Chinese turn Paris suburb into Europe's biggest fashion market | Inquirer Lifestyle
A view of the CIFA -Fashion Business Center (Centre International de Commerce de Gros France-Asie) units are pictured at the "Sentier Chinois" in Aubervilliers, on April 10, 2015. AFP

Chinese turn Paris suburb into Europe’s biggest fashion market

A view of the CIFA -Fashion Business Center (Centre International de Commerce de Gros France-Asie) units are pictured at the "Sentier Chinois"  in Aubervilliers, on April 10, 2015. AFP
A view of the CIFA -Fashion Business Center (Centre International de Commerce de Gros France-Asie) units are pictured at the “Sentier Chinois” in Aubervilliers, on April 10, 2015. AFP

AUBERVILLIERS — The rows of upmarket sedans look out of place parked in the working-class Paris suburb but this is Aubervilliers, Europe’s made-in-China clothing capital where traders recently opened the continent’s biggest garment center.


A vast range of clothing is on offer in this town on the northern edge of the French capital where generations of Chinese have settled — and some made fortunes.


Canny shoppers can pick up a smart ready-to-wear suit for 40 euros ($46) in a central store or a pack of cheap socks in the supermarket, while a stall-holder on the street offers sneakers.


“Here, you can find anything at almost any price,” said Min, a laborer who came from China six years ago, as he pushed a cart laden with boxes and bags for delivery to a wholesaler.


“People come from all over Europe,” he said, himself dressed in fashionable jeans and black down jacket. “This is international.”


Behind Min, customers and porters squeeze between double-parked vans as they head in and out of shops with flashing signs and, at times, whimsical names like: “Glam Couture”, “Bisou’s Project,” “La Bottine Souriante” (“The Smiling Bootee”) and “Miss Baby Hot Bottom”.


When the new Fashion Center — expected to generate more jobs — officially opened at the end of March, it became the largest market of its kind in Europe, overtaking a similar one at Duesseldorf in Germany.


“Aubervilliers has become one of the most important places for business and exchange with China in all of Europe,” said the town’s mayor, Pascal Beaudet. “So we needed to organize accordingly and that’s what we did.”


‘A new reality’


“For those who work in the garment industry, Aubervilliers is indispensable,” said Gaetan Le Gorre, 37, keeping one eye on workers loading his van with a cargo of jeans bought from a local wholesaler.


Le Gorre, from the Brittany region in northwest France, sells clothes in street markets and comes “at least once a week” to stock up in  what he calls “ready-to-wear Chinatown”.


“I pick clothes out, I barter. Here you have everything at hand, but you need to know your way around.”


Hundreds of wholesalers offer an endless choice of textiles, colors and patterns in this vast district between the Paris beltway and the national sports stadium, Stade de France — where France won the 1998 football World Cup.


“Behind every shop, there’s a whole team,” said Pascal, a young Frenchman of Chinese origin who did not give his last name and recently took over his parents’ store. “We turn to French fashion designers to satisfy a Western clientele.”


In the maze of alleys and dead ends, almost all of the family businesses are run by people from the region of Wenzhou, a town in southeast China where emigration is a deep-rooted tradition.


There was a snowball effect after the first Chinese wholesalers starting setting up in Aubervilliers around 2000, said left-wing Mayor Beaudet.


With the city today counting about 1,200 Chinese traders — not including laborers and other employees like Min — Aubervilliers has become the main commercial junction between France and China.


“There is a new generation of businessmen who have arrived, who are French of Chinese origin and who speak French,” Baudet said. “And so I know, in terms of hiring, that there are non-Chinese who work in the stores.


“It’s a new reality and of course it’s interesting for the city and its residents,” he said.


‘The king of Aubervilliers’


The pioneers had actually arrived in France years earlier, said Richard Beraha, a specialist on the Chinese community in the Paris region. At first they had no papers but found work, acquired legal status and gradually earned enough to go into the wholesale business.


One of them, Hsueh Sheng Wang, has built a clothing empire and amassed such a fortune in his late 40s that he has become known as “the king of Aubervilliers.”


He owns dozens of shops in the town but made a bigger name in 2011 when he bought a large share in the northern French port of Le Havre, the country’s hub for ocean-borne trade with Asia.


Wang and seven fellow investors of Chinese origin are behind the new Fashion Center, now Europe’s biggest wholesale textile market with 310 shops in 55,000 square meters (592,000 square feet) in the heart of Aubervilliers.


The Center aims to draw buyers from across Europe and make the textile import-export trade more efficient by consolidating business in one location, said Wang who sees the project as beneficial for the French economy.


The Fashion Center will create “about 2,000 jobs… and not only for Chinese people,” said Victor Hu, 47, one of Wang’s partners who traded in the uniform of the French Foreign Legion for a suit and tie after a spell in the service entitled him to French citizenship.


“We have made a small path,” Wang smiled. “The new generation will build a highway.”


  • john_kruz

    Good luck with toxic products from China!

  • Buck Roger

    cheap quality!


    engget lang yan… kain muna ng banana para mabawasan ang enggetski……

  • Sure Shock

    if not counterfeit products, low quality.

