Apr 4th, 2016, 01:29 AM

Cuisse de Grenouille: Surfer Chic, Not Frog Legs

By Meghan Koch
Brothers Lucas and Séverin Bonnichon of Cuisse de Grenouille in its Marais location. Image Credit: Ludo Martin.
The Parisian menswear boutique brings surf style into the heart of a fashion capital.

"Surf in Paris." Where? In the Seine? Wakeskating behind Les Bateaux Mouches? Paddleboarding in the Canal Saint-Martin?

That's about as literal as any "surf in Paris" idea could get, and it seems unlikely that anyone would opt for the toxic soup that makes up Parisian waterways. Yet bringing together the two seemingly incompatible worlds of surf and metropolis is exactly what brothers Lucas and Séverin Bonnichon did when they founded Cuisse de Grenouille, a menswear brand based in Paris. Each year, Cuisse de Grenouille introduces seven new city names to the embroidered crew neck sweaters and tees in its Surf in the Cities series. The series is sold online, at its two brick-and-mortar locations in Paris and at other retailers all over the world.

"Surf in the Cities" crewneck sweatshirts. Image Credit: Cuisse de Grenouille.

Cuisse de Grenouille began in began making boardshorts in 2010, and has expanded to all categories of menswear including basics, outerwear and even shoes. The style is an homage to the California surf culture of the 1960s and is fused with Parisian sophistication. Drawing on the urban, surf-hipster look popular with the younger surfer demographic of Southern California, Cuisse de Grenouille refines this image for the customer it calls the "gentleman surfer." 

Cuisse de Grenouille's Spring/Summer 2016 campaign. Image Credit: Cuisse de Grenouille.

Located in the heart of the Marais, Cuisse de Grenouille's flagship store is subtly inviting to the casual window shopper who perhaps doesn't know that the signage translates to "frog leg."

"Foreigners will find it difficult to pronounce, but will know directly that it sounds French," said the Bonnichon brothers. "And for the French people, they find it funny and they will remember it."

Upon entering, a welcoming scent of coffee from the in-house coffee bar invites exploration beneath the wooden panels that sweep over the ceiling like waves. There are retro-style surfboards, brightly colored boardshorts and a wall of minimalistic basics with tees, button up shirts, cardigans, corduroy pants and light-washed jeans. The modern and laid-back space is very clean and maintained, with friendly staff and interesting accessories intermingled amongst the apparel. With €50 tees, €99 board shorts, €115 sweatshirts and €250 raincoats, Cuisse de Grenouille hits a price point that reflects the quality of a line made entirely in Europe.

 Cuisse de Grenouille flagship store in the Marais. Image Credit: Meghan Frontino.

The Hollister-esque pseudo-surf style, and its lack of surf-related credibility, has always been criticized within the core surf community because of its laughable use of stereotypes. This distaste is emphasized even more because of its mainstream appeal. Cuisse de Grenouille is capitalizing on the same type of surfer chic, but to a higher end, more refined, niche market. It can be argued that the core surf crowd has been anti-fashion in the past, but now the evolution of the modern surfer has taken to CDG's slightly preppy, retro image while still remaining cool and unpretentious. 

Cuisse de Grenouille, Le Marais, 5 rue Froissart, Paris 75003

Cuisse de Grenouille, Les Batignolles, 71 place du Docteur Félix Lobligeois, Paris 75017