Chicago Looks: Treasure Hunter

-Vintage, Chicago Looks No Comments »

Liz Eckland

Liz Eckland was photographed by the Logan Square Blue Line station on Milwaukee Avenue. She was on her way to work at a vintage store in Wicker Park.

Do you own a lot of vintage clothing?
Yeah, I have a good mixture of new and used. I really love to collect. I love faux vintage Chanel because of the nostalgic tackiness that was implied at the time, the materials were so cheap! I also love mod pieces. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Robust Resale: Crossroads Trading Co. Expands in Lincoln Park

-Vintage, Lakeview, Lincoln Park No Comments »

A new and improved Crossroads Trading Co. is open for business on the 2700 block of North Clark Street in Lincoln Park.

“The neighborhood is picking up now, and word of mouth about the store has spread. We’ve been in this location for about six years now, and have built a customer base over those years,” says Jessica Blythe, the store manager. “The space next to us had been open for about a year, so we decided to go for it.”

The store purchased that space next door, previously an eyeglasses retailer, knocked down the wall and moved in, nearly doubling their floor space. A more spacious, breathable shopping experience has now replaced the crowded racks and elbow-to-elbow shopping experience that the store used to offer. Read the rest of this entry »

New Wings: Haji Couture Soars Again with Feather Jewelry

-Accessories, Designers No Comments »

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

-Accessories, Gold Coast No Comments »

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: AllSaints Spitalfields

*New Boutiques, *The Nationals, -Menswear, -Womenswear No Comments »

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

*New Boutiques, *The Nationals, -Eyewear No Comments »

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

*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 »