  • Dominic Spencer

    The French would cringe buying Chinese.

  • AkoyTotoyLover

    Lazy Frenchies will learn that they can longer fool the masses with their supposedly quality products. Their fantasy of commanding the high end market is but a farce, that only caters to the elite my azz.
    Chinese will equal the playing field to all levels of society with affordable products at competitive prices.

    • marienkind

      You forgot the words “tacky” and “disposable”. As an added bonus, try “toxic”.

      • AkoyTotoyLover

        You ve been eating GMO engineered foods, pesticide and herbicide tainted foods, kids injected with multiple toxic vaccines with lead and mercury , inhaling smog and smoking cigarettes with added chemicals, plastic wrappings, wide use of aspartame , food coloring/additives and preservatives containing petroleum byproducts and unknown chemicals, fluoridated water , GMO fastfoods containing plasticizer ingredients, synthetic meds, meat and poultry from animals fed with high doses of synthetic hormones and antibiotics, tainted milk , etc , All these can cause diseases such as unknown types of cancer, kidney malfunction, infertility as gonads are damage, autism, lower IQ, mental diseases, malformed newborns, stilbirths, premature babies, diabetes, obesity , endocrine imbalance, heart diseases, immuno deficiency disorders, mysterious allergies, etc right before your very eyes and you dont even know it. The global corporates are so sophisticated to deny the truth or else they go out of business. They designed it so humanity suffers and degenerates, and they profit in your sufferings. While the main stream media continues to brainwash the unknowing audiences and not even touch the issues as they are owned by the same conglomerates.

        In short, the global corporates in their fancy push for globalization through global treaties has been slowly killing the human genome for world depopulation . Global Corporations are all playing their roles for the NEw World Order of the Illuminati. Research on
        The Georgia Guidestones. The first agendum they follow is to reduce the world’s population to 500 million . Right now the world is at 8 billion.

      • Dominic Spencer

        If you read any science at all, youd know that GMO’s and aspartame is safe. It’s about as idiotic as the anti-vaccinations movement. And it’s pretty hypocritical to say that when Chinese clothing’s made from worse.

      • AkoyTotoyLover

        GMOs and aspartame are slow kill biofood weapons. WHy are countries protesting against Monsanto which is known to be connected with the CIA ? WHy many countries refuse to import GMO products ? You are still in a dreamland. The people are awake and you are still in denial? You are pathetic.

        Here a good video about Monsanto


        Vaccines in itself are good but when given in multiples like MMR to very young babies with undeveloped immune systems will cause severe neurological reactions. Many cases wherein they just go into epileptic seizures and stopped breathing. The ones who live will somehow have irreparable damage that shows up later in life. The big pharmas in concert with medical boards are changing the vaccine schedules. In fact , they want to give them earlier (immune systems are immature) with no consent by parents. This is medical tyranny in the road to NEw World Order.

      • Dominic Spencer

        YouTube isn’t a proper academic source. Do you also believe other conspiracy theories like the Ice Bucket Challenge is a Satanic baptism ritual?

        http://rsta. royalsocietypublishing. org/content/roypta/369/1942/1807. full. pdf
        https://royalsociety. org/~/media/royal_society_content/policy/publications/2002/9960. pdf

        Oh, and here’s a YouTube source (since you like them so much) proving that vaccinations are safe.
        https://www. youtube. com/watch?v=nDjz5qHIzsc

      • AkoyTotoyLover

        Heres a fresh one for you


        Conspiracy theory is a term coined by the CIA in the 1960s to discredit investigative journalism or truth journalism. This is their sinister way to distract from truth and reality. Mainstream Media dinowhores are controlled by corporates in the sole purpose of controling the masses by brainwashing and mind control. MSM is propaganda , not journalism. Propaganda is 99 percent disinformation, misdirection and fake news. MSM is a dying breed. Alternative media is the way to go . People are waking up and tired of being told lies after lies after lies.

        On May 23, there s a worldwide protest against MonSatan .


      • Dominic Spencer

        You don’t even know what the cause is. It can range from poor sterilisation, or human error.

        Alternative media doesn’t have to offer any evidence whatsoever. And yes, it is a conspiracy theory. Because there doesn’t really need to be any conclusive evidence to any of the author’s arguments or presumptions.

      • AkoyTotoyLover

        You be stupid to believe the MSM. Their agenda is falsehood and lies.

      • Dominic Spencer

        Since when was the Royal Academy of Science MSM?

      • AkoyTotoyLover

        They all belong to the same matrix serving the goals of the globalist elites for world govt.

      • Dominic Spencer

        Better get your tinfoil hat on…

      • Dominic Spencer

        It’s not all Chinese. Only the people who work there are Chinese. You’ll find some French brands there. It’s just the whole setup that’s tacky.

    • Dominic Spencer

      You mad? The only people buying from here are the ones who can’t afford French retail.

      • AkoyTotoyLover

        The Frenchies are mad. They cannot command their outrageous prices and end of fooling the masses.

      • Dominic Spencer

        Jealous because you can’t afford it? The masses aren’t supposed to afford it. The masses have Indian and Chinese items.