Chic on the cheap: New figures reveal the French spend far less on clothes than the British and other Europeans.
France is among the European nations whose citizens spend the least on their wardrobe, with clothing expenses for the French falling well below those of their neighbours including the British, according to new figures that may surprise many.
The statistics, which come from a comparative study of household spending by data agency Eurostat, tell a surprising story.
The French who are known around the world for their style and chic dress sense are somewhat shockingly among the nationalities in Europe who spend the least on their wardrobe.
According to the statistics, in 2016 clothing and footwear represented 3.7 percent of the total spending of the average French household.
This compared to 6.3 percent for the Portuguese, 6.2 percent for Italians, 5.6 percent for British and 4.5 percent for Germans.
Photo: Mario Mancuso/Flickr
Put into euros, this the average French person spent on their clothing budget in a year was €668 compared to €855 for Germans and a whopping €1,061 for Italians.
In fact, the French were well below the European average which stood at 4.9 percent, with only the Romanians, Bulgarians, Hungarians and Czechs revealed as more economical than the French when it came to their clothing budget.
"Italians are over-consumers in terms of both women's and men's clothing because in the country (especially northern Italy), appearance and self-esteem are very important," distribution expert Laurent Thoumine told BFM TV.
This might have been something many expected to also be true of the French.
However a survey carried out by Statista showed that contrary to the Italians, the French do not attach great importance to their appearance, with nearly 70 percent of French people saying they are not interested in fashion (and 24 percent not at all interested).
And while those living in France's chic capital Paris might well be confused by the figures, it appears the amount the French spend on their clothes has been falling for years.
For example, in 1991, French people spent 6.7 percent their outgoings on clothing and footwear but in 2005, this figure had dropped to 4.7 percent.
And of all household expenses, clothing has been the lowest for the past 25 years.
By comparison, the French spend 13.4 percent on their diet, 4.8 percent on furniture and household items and 8.5 percent on leisure and culture.
It isn't just a question of a lack of interest in fashion, say experts.
According to the national statistics agency INSEE, the household budget in France is "increasingly constrained by pre-committed expenses (such as those relating to housing, insurance, telecommunications).
And as a result French households are spending less on clothing.
On top of that, the French love to buy clothes from cheaper outlets like hypermarkets rather than from the France's luxury fashion houses.
Hypermarket E.Leclerc is for example the third biggest seller of clothing in France, behind Decathlon and Galeries Lafayette and Carrefour in 9th place.
Also showing the French taste for affordable clothing is the garage sale phenomenon which has taken hold of France since the 2008 financial crisis, says Thoumine.
"A trend which has hit areas around France is for the buying and selling second-hand clothes," he said.
So while France might be the home of Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton, it seems the French are not quite the dedicated followers of fashion they are believed to be.