Autumn and Brian Merritt of Sir & Madame | Sponsored | Faces of 53rd Street (sponsored advertising) | Chicago Reader

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Not every couple can navigate marriage, parenting young kids, and running a lifestyle brand and store, but Brian and Autumn Merritt do it artfully, making it look easy — a real-life definition of couple goals. The duo is the creative force behind their “classic with a twist” Chicago-based apparel label, Sir & Madame. The Merritt’s Hyde Park store brings in both customers and fashion stylists alike, with themed collections snapped up as soon as they’re launched.

It doesn’t get much more “meet cute” than this – Brian and Autumn Merritt met in middle school at Hyde Park’s Ray Elementary, and later attended Kenwood Academy together. After college, Autumn knew her future included becoming a part of the Chicago creative community and building a life with Brian – starting a fashion business together made that possible on both counts.

Two months after getting married in 2007, they opened Solemates in Wicker Park, a consignment sneaker store. The Merritts later rebranded the store as Sir & Madame, adding their own private label designs – and opened the first dedicated Sir & Madame store in Ukrainian Village in 2010. They saw a void in the boutique market for men’s and women’s casual wear with unexpected details, and together they produce eclectic collections of casual and elegant pieces. With Autumn handling the retail and marketing operations and Brian in charge of product line management, they’ve formed a partnership that plays on their strengths and continues to evolve.

Hyde Park was always on their radar as a possible new store location, but at that point the local retail scene was still somewhat undiscovered outside the neighborhood. The University of Chicago invited them to open a popup location on 53rd Street in September 2013 and when the six-month term ended, they knew they wanted a permanent location in their old teenage stomping grounds – where they grew up and formed a family.

Their store at 5225 S. Harper Court opened in August 2015, and at the time Autumn commented, “When we were teenagers, it (Hyde Park) was the place to be—where all the cool people were. All of that was sort of lost until now, and we want to be a part of bringing that back.” Since then, Sir & Madame has become one of the neighborhood’s don’t-miss shopping destinations, attracting customers from all over the city, reinforcing Chicago’s place as a center for fashion – and bringing more awareness to the neighborhood’s charms.

Brian remarked, “People who aren’t familiar with the South Side, when they come (here) they’re like, oh well, it’s not what the news makes it out to be, and they realize we have good stuff here on the South Side. Good food, entertainment, and shopping, and you’ve got a thriving neighborhood in Chicago.” Autumn added, “It means a ton to us just to have a presence here and to be able to touch people and talk to people and inspire people, and be inspired by people.”

The couple has starred in a day-in-the life Honda Civic commercial that aired after the Cubs won the World Series, has been featured in Marie Claire magazine, and when interviewed for a January 2017 Chi City Fashion blog post, Autumn said, “Over the past 10 years we have witnessed so much growth within the art, fashion and music communities… it truly is amazing. Chicago is a city that for so long was overlooked with limited resources in the fashion and retail industries, so to be instrumental in that shift is important to us.”

5225 S. Harper Court

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