Beneath the Metal Wave: How Belmont Army Became a Mecca Among the Subcultures

-Accessories, -Streetwear, -Vintage, Shoes No Comments »

By B. David Zarley

Traffic and passersby on Belmont Avenue reflect off of the glistening metal panels that make up the building’s facade, undulating gently like Lake Michigan mellowed out on alprazolam. Rising four stories high from the sidewalk, the business beneath the wave has survived since 1975, weathering fads, recessions and location changes. In Lakeview, a neighborhood of fickle tastemakers and expendable income, Belmont Army is sacred ground: Macy’s meets Mecca.

Temples are rare on multifarious ground, as they require a consistent bedrock upon which to be built. Despite the throbbing, well-muscled and ever-spreading mass of frat-mentality dumbfuckery reaching out its menacing tentacles from Wrigleyville in an effort to become the dominant cultural milieu—one primarily composed of polo shirts, drunken girls with longer heels than dresses and noxious “DJ’s” spinning the absolute lowest-grade electronic dance music, which, granted, is an admittedly fun atmosphere with the right company and chemicals in a Goodall-amongst-the-chimps sort of way on a Saturday night—Lakeview still has a vast array of subcultures. Girls in blonde pixie cuts, high-waisted shorts and big glasses ride fixed-gear bicycles; men with handlebar mustaches and Wayfarers driving mauve PT Cruisers; salon girls whose tight black clothes cling to them like the smell of cigarettes and perfume, tattoos peeking out from beneath the short sleeves. A vibrant LGBTQ community bustles, while young professionals travel from Sheffield Avenue to the Loop for work, a mass migration of ties and pencil skirts twice each day. It is a mess of youth and money and life, drawn together in its existence below North Clark’s grim weekend realities and its willingness to embrace the hip. Read the rest of this entry »

New Wings: Haji Couture Soars Again with Feather Jewelry

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By Sarah Alo

It’s hard to walk into any store lately and not see something with feathers. The trend has lasted for more years than expected, trickling from haute couture down to the lowest prices at chain accessories shops. One of the designers at the heart of the trend in Chicago is jewelry designer Aya-Nikole Cook of her brand Haji Couture. Since 2007, Cook has been crafting works of art to adorn women’s ears with feather jewelry. After a rocket to success at the beginning, she’s on hiatus for the past year, hardly stocking in-store and closing her Etsy site. This summer, however, she’s working on a comeback and an answer to the fake feather takeover. Read the rest of this entry »

Skin Craft: How Diego Rocha Makes his Handmade Bags

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Chicago designer Diego Rocha won InStyle’s 2011 Independent Handbag Designer Award for the Best Handmade Handbag. As the winner, he receives a designer feature on Singer Sewing Company’s website and Facebook page, as well as a full Singer Sewing Studio and a feature on Here, Rocha shares the steps he goes through for each custom bag he crafts. Read the rest of this entry »

Open For Business: Green Goddess Boutique

*New Boutiques, -Accessories, -Womenswear, Chicago Boutiques, Green, Lincoln Park No Comments »

For all who dream of carrying around old bus seats all day, let your wishes be granted. Well, not whole bus seats—just parts of them. An odd dream, but at Green Goddess Boutique, even the strangest dreams come true. At Green Goddess, which opened at 1009 West Armitage on April 1 (another location is in Hinsdale), recycled and repurposed items yield fashionable goods that often come from unusual places.

These oddly rooted items include handbags made of recycled bus seats from the Argentinean brand Viva Zapata!, but it doesn’t stop there. There are portfolios made with recycled billboards so that they can survive any weather, floor mats made of recycled candy wrappers, light fixtures made out of mason jars—and this is just the beginning. Read the rest of this entry »

Open for Business: Scoop NYC Gold Coast

*New Boutiques, *The Nationals, -Accessories, -Menswear, -Women's Shoes, -Womenswear, Gold Coast No Comments »

Scoop NYC is taking things slowly—its second store in Chicago, just opened in the Gold Coast, comes about four years after the company entered Chicago with its Bucktown location at 1702 North Milwaukee.

So what’s different about the new store?  The 4,800-square-foot Gold Coast store reflects an updated version of Scoop, says Heidi Hoelzer, the buyer director and divisional merchandise manager. “We will open the store with our best product and brands and, after spending more time with the Gold Coast Scoop customer, we will edit as necessary. I think we will see more tourists in our Gold Coast store than we do in Bucktown, with a higher demand for designer items,” says Hoelzer.

