Union des produits laitiers et Avicoles
Paris, Les Halles, 1973
Jeans have bell-bottoms; hair is long; glasses are small and round; Janis and John are the favorite musical icons; and it’s the time to discover new countries and cultures, far from the established passive dogmas of « Peace and Love ». This is the ethnic theme that inspired three talented and avant-garde friends to open the first Parisian concept store, within an old creamery in the Les Halles neighborhood in the center of Paris. Half boutique, half bazaar, « UPLA » – for the « Union des produits laitiers et Avicoles » (Union of Milk and Poultry Products) – offers everything from mother-of-pearl buttons, old lace, small furniture and stylish home decorations, to homemade jam, Crabtree and Evelyn perfumes, bicycles from the Netherlands, or Amercan carpenter’s jeans, which are all bought up like hot rolls, imported over different trips made by these believers in this joyous, mixed-up commerce.
The adventure of these four friends and founders take a new turn when they begin to offer a multi-pocketed messenger bag called a « fisherman’s pouch », the showcase of the collection, that girls and women of the times adore, worn as a shoulder bag, in either natural leather or colored cotton, with hands free. No more handbags : « Upla » style is born!
Paris, St Germain des Prés, 2013
35 years and nearly 400,000 fisherman’s pouches later, Upla has crossed the Seine without losing its industrial spirit. Today, in an old printing studio of 300 m2 in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près, two blocks from the mythic Café de Flore, the new boutique-studio, now refocused on leather goods, welcomes « chic » Parisians, some of their male partners « choc », and numerous Japanese fashionistas, coming to choose one of the 25 models, each with 60 versions, including the now famous « fisherman’s pouch ». Timelesss, this « basic » of the Upla collection is worn with elegance or nonchalence, evenings with a designer dress or daytimes with sneakers. The pouch has become funkier in material and color as the owners who wish to « return to the fundamentals of the brand » have made this the top priority of the day. A team effort that reflects the spirit of the founders, Upla is above all else, a story of friendship and life – from generation to generation – that celebrates a style of life that is both cool and chic at the same time…