PARIS — In a sign of the French luxury sector’s booming fortunes, Chanel will on Thursday inaugurate a huge complex of ateliers where artisans from around a dozen accessory suppliers create shoes, embroidery and other handmade crafts.

Pent-up demand from international buyers eager after months of lockdown to splash out on fine clothes and accessories from the birthplace of haute couture — or at least stamped with the logo of one of France’s famous fashion houses — has turned the sector into one of the country’s leading exporters.

With an eye towards harnessing this growth spurt by fostering collaborative work, Chanel has grouped around 600 craftsmen together over seven floors, including two below ground, at the site in a working-class Paris suburb.

The craft houses represented, each with its own specialization, include lingerie label Eres, interior decoration Lesage Interieurs, and jewelry maker Goossens.

“When we need to work with, say the jeweler Goossens, we won’t have to cross all of Paris for that, we knock on the door next door and we’re set,” said Hubert Barrere, artistic director of lacework specialist Maison Lesage.

“Same for feathers … This is an extraordinary gain for creativity and synergies.”

President Emmanuel Macron praised the fashion industry as France’s top export sector on Friday, as he inaugurated the complex of ateliers on the edge of the capital’s 19th arrondissement, known as 19M and also including an exhibition space open to the public.

“Today, when I look at figures from 2021, it (fashion) is the leading export sector of our country,” Mr. Macron told an audience of apprentices gathered at the new Chanel-sponsored site.

“Your crafts are artistic crafts … Your crafts are important for the economy,” he said, adding that the sector accounted for 600,000 direct jobs in France.

The president and his wife Brigitte, who wore a Chanel haute couture jacket, spent two hours visiting the ateliers, examining elaborate embroideries work and speaking with craftspeople.

Mr. Macron, gearing up for a presidential election in April though yet to officially declare his candidacy, showed support for the fashion industry early on in his presidency, inviting designers to the presidential palace for dinner before the pandemic hit.

Out of 600,000 workers in the industry, 130,000 are employed in crafts-related jobs, according to estimates from the presidential office. — Reuters