For this reason, the Gold Coast Scoop store will add Roberto Cavalli and Missoni to its designers roster, which includes Helmut Lang, Alice & Olivia, Free City, Burberry, Camilla Skovgaard, Anya Hindmarch, Zac Posen, Dsquared, Billy Reid and Simon Spurr. “From the best shirt, denim, blazer, cocktail dress, or beach cover-up to a strappy sandal, we have it all under one roof for men and women,” Hoelzer says.

Under that roof are two stories of men’s and women’s merchandise, with women’s clothing, accessories and shoes on the first floor and a glass staircase leading to menswear on the second. A 375-square-foot terrace provides event space, and Scoop expects to host a book signing event for the authors of “Who What Wear,” as well as trunk shows and charity events. (Sarah Alo)

Scoop NYC, 1011 North Rush, (312)649-9880

CityBlue Denim & Apparel

*New Boutiques, -Accessories, -Jewelry, -Menswear, -Womenswear, Chicago Boutiques, Old Town No Comments »

1444 N. Wells, (312)664-2222

Goods: Men’s and women’s apparel, jewelry and accessories. Designers: Genetic, Citizens of Humanity, Ella Moss, Splendid and Junk Food are all in rotation at this premium denim boutique. Owner: 25-year-old Mallory Ulaszek may be young, but when it comes to denim, she knows her stuff. “I’ve been shopping for premium denim since I was like, 10!” she says. Vibe: Loud tunes and bright colors put the final spin on this edgy little shop – it’s a total rocker’s paradise. Price Range: Moderate to Inexpensive. The Look: Rock and roll all the way. Amongst the Jimi Hendrix tees and record-based display cases you’ll find everything you need to channel your inner superstar. Bring back the ’80’s with some acid-wash jeans, or go back a little further with a hip tye-dye scarf: no matter what decade you’re going for, Ulaszek pays homage to it Shopper’s Perks: All of the art is up for grabs – all you have to do is ask!

Open for Business: DLR Clothing & Accessories

*New Boutiques, *The Nationals, -Accessories, -Womenswear, Lincoln Square No Comments »

DLR Clothing - Oct09 - 00097For stylish low-priced clothing, Chicago women might shop at H&M or Forever 21 downtown. But discriminating value shoppers have a new option: DLR Clothing & Accessories in Lincoln Square. Owner Sandy Veder stocks his boutique with fashionable merchandise that he buys wholesale. “Inventory is held at the actual manufacturer, which is different from most retailers,” he says. With no distributor or large stockroom, the markup is low.

DLR’s reasonably priced brands include Pink Martini, Ark & Co, and Alythea. “We sell Lush—you’ll find it at Nordstrom’s, but ours is thirty percent cheaper,” Veder says. “We have Renee C. at thirty percent cheaper than Saks, and we get it three weeks before they do. Shop anywhere around and you’ll see that a jacket/coat costs $250, but we have it for $129.95.”

Another advantage is the limited quantity offered of each distinctive fashion. Read the rest of this entry »

DLR Clothing & Accessories

*New Boutiques, *The Nationals, -Accessories, -Womenswear, Lincoln Square No Comments »

DLR Clothing 0 Oct09 - 000964703 N. Lincoln, (773)561-5997 [ratings]

Goods: Stylish women’s fashions. Softly-draping sweaters, blouses and tops. Elegant cocktail dresses, tailored jackets/coats. Accessories include plaid scarves, knit berets and oversized handbags. Designers: Lush and Renee C., Pink Martini, Ark & Co., Toska, Alythea. Read the rest of this entry »

Deliciously Vintage

*New Boutiques, -Accessories, -Menswear, -Vintage, -Women's Shoes, -Womenswear, Pilsen No Comments »

1747 S. Halsted, (312)733-0407, [ratings]

Goods: Vintage clothing with modern tailoring for men and women, but primarily for women. Shoes and accessories, including hats, jewelry and designer sunglasses. Designers: Dior, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Oscar De La Renta, St. John and others. Read the rest of this entry »

DNA 2050

*New Boutiques, *The Nationals, -Accessories, -Jewelry, -Mens Shoes, -Menswear, -Women's Shoes, -Womenswear, Chicago Boutiques, Gold Coast, Shoes No Comments »

900 N. Michigan, Level 3, (312)944-0040 [ratings]

Goods: Men’s and women’s denim, shoes and accessories. Designers: The store houses thirty women’s denim brands and twenty men’s, including C.R.A.F.T. Denim, Hudson, G-Star, Rebecca Minkoff, House of Harlow, Naked & Famous, Nobody and Grace Sun to name a few. Read the rest of this entry »