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

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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 »

DNA 2050

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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 »


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1355 S. Michigan, (312)353-2300 [ratings]

Goods: Men’s apparel, shoes and accessories. Designers: Michael Westley, Rivet de Cru, X-Ray Denim, Civil Society and Report Collection. Read the rest of this entry »

The New School of Old School Running

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Chi_Mar_09_2_Wmns_Pink_SS__031The Chicago Marathon is a serious business, and its apparel is no exception. For the second straight year, Nike is producing all of the offical fashion and  footwear for the event, with a product line targeted at runners, their friends and general Chicago fans. Last year, Nike offered up a series of looks largely consistent with its clean, forward-looking Nike Running line, but for this year, the label’s designers endeavored to create a collection more internally unified and one that reflects their take on the Chicago aesthetic. The result is surprisingly retro-looking, with vintage typography and imagery, like the merch that might have been created for the 1976 marathon, if they had Dri-Fit then, or a Chicago marathon for that matter (the current race started the next year).  Note, for example, the font-crazy Chicago map that adorns several of their shirts, or the groovy “Love, American Style” vibe captured in one of the women’s shirts.

Chicago_Marathon_09_Lunar_Glide_1284In the footwear category, Nike’s also launching a line of shoes designed in homage to various major world marathons (Amsterdam, Beijing, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, London, New York, Rio—Rio!—San Francisco, Tokyo), with Chicago getting a smart-looking coal black Lunar Glide variation with baby blue highlights and elements taken from the Chicago flag. It’s almost enough to convert shoe destroyers (runners) into sneaker collectors. (Brian Hieggelke)

Official Chicago Marathon apparel is available now at local running stores, Niketown, and will, of course, be around the race on Sunday.

Shoe of the Week: Charlyle Boots

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golden_goose_bootsThe madly stylish Charlyle Boot tops our list this week, because its pre-distressed leather is the perfect camo for hideous salt stains. This pair is proof that practical and stylish is not a mutually exclusive concept. We know, we know… the price tag is insanely expensive at $1,164, but a boot that can survive a Chicago winter and still look good is, well, priceless. The Charlyle Boot by Golden Goose is available at (Kari Skaflen)

Shoe of the Week: Mansfield

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With a flared 3.5” heel, John Fluevog Shoes says this is “perfect for librarians who want to be naughty, and for vixens who wish to be nice.” Store manager Leigh Anne’s favorite, $255.

At John Fluevog Shoes, 1539-41 N. Milwaukee, (773)772-1983