Oct 9th, 2016, 06:27 PM

Merci, A Parisian Concept Store with Coeur

By Nicole Hanley
Outside of Merci on Boulevard Beaumarchais. Photo Credit: Merci
Merci focuses on ethical approach to everyday chic

I was recently watching Sofia Coppola's 2006 movie Marie Antoinette, a film adaption showcasing the Queen's sartorial gluttony, when it occurred to me. If Queen M were still alive, she would be clutching her cake in despair at the current state of the fashion industry.

bed kirsten dunst marie antoinette lounging in bedKirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette. Photo Credit: Giphy

Allow me to elaborate. In the past five or so years, the fashion industry has seen a dramatic shift from an obsession with the latest and flashiest hot new things to a more streamlined, conscious approach to the way we choose to outfit ourselves each day. Celebritiesinfluencers, and designers are reiterating this movement towards responsible production and buying processes. Even Vogue has chimed in on the industry's environmental sins and recently offered advice on purchasing ethical jewelry. This change makes sense, because we are the connection generation: now, more than ever, we have access to information regarding where and who the things we buy come from, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to turn a blind eye to the fashion industry's sins. Personally, I have always had a hard time rectifying the side of me that cares about social justice, human rights and environmental impact with my other, more senseless side that has an almost Pavlovian reaction towards the latest Dior handbag release. While watching Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette frolicking around in beautiful period garb, I found myself wondering: is there really a way to enjoy fashion without all the guilt?

Can there be a marriage between the stereotypically frivolous world of fashion and social responsibility?

Photo Credit: Openhouse

Leave it to the Parisians, masters of minimalist luxury that they are, to solve this quandary. I first heard about Merci, a concept store located in the achingly hip Haut Marais, through word of mouth. Several of my Marais-frequenting (and, it goes without saying, highly fashionable) friends informed me that this store would be the perfect answer to my moral dilemmas. Merci is a store for those wishing to shop for beautiful things with a clean conscious. Started by Bernard and Marie-France Cohen in 2009, the store currently donates ALL of its profits to The Endowment Fund, a foundation dedicated to encouraging structural change in southwestern Madagascar. Additionally, many designers (I'm talking big names - Saint Laurent, Marni, Chloé) have offered their pieces to the store at significant discounts to support Merci's philanthropic endeavors. 

Photo Credit: The Fashion Post

When I visited the store myself, I was instantly charmed by the cheerful red car parked outside the entrance way and the airy, market-like feel of the inside foyer. Artisanal, crochet mittens mixed with crisp designer shirts create an eclectic (and not at all snobbish) shopping experience. And the store truly is an experience – in addition to clothing, you can also buy anything from a new set of sheets to novelty movie posters. And if you get sick of all that shopping, there's a beautiful literary cafe and canteen next door, brimming with organic fare. It's the perfect wholesome accompaniment to a guilt free day of shopping. 

Photo Credit: The Fashion Post

In case you're starting to think that this all sounds too good to be true – because believe me, I spent the first half hour wandering around the store in awe, too nervous to look at the price tags – below is a list of affordable items that you can grab on a student budget. So, unlike Marie Antoinette, you can have your cake and eat it too. 

Geometrical3 Pappwatch (€15.00)

Zoe Karssen T-Shirt (€60.00)

Merci Heart Medallion (€12.00)

Le Duo Celebrity Cards (Set of 12) (€20.00)

Striped Earthenware Mug (€9.00)

Bonjour Paris City Guide (€12.00)