Sized Up: Stephanie Sack and Ten Years of Vive La Femme

-Womenswear, Bucktown, Events/Exhibitions, Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village No Comments »

“Life is hard. Shopping should not be.”

These are the wise words of the impeccably dressed Stephanie Sack, owner of two Bucktown boutiques, Vive La Femme and Violette. The former is a clothing shop for ladies sizes 12-24 and the latter a women’s shoe shop for sizes 7-11.  The stores are run by Stephanie and full-time manager Amanda Johanson who also designs a Vive La Femme clothing line. Vive La Femme is celebrating its tenth anniversary, an accomplishment for a small business in the current economic climate.

“It feels pretty amazing. And I think I’m just very stubborn,” Sack says. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Foot Strikes Back: Stephanie Sack puts some kick into her plus-size wonderland with Violette shoes

*New Boutiques, -Women's Shoes, Bucktown No Comments »

Stephanie Sack

By Sarah Alo

Like many women, I love shoes. But like many, I have trouble finding a pair that satisfies the quadruple whammy of shoe needs: comfort, style, affordability and—most importantly—availability. Especially for us women of substantial foot size, it’s rare that a store carries larger offerings, let alone in the sale section. But let us all rejoice: Bucktown’s new boutique Violette, 2031 North Damen, offers all that and more.

Owner Stephanie Sack says she has had a fantastic response since her opening at the end of May, in part because customers from her plus-size clothing boutique, Vive la Femme, have been pleading for shoes.

Violette only carries shoe sizes 7-12, and specifically stocks up on larger sizes. “I’ve been finding clothes that didn’t exist for nine years, so I knew I could find shoes too,” Sack says. She feigns outrage at the thought of carrying smaller sizes. “I don’t open a business to ape what others do, I open a business to set the standard.”

Over the years at Vive la Femme, Sack’s heard regular customer requests for lingerie, wedding and shoes; she found shoes to be the most democratic. “Vive is for the stylish women of size in Chicago, and Violette is for the stylish women of Chicago,” Sack declares. Read the rest of this entry »

Open for Business: Kathryn Kerrigan

*New Boutiques, -Women's Shoes, Bucktown No Comments »

At first glance, Kathryn Kerrigan seems like just another tempting shoe store in Bucktown. However, once you step past the all-glass storefront you’ll notice that the boutique is a bit grander than all the others. Literally, bigger is better at Kathryn Kerrigan; the store only carries shoe sizes 9-13.

Have you ever noticed how, at a sample sale, all the frenzied women are battling for the size sevens, eights and nines while it’s all calm and collected in the size-twelve aisle? Although the majority of women do wear sizes seven-to-nine, as the new store’s owner Stephanie Sack puts it: “women of size are an underappreciated and overlooked market.” And Sack is capitalizing on this notion. Read the rest of this entry »

Open for Business: Nike + Saint Alfred

*New Boutiques, *The Nationals, -Mens Shoes, -Menswear, -Streetwear, -Women's Shoes, -Womenswear, Bucktown No Comments »

It’s Friday night and the sounds flowing off the DJ’s decks easily drown out the traffic outside the doors on Milwaukee Avenue. But the noise doesn’t seem to faze the boisterous crowd of sneaker heads, hipsters, bloggers and beauty queens gathered within, checking out the new wares and, of course, each other. Just like another shoe-release shindig for the St. Alfred’s regulars, perhaps, but we’re a long way from Niketown,  tiger. This is Nike+St. Alfred’s coming-out party.

The global shoe giant and the Chicago sneaker mecca have teamed up in a promising retail collaboration that’s taken over the Hejfina space next door to Saint Alfred’s storefront on Milwaukee Avenue, starting this Thursday, and lasting through this summer’s World Cup, at the least. The pop-up shop offers selective Nike sportswear, most notably its licensed soccer gear from competing countries, Saint Alfred x Nike Co-Lab pieces and exclusive artist collaborations. Read the rest of this entry »

Personal Privilege

*New Boutiques, -Accessories, -Menswear, -Womenswear, Bucktown No Comments »

P70803792145 N. Damen, (773)727-9846,, [ratings]

Goods: Trendy casual clothing and accessories for men and women. Owner: Celebrity stylist Tracy Lemke has created her own store, Personal Privilege, and she promises to dress you the way she’s dressed athletic superstars like White Sox player Octavio Dotel, Lakers player Shannon Brown and Cubs player Carlos Marmol. Read the rest of this entry »

Open for Business: Personal Privilege

*New Boutiques, -Menswear, -Womenswear, Bucktown 1 Comment »

p7080380If you want to look like a star when you party, then Tracy Lemke might be able to help you out. The former celebrity stylist has created her own store, Personal Privilege, and she promises to dress you the way she’s dressed athletic superstars like White Sox player Octavio Dotel, Lakers player Shannon Brown and Cubs player Carlos Marmol. With a selection of flashy, funky clothes for the club scene and more conservative, classy clothes for everyday, Lemke’s collection has a mix of styles that she claims can suit every personality and every occasion with brand names like J Steger that she says are hard to find anywhere else. Lemke declares that it is her mission to give customers a special shopping experience, where they can get everything they want with a personal touch. “The reason we call this store Personal Privilege is that I want to personally help customers put a whole wardrobe together, and give them a more personal experience than they can get at other places,” Lemke explains. Read the rest of this entry »

Dream Angel: The inspirations of iconic shoe designer John Fluevog

-Mens Shoes, -Women's Shoes, Bucktown, Designers, Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village No Comments »

fluevog3By Marla Seidell

John Fluevog has angels on the soles of his shoes.

Urban Angels, that’s the name of this particular mid-calf boot, which like the Fluevog stores, hit their twentieth anniversary this year. In addition to the angels stenciled on the soles, there’s a personal message from Fluevog inscribed: “Resist all things, including Satan.” Soles are made from biodegradable Hevea tree latex soles. “Really comfy,” notes Fluevog.

Judging from his rock-star appearance—dark blue denim, a red, white and blue button-shirt with a pattern of stars at the center, tousled strawberry-blond hair, Prada sunglasses on top of head, and a thin line of white goatee on his chin—you wouldn’t think that Fluevog, designer and creator of cult-status funky shoes since the mid-eighties, is the kind of guy to stamp spiritual phrases and angels on his products. Read the rest of this entry »

G-Star Raw

*The Nationals, -Menswear, -Womenswear, Bucktown, Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village No Comments »

1525 N. Milwaukee, (773)342-2623, [ratings]
Goods: Menswear, womenswear and accessories. Designer: G-Star Raw Owner: New York-based Denimwall Inc. operates the New York, Boston, Miami  and Chicago stores of this European brand. Read the rest of this entry »

John Fluevog Shoes

*The Nationals, -Mens Shoes, -Women's Shoes, Bucktown, Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village No Comments »

1539-41 N. Milwaukee, (773)772-1983,
Goods: Men’s and women’s shoes Designer: John Fluevog Owner: The Vancouver-based designer John Fluevog has a handful of stores in North America. Read the rest of this entry »

Crossroads Trading Co.

*The Nationals, -Accessories, -Mens Shoes, -Menswear, -Women's Shoes, -Womenswear, Bucktown, Evanston, Lincoln Park No Comments »

1519 N. Milwaukee, (773)227-5300, 2711 N. Clark, (773)296-1000, 1730 Sherman, Evanston, (847)492-9400
Goods: Men’s and women’s gently used apparel, shoes and accessories. Designers: Marc Jacobs, Diesel, Express, Nine West, etc.—the stores stock all types of brands, as long as they’re contemporary and in good shape. Read the rest of this entry »