October 9, 2013
Hot on the heals of the ethical department store, Merci, comes a chic newcomer: the much vaunted Centre Commercial at 2 rue de Marseille in Paris’ 10th arrondissement.
As a conscientious citizen of the world, I’m happy to join the chorus singing this new concept store the praise it deserves. The idea is simple: ecological and ethical fashion that supports small-scale artisan industry in countries all over the world.
Sébastien Kopp, the co-founder of the innovative eco-sneaker brand, Veja, is responsible for this latest foray into stylish, well-made, ecological fashion − and the carefully culled results presented in this light and airy emporium, are surprisingly chic.
The sober exposed walls with flaky paint and fun neon lighting scrunched into squiggly colors is all well and good, but what really drew my attention was the Scandinavian furniture − particularly the large vintage Swedish mirror in the dressing room − and the selection of vintage furnishings carefully curated along to one side.
An impressive, eponymous magazine also caught my attention. Issue number 1 of the magazine featured thought provoking articles and was prominently displayed throughout the store, among the range of cleverly designed notepads and scented candles.
In terms of the fashion, the stand-out pieces were the Veja bags for guys; a black pair of metal studded Church’s brogues for the ladies − a lot like the ones seen on the Prada catwalk a few seasons back; and a beautiful pair of moss green suede Derbies by English shoemakers Sanders. Incidentally, Prada actually owns Church’s, so I wondered how being owned by a big multinational squares up with the eco-artisan side of things. No matter, Church’s are still (at least they claim to be), made in Northampton in England.
At a time when the European project is on the rocks, Centre Commercial has bucked the trend by proving that pan-Europeanism can work, at least fashionably: one of my star finds was a navy chunky-knit sweater by Antwerp-based label Howlin’ by Morrison which were made (to my surprise and delight) in Ireland.
Another nice discovery was the brand, Blue de Paname, which proudly sports the label “Made in France” − you can even watch a neat video on Blue de Paname’s website of one of their designers making a pair of jeans from scratch in the atelier in Paris.
After watching this video at home I began to scrutinize the label on my pair of A.P.C. jeans, discovering that they are made in Macau – an independent administrative region of China. I mention this because the cult French brand also has a store directly across the street from Centre Commercial.
Lets hope they take note – conscientious endeavors, which support local industry at home and abroad, should be applauded. Centre Commercial is well situated at least: Rue de Marseille is one of the more interesting streets to walk down in Paris’ Saint Martin quarter. The boutiques and even the mouth-watering boulangerie, Du Pain et des Idées, breath new life into old concepts and make this one area visitors and Parisians alike don’t want to miss out on.
- If you think you’ll like Centre Commercial, be sure not to miss their childrens’ store, Centre Commercial’s Kids
- Paris Top Ten lists the best streets when it comes to shopping in Paris
- If you’re in the mood for a bargain we suggest planning a trip to La Vallée Village a little bit outside of Paris where you can find designer clothing for discounted prices
Written by Thomas Butler
Thomas was born in Ireland and has been living in Paris for three and a half years. He has a degree in History of Art from Goldsmiths College, London, and spent a year at the Sorbonne studying French Literature. He works for Localers.com, a Parisian boutique tour company, as a literary tour guide, editor of the blog and community manager. (Photo by Meg Gagnard)
Website: The Localers