie Peng says.
In addition to imported items, Chez L’Artiste also carries Taiwanese lifestyle brand Bird is Tripping (www.trippinginc.com) and Connie jewelry, which is designed by one of the sister’s friends and mixes sparkly rhinestones with leather and brass.
Chez L’Artiste’s own footwear line ranges from gamine ballet flats to sexy platform stilettos. Chang focuses on quirky details, such as origami-like bows folded from suede, contrasting piping and cutouts that make leather look like delicate eyelet lace. Trendy flat-soled Oxfords are given a new twist with asymmetrical vamps and bright colors, while high top work boots are feminized with soft amethyst purple leather. Shoes with retro inspirations include strappy low-heeled sandals reminiscent of 1940s styles or Mary Jane pumps with curved heels that flappers might have worn.