A day in the life of Fabien Merdinian
Words Matthieu Morge-Zucconi
Photos Victoria Paternò
TheNextDoor Paris' manager talks moustache, cologne, and flavoured toothpicks.
When we meet Fabien Merdinian in Fontenay-sous-Bois, close to Paris, he’s waiting. Waiting for the opening of The Next Door’s new store in Paris, the Avignon-based fashion boutique’s second shop in France. He’s set to manage this new address, but in the meantime, he sat down with us to talk about this new project, his moustache, and our flavoured toothpicks.
Hello Fabien, can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Fabien, I’m 41, and I’m the manager of The Next Door’s new store in Paris, which replaces the American Apparel shop on rue Beaurepaire, in the République area.
Care to tell us more about your background?
I went to a film school. Back then, I didn’t really like it that much, but I understand the point of it now. I started working sales in the suburbs, in a sports shop. In three years’ time, I’d learnt everything I needed about the job. I then went on to work at Colette, where I stayed for 13 years. Before starting to work there, I’d maybe set foot in the shop twice, and I really didn’t think that it was my type of shop, and I definitely never would have imagined working there. I started working in Colette’s bookshop, and I then moved on to the toys. It was a great place to grow and evolve. As soon as you showed interest in a topic, you were given access to it. That’s how I moved to the hi-tech department, and later, when they needed it, I became the buyer for glasses and accessories. When Colette closed, we were offered to stay on with Saint Laurent, which would be taking over the space. I declined, and I’ve just finished my sabbatical.
So, on top of being a salesperson, you learnt how to manage purchasing.
Exactly. Glasses have become a passion of mine. When I started, Colette sold 6 different brands, and at the end, there were 30 or 40! I’ve always tried to approach the watch and glasses markets with as much hindsight as possible, but always listened to the stakeholders I met, went to all the trade shows, and met the people who made the products. I learnt everything I could!
This new project, The Next Door in Paris, what can you tell us about it?
The idea is to keep The Next Door Avignon’s DNA - a mix of streetwear, skate brands, and premium designers. We’ll carry a range of brands, from Stüssy to Sacai, Comme des Garçons, and APC. There will also be different projects, specific to the Parisian shop. I’ll start working on the floor, to oversee the sales staff. Our strategy is built around three pillars: communication, service, and high-quality customer welcome. To be honest, the shop is amazing. It’s a great place to chill, read magazines, etc. As we move forward, I intend to make the best use of my knowledge of glasses and accessories, on top of managing our team of 5-6 sales staff.
What do your days look like?
Every other week, I have my son with me. So, I have to get up early, to prepare his breakfast among other things. My first priority is taking care of him; Even though he’s 13 now, he likes to act like he still needs me! We have our father and son routines: watching the Tonight Show, listening to music, etc. Throughout my sabbatical I tried to stick to regular waking hours. In general, I’m up by 7am. 8am is when I sleep in. I can’t stay in bed until 11am. Once I’m up, I plan my day, see who’s around and available. Over the past year, I’ve reconnected with quite a few friends, and met new people too.
Speaking of mornings, what do you have for breakfast?
I love coffee, and I’m lucky enough not to need it to function like a normal human being, so I really drink it for pleasure. Back when I worked at Colette, I would go to Téléscope, in the 2nd arrondissement, they do great coffee. I really enjoy going out for my breakfast, but if I’m with my son, it’s usually bacon and eggs.
What’s your grooming routine like?
Working at Colette exposed me to quite a few brands such as Baxter of California and Penhaligon’s. I use the Horace face cleanser, either under the shower or before I shave. When I shower, I’ll use a Horace shower gel or a Baxter soap bar. I currently have a moustache. It’s funny because I recently found pictures of my uncles who all had moustaches, and I think I’m returning to what I saw as a child. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my father and his shave brush, even if I haven’t got around to using one myself yet. For a long time my grooming products - shave cream, aftershave, shower gel and shampoo - were very basic. Discovering Horace opened my eyes to a world of moisturisers that leave no residue, and that’s great. I try to keep an open mind, and when I like a brand, I tend to collect their products!
You have a collection of Horace products?
(Laughs) Let’s just say I have quite a few! I like the toothpicks. I like to collect objects, so small goodies like that are right up my street. I always carry two pens, a notebook, a knife and toothpicks. I like to be prepared for all situations.
What do you use on your hair?
That’s an easy one: the Horace purifying shampoo, and nothing else. I have a head full of hair, and I’m currently letting it grow out. I have phases. I had a buzzcut for a while, first because it was trendy, and then it was simply more practical. I can decide to cut it on a whim, I’m quite radical when it comes to my hair. I’m sort of in between hairdos right now, hence the beanie! I used to go to the hairdressers every two weeks. If I could, I’d go to the barbershop every 2-3 days. I think it’s a good thing when specific trades exist to do specific tasks, and always finding some “me time” is crucial.
What about your perfume?
I like colognes. It ties in to what I was telling you earlier about looking for familiar things from my childhood. I like “Cologne Nocturne” by Le Galion. Before that I wore a lot of Le Labo, and then “Hinoki” by Comme des Garçons. I really like perfume. I’ve even tried wearing some before going to bed. It’s quite pleasant, it has a very fresh feel to it!
Do you practice any sports?
I played basketball for a very long time. I’d been playing for 11 years when I stopped after my son was born. I try to keep an eye on what’s going on, and I started playing again 2 or 3 years back, but it simply wasn’t the same anymore, I took so long to recover. When the weather allows it, I’ll ride my bike, sometimes going from my home in the suburbs to Paris. I have a good bike, so I like to use it! When I’m not on my bike, I try to walk as much as possible. When you have the time to do so, I think it’s the best way of getting around. I enjoy getting lost in the city!