By Alexandra Delaney
It’s that time of year when you don’t want to admit the cold winter is here, but you can’t deny the chill in the air is making it increasingly difficult to text on your phone or fumble through your purse to find your CTA card. We’d all rather walk blissfully through the orange-and-yellow fall foliage than think about digging through our winter closets. (In my case: a plastic storage bin I shoved all of my sweaters into and hid in an attempt to delay winter’s arrival. Think: if I’m not prepared for it, it just can’t be here yet.)
Instead of fighting an inevitable force of nature–winter will be here; there’s no dodging that in Chicago—there is a fun way to embrace the changing seasons. Cold weather doesn’t have to mean dull. There are new twists on blazers that will have you welcoming cool weather with arms wide open, even if it’s just to put your jacket on.
Fall is the season for layers, and blazers are the perfect addition to any outfit. Varying in weight, color and textures, they can achieve multiple looks for any scene. Chicago stylist and fashion expert Amy Salinger believes blazers are a timeless purchase:
“Blazers are a great buy because they are a foundation piece in your wardrobe. If you buy a simple style, you can make it last for years because it will always be stylish. Don’t be scared to spend more money on great blazers because they are a cost-per-wear item. You wear them a lot making them worth the cost.”
Wardrobe and prop stylist Courtney Rust agrees that the key to blazers is that sometimes it’s worth paying a little more. Rust has styled commercials for Audi, Esquire, Nike and Rolling Stone to name a few, and knows the completeness of professional quality. She cautions that cheap fabric doesn’t hang as well on the body and that a good blazer will never go out of style, making it worth the splurge. Read the rest of this entry »
By Alexandra Delaney
Just below street level on the 3400 block of Broadway lies buried treasure. Well, it’s not exactly buried treasure so much as it is “bear”-ied treasure. Chitown Clothing, a pop-up shop located a short stack of steps below the sidewalk in what would be considered a garden apartment, offers a selection of Chicago Bears t-shirts for fans to sport at the game this Sunday. For fans wondering what to wear to the game—or how to show their spirit when they can’t cheer on their team at Solider Field this Sunday—ponder no more.
Chitown Clothing (3435 North Broadway) sells unique, creative t-shirts designed and sold by husband-and-wife team Kevin and Sara Kasarski. The company is a joint effort, drawing from Kevin’s background in fine arts and graphic design and Sara’s in writing and Internet marketing. Kevin’s father also owns a screen-printing company in Carpentersville. What started as a side venture set on the back burner behind the couple’s full-time jobs has become their full-time work in less than three years. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
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 »
By Emily Torem
Two still fresh-on-the-scene streetwear boutiques in the South Loop prove that the Windy City is not just a place for trends to proliferate; it’s where they’re made. Lifestyle store Jugrnaut stocks everything from clothes and accessories to art, hats and action figures, while self-described “sneaker geek and stylist” SuccezZ focuses on providing rare and limited-edition footwear to the shoe-obsessed. Both stores are big supporters of local talent, whether it’s through music, art, style or design.
“There are people who are fashion forward in Chicago that are ahead of the curve, like in Japan, but not that many. It’s a slow process, but we’re getting there,” says Roger Rodriguez, one of the South Loop streetwear shop Jugrnaut’s owners.
The team of four men—Rodriguez, Brian Navado, Manny Rodriguez and Arthur Banks—opened the store in October of 2007 after a previous venture fell through. The four own and operate the shop, as well as their own eponymous brand, which includes hats and shirts with the store’s lightning-bolt logo. The partners emphasize that the store is more than just a retailer of apparel. Read the rest of this entry »
The 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.
In 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, Nike.com and will, of course, be around the race on Sunday.
2708 N. Halsted, (773)327-7782, solemateschicago.com
Goods: Men’s and women’s clothing, sneakers and accessories. Designers: Sir & Madame, Public School, The Brooklyn Circus, Cheap Monday, WeSC, Nike and Air Jordan. Read the rest of this entry »
Every sport has its own fashion culture. Some such cultures are especially indecipherable to non-participants—what’s up with those tight spandex shirts with the Nascar-style designs that bicyclists wear, for example?—while some work their way into the more general fashion realm, fully detached from the athletic pursuit originally intended (think Air Jordans). This week, with the Chicago Marathon bringing 40,000 or so 26.2 milers along with their supporters to the frontline of the city’s consciousness, running gear will have its annual fifteen minutes of fashion focus. For its first-ever sponsorship of the Chicago Marathon, Nike has responded with seventy-five products designed for, or to commemorate, the big day. Some, like finisher t-shirts, will be available only to the select few and will be unveiled at the race, but most can be bought right now at Niketown or Nike.com. A few notable favorites include the twenty-fifth anniversary-edition Pegasus running shoes, which pay homage to the city with “CHI” on the tongue and the city flag on the heel, and the men’s short-sleeve Dri-Fit shirt with a neighborhood map. Dri-Fit, in fact, is one of those “insider” sacred cows to runners, who subscribe to the adage “cotton kills.” Nike’s shirts provide the most variety of marathon memorabilia, including a couple of shirts designed to recognize specific neighborhoods on the route, including Chinatown, mile twenty-one, and Wrigleyville, mile seven. Perhaps the most iconic, though, is the pizza-slice shirt, “Run it Chicago Style,” which perhaps appropriately, is not Dri-Fit. (Brian Hieggelke)
855 W. Belmont, (773)549-1038; 1318 N. Milwaukee, (773)384-8448, belmontarmy.com [ratings]
Goods: New and vintage clothing and shoes for men and women. Designers: Ben Sherman, BB Dakota, Nice Collective, B. Son, Common Projects, Cheap Monday, Fiber & Fellow, Frye, Nike, Converse, Vans, Gravis, New Balance, Shades of Greige, Schmoove, Insight, Levi’s Capital E, Lifetime Collective. Owners: Chang Yoo, Tae Yoo, Tony Lee and Craig Scholla moved the legendary Belmont store over to the West Side when the Brown Line expansion forced the closing of the original location. They’ve reopened on Belmont as well, near the original spot. Vibe: The upstairs stock is completely new, while the vintage goods are in the basement. The clothing (yes, even the vintage) is neatly arranged and the staff is completely hands-off (unless you need them, of course), which makes for a totally no-pressure shopping experience. Price Range: Inexpensive-Expensive. The Look: Trendy hipster upstairs, thrift-store devotee downstairs. The person who shops on both floors has a personal style that is completely their own, and thrives on blending pieces to create a unique look. Shopper’s Perks: Massive amounts of both new and used clothing in one location. Perfect for fashionable friends with dueling shopping styles.
UPDATED OCTOBER 2009
Wicker Park Store
1021 W. Lake, (312)633-4000 [ratings]
Goods: Men’s and women’s footwear; baseball caps, zip-up hoodies and tees. Designers: Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Timberland shoes; Artful Dodger, Levi’s, Akoo and Rich Yung clothing. Owner: Percy Gibson helms this West Side boutique in addition to his North Side sneaker shop, Encore. Price Range: Moderate-Expensive. Vibe: The store is tricked-out bachelor pad meets upscale boutique. The front is filled with high-end footwear displayed like art, a big-screen TV, couches and a well-kept bar waits in back. The Look: Sneaker-head heaven—the walls are even decked out in autographed hip-hop photos. Shopper’s Perks: The store is open until midnight on the weekends, and a party vibe permeates the shop as the night goes on. Also, Self-Conscious is one of five stores in the Midwest to have a quick strike account with Nike, meaning that highly coveted shoes show up out of nowhere.
UPDATED OCTOBER 2009