Pandora For Jeans? ZipFit Denim Zaps Male Shopping Angst

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By Alexandra Delaney

Simplicity is the motto at the newest retail store in The North Bridge shops at 520 North Michigan. At ZipFit Denim, the sleek white tile floors shine under the bright overhead light. The two black tables line up perfectly, one placed several feet in front of the other, each adorned with four iPad tablets evenly spaced along the top. Shelves housing neat piles of jeans—which are folded according to brand, style and size—line one wall of the spacious store.

The minimalistic atmosphere of ZipFit Denim exemplifies the simplified jeans shopping experience the store offers men. Co-founder and CEO Liz Kammel is the brains behind the technology-driven store; she created an iPad app that matches male shoppers with the perfect pair of jeans for their body types and desired fits. Read the rest of this entry »

Consignment Refinement: Luxury Garage Sale Goes Retail

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Brielle Buchberg

On the surface, the consignment industry appears to be reserved for those with deep wallets and even deeper devotion to the brands that make the editorial headlines. Consignment house Luxury Garage Sale caters to these individuals, but is also one of the most accessible shops for the general public with a penchant for the sartorial. With a storefront opening in Old Town, I sought out LGS founders Brielle Buchberg and Lindsay Segal with a few questions about their work, their background and the elusive world of consignment.
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Open For Business: Green Goddess Boutique

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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: AllSaints Spitalfields

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The new AllSaints Spitalfields store on Michigan Avenue may be mistaken for an art gallery, vintage clothing factory, or even a modeling agency. The front of the store boasts 800 vintage Singer sewing machines, harkening back to the roots of the fashion industry. Ruggedly good-looking, stylish men and women greet customers at the entrance. And the entire store is so thoroughly decorated and atmospheric that you just don’t know where to look.

Since it started in the UK in the mid-nineties, AllSaints global expansion has led to ten U.S. standalone stores, a U.S.-specific website, and fourteen concessions in Bloomingdale’s nationwide.

The Chicago flagship store is a continuation of this expansion, and expansion is just the right word for the 11,000-square-foot space. A large glass atrium at the entrance looks as if the Michigan Avenue spot has turned into an industrial European train station. After gazing up at the sewing machines, the interior has a multitude of cinematic spotlights filling the ceilings, and the entire store has a rough, worn-in, distressed feel. Sewing-machine-like hardware and structures grace the floor and many of the whitewashed brick walls, which rise up forty-two feet before hitting the ceiling. The majority of the store’s fixtures are salvaged, and any that aren’t are handmade in the UK. There is a huge projection screen stretching across the entire store. Read the rest of this entry »

Open for Business: Oliver Peoples Boutique

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You might call this news a feast for the eyes: designer eyewear boutique Oliver Peoples opens its newest boutique, in Chicago’s Gold Coast, on July 9.

“Chicago has always been a target city for us to open an Oliver Peoples Boutique,” says David Schulte, CEO. “The city’s rich design, art and architectural heritage, in addition to the sophisticated people who live there, are a perfect match with our brand.” The new store even features a limited-edition frame sold exclusively at the Chicago location—a unisex style with eighteen-carat gold lenses and custom stamping and packaging.

The new Chicago location has similar design to Oliver Peoples boutiques across the nation, but with a couple of hints at Chicago’s culture. Its ash wood and concrete floors give a nod to the brand’s aesthetic: simplistic, sartorial and sexy. The store’s general manager, Chad Lissak, says the store “creates a unique retail experience that is more reminiscent of a contemporary gallery than a typical frame shop.” Lissak has been a part of everything involving the new store, from finding the location to putting the last frame on the shelf.

The boutique experience (as opposed to buying Oliver Peoples at a distributor location) offers the customer a more tailored experience. “Our eyewear stylists are extremely knowledgeable and can offer custom fittings to help you select the perfect frame taking into consideration all of the elements. We have on-site opticians for any and all prescription needs,” Lissak says. (Sarah Alo)

Oliver Peoples, 941 North Rush

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

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

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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 »

Biker Chic: Chrome puts the party into shopping at its new Chicago store

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By Sarah Alo

Paul Wilson, the store manager of the San Francisco store, says there’s no “cool guy” vibe at Chrome, which just opened its third location, in Chicago’s Wicker Park. Most of the staff and many of the customers have tattoos and piercings, but they are just as welcoming to a soccer mom as they are to an inked biker.

“Chicago is an urban city whose culture we identify with as a brand—tough and no-nonsense on the outside, but friendly and welcoming on the inside,” Meghan Litchfield, the head of retail at Chrome, says. “Also, we have a huge fan base in Chicago—we received hundreds of letters and Facebook posts from Chicago fans asking us to open up shop there,” she says.

Chrome has been growing exponentially in the past few years. Though it’s still a small business (twelve people at the San Francisco home office and fifteen in the California factory), the company had half that amount only three years ago.

Litchfield lists three main goals upon opening a Chrome store: support their local dealers, become part of the community and throw raging parties, which they plan to do every third Thursday of the month. Read the rest of this entry »

Open for Business: Atelier

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Go gallery-hopping, buy beautiful clothes, then sip a glass of bubbly and nibble on dessert. Art and fashion at Atelier, then food and wine at Prosecco. “Now we have a one-two punch,” says Kathryn Alvera, co-owner of both Atelier and Prosecco, although it’s really more of a one-two-three-four punch.

Walking into Atelier is like stepping into the closet of a mature but hip art collector/clotheshorse: paintings, photographs and antiques coat the velvet walls and wooden countertops. The clothing is well-organized and dense, but there’s certainly a lot of it (for both men and women), and it ranges from cheap (I eyed a thrifted $10 C&C tank) to bank-breaking (vintage Lanvin, Chanel and Stella McCartney).

Atelier will also be working with legendary tailoring house Cesare Attolini to design custom suits. Alvera says “It’s something of a coup” that the prestigious Neapolitan suit-makers are partnering with her boutique, which opened in April, but she’s convinced the exquisite suits, with prices reaching far upwards of $4,000, will find a niche among sartorial Chicagoans. Read the rest of this entry »

Open for Business: Egoist Underwear

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Some men feel constricted by underwear. Others feel constricted by their underwear choices. Or they have—until now, thanks to the opening of Egoist Underwear, a new Boystown men’s boutique specializing in underthings, swimwear and loungewear from around the globe.

Owner Sylvester Jurczynski, who opened the shop in late June but only recently hosted the store’s “Grand Opening” sale, is unromantic about the store’s genesis. “I hated my job,” he says, “and I saw a niche in this neighborhood.” So far, he says, he’s been right: business is good. While he’s not making the hard-sell—or maybe I’m not the target demographic?—Jurczynski obviously knows his underwear. Read the rest of this entry »