Forget about its khaki-land stigma. Committed to highlighting emerging and international talent, Chicago shopping mingles friendly Midwest charm with fiercely fashion-forward selections from a diverse populous of boutiques. The city's boutiques pack a potent selection of international, undiscovered and emerging talent that makes for an unparalleled shopping experience. Here are a handful of our favorite boutiques!
Koros, 1039 West Lake Street, (between North Carpenter and North Aberdeen streets), 312-738-0155; www.shopkoros.com
This unapologetically sexy and glamorous boutique in Chicago's meatpacking district is a pampering stop-off for shoppers. Owner Kristen Skordilis makes sure her clients are well cared for with robes in the dressing rooms and champagne glasses already filled. Stocking lines from far away and others from close to home such as Bynum & Bang (an ultra-hip, hard-to-find, Chicago designer), Cacharel, Copenhagan's Designer's Remix Collection, and jewelry by Turkish brand, Coracor. The boutique, which recently launched it's e-commerce site, is known for its little dresses, delicate jewelry, and immaculately tailored looks.
Habit, 1951 West Division Street, (between North Damen and North Winchester avenues), 773-342-0093; www.habitchicago.com
The self-titled "design collective" is a well-respected landing space for up-and-coming designers. Carrying lines such as Suzabelle, Karina Cousineau, & She-bible along with jewelry from the nature-inspired Twig and rich leather bags from Que Jiminez, the store offers a breadth of independent pieces. With a heavy focus on local designers, clients count on scoring that one of a kind product, which is what sets Habit apart.
Sisters Maggie and Jennifer Gelber recently opened their airy store in Chicago's meatpacking district to cheers from local shoppers. The spacious, well-lit store with its attentive staff provides one-stop shopping. A great selection of outerwear including Canadian-based Mackage, and Loeffler Randall coats are among the many reasons to visit—as are the basics with a twist from Elizabeth & James and Black Halo. And for guys, the boutique is a treasure trove of independent menswear lines including labels such as Generra and Rogan.
Roslyn, 2035 North Damen Avenue, (between West Dickens and West Armitage avenues) 773- 489-1311; www.roslynboutique.com
The rustic interior of this Bucktown beauty with dark hardwood floors, exposed brick, and scattered antiques beckons shoppers to linger over one of the city's best-edited collections. Owner Roslyn Dulyapaibul carefully handpicks each piece with a balance of established and emerging designers. Her knock-out taste is reflected in labels such as Isaora, Nicholas K, Luxury Jones, and the work of Chicago designer, Elise Bergman, who shoppers can find sewing, cutting and draping in her workspace tucked into the back of the boutique.
Tucked in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, this cozy boutique has a welcoming vibe (as evident from the rotund chaises and champagne made available to shoppers). Aberle is one of the city's best-kept secrets for independent bag, shoe, and jewelry designers of unparalleled quality. Owner Kira Price and manager Joy Koziol stock special leather bags and shoes from designers such as Be&D, Calleen Cordero, and Katherine Kwei, whose amazing Chinese-knotted bags are absolutely drool-worthy. With handmade shoes and boots, charm earrings from JudeFrancis, and Syndney Evan's beaded and pave pieces, the store is brimming with well-cultivated style.
Bonnie & Clyde's, 1751 West Division Street, (between North Wood and North Hermitage avenues), 773-235-2680; www.shopbonnieandclydes.com
This innovative, nouveau-Victorian boutique in Chicago's Wicker Park is known for its edgy aesthetic ranging from refined collections by Project Runway's Jeffrey Sebelia and Christian Siriano, to the rebellious and established Vivienne Westwood and Ivan Grundahl. The shop is a beacon to alternative style and its staff is well-versed in the labels and the sub-pop culture that encircles them.
White Attic, 1842 N. Damen Street, (between W Moffat and W Churchill streets), 773-252-8844; www.thewhiteattic.com
This scrubbed and organized boutique on Chicago's Damen Avenue specializes in refurbished vintage furniture, custom-made lamps, candles and pottery. Each one-of-a-kind piece is hand-selected by owner Terry Ledford, and refinished by a skilled team using environmentally friendly paints and varnishes to breathe new life into vintage pieces. In addition, White Attic's renowned lamp bar allows clients to custom design lamps to achieve an utterly unique home piece.
Lissa on Maxwell, 729 West Maxwell Street, (between South Halsted Street and South Union avenues), 312-563-9470; www.lissaonmaxwell.com
This brilliantly curated shop in Chicago's University Village neighborhood is defined by its aesthetic of juxtapositions. With badass lines such as Rodebjer or Willow next to the delicate collections by Lerario Beatriz and Hengst, Lissa carries one of the city's best collections of little jackets and blazers, including a jaw-dropping black leather number by Grai with the label's signature 'spine' of metal brackets down the back.
Gamma Player, 2035 West Division Street, (between North Hoyne and North Damen avenues), 773-235-0755; www.gammaplayer.com
This boutique in Chicago's Wicker Park is the product of creative powerhouses Yoko Uozumi and Jeff Mills. The husband-and-wife duo also operate the reputed music label, Axis Records. Infusing Gamma Player with musical inferences and an edgy aesthetic, the boutique stands apart as one of the city's most discerning. Items on the racks are usually exclusives from international designers otherwise unavailable stateside, such as Jean-Pierre Braganza, a protégé of Karl Lagerfeld, and Hiroko Ito formerly of Comme des Garcons.
Mulberry & Me, 2019 West Division Street, (between North Hoyne and North Damen avenues), 773-952-7551; www.mulberryandme.com
A warm color palette and friendly conversation with the boutique's owner Jana Zacek all create a vibe akin to hanging out with your best friend who also happens to have a fabulous wardrobe. The boutique carries a blend of wardrobe staples at reasonable prices contrasted by seasonal standouts that are perfect for special occasions. With a focus on cost-per-wear, timelessness, and comfort, Mulberry & Me is must for Chicago shoppers.
Virtu, 2034 N. Damen Avenue, (between W Dickens and W McLean avenues), 773-235-3790; www.virtuchicago.com
This quaint store in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood is brimming with one-of-a-kind must-haves for the home and body. Long-time owner Julie Horowitz-Jackson carries items that are entirely handcrafted by