A Conversation with Paris Menswear Boutique Owner David Safarti
Photo by by Peppe Tortorta
Among the menswear stores in the renowned Marais district, 13 Bonaparte, a menswear clothing store specializing in design featuring garments made in Paris, sets itself apart from others providing different fits, cuts, and beautiful neutral shades. I decided to give David Safarti, 13 Bonaparte’s founder, a call and catch up with him to discuss the future of 13 Bonaparte, as well as his influences amongst the trendy Paris scene.
Good evening, Paris! How did you conceptualize the store? It’s an amazing store.
I instantly fell in love with the clothes. They’re so simple and yet very modern.
It was an amazing opportunity to get this large space in the Haut Marais. The idea was to gather everything: the design studio, the office and a real store.I had worked with a young architect to really bring my universe alive.He had been one of Rudy Riciotti’s assistants. Among the process, there were also some amazing artisans we had collaborated with. It’s funny because it took us only two months to open it.There was a lot of great energy during the renovation.
It had been renovated?
Yes. We washed the walls, designed the furniture-racks, using materials like zinc, glass, wood, and other simple materials.
The store is really pretty. There’s so much natural light that floods the space.
Thanks. Now I feel at home: with the flowers, my books, my patterns. It’s amazing to share with people inside, you know. It’s more than a store.
When I first met you, you made me an espresso and it felt so cozy.
Yes, we smoked outside.
What inspires you in Paris?
Paris is my hometown. Of course, I feel very comfortable here. But I can say that the Haut Marais is fantastic. The area has changed so much with all the art galleries, restaurants, designers…I love the energy.
What’s going on with young designers in Paris right now?
Menswear is really evolving right now in Paris. I feel as though a fantastic new crew of young people are creating effortless menswear. The clothes are wearable, based on quality, and clean cuts. It’s great for us to have these young names and they are all in le Marais. Everyone has their own signatures and identities. We are connected this way.
I want to know about your background in design as well. I love what you just said about signature and identity. What brought you to fashion?
I started my first job in New York City working on branding and packaging cosmetics for popular brands such as L’Oréal and Lauder as a free lancer. I really learned everything there in terms of my own identity. I loved it. But fashion has always been my way
I was born into retail. My parents had children’s retail stores
with trendy brands. So, I was into it (fashion) at a very young age.
Developing my own menswear line has always been my goal
after working and living in NYC. I was taking classes at FIT.
I had also worked for Galeries Lafayette at the image department and it was cool to work with buyers and architects to conceptualize some spaces. It was a good school to prepare my design my own store after.13B is a blend of all my influences: sportswear, design, photography…I blend everything everyday to design simple but researched pieces. Next time you’ll come to my design studio! It will be upstairs.
I would love to. In terms of inspiration, do you have any films, art, other designers that inspire your menswear?
I try to take anything my eyes like. Of course, I love a few photographers like Thomas Demand, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander or architects like Robert Mallet Stevens and so on.
What’s the future for the store? How long has it been open again?
I need more space now! I have too many books. I have some amazing vintage pieces in the store as well.
What kinds of vintage?
The arm chairs are from Friso Kramer. I got a great vintage 70’s coffee table from Knoll and other non-signed pieces. Even the chairs from the fitting rooms are all vintage. That library from the entrance: vintage. I don’t know if you remember.
I remember the chair. Or was it a desk?
From the 60 collection where my jersey line is on display.
The simple jersey tees? Yes!
It was a dream to find the best jersey for my tees to start the brand and then I had later developed the wardrobe.
What would you wear on a normal day at the store?
My jerseys with a denim, sneakers or boots. Neutral tones always. It’s very important to feel well in our clothes everyday.
If you’re in America, where could one buy 13 Bonaparte’s clothes? Online, yes?
Yes! We do have a lot of American customers at the stores that keep shopping online. It would be such a dream to open a flagship in Soho. I wanted to start with my own store to show everything, of course, but also to meet my customers. Now we are opening the wholesale with Japan at the end of the year.
I want to find specialized and great retailers as true partners to represent the brand. It’s a big step for us. The brand will be in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. US is next! NY is a bit like my second home so it will mean a lot for me to have a foot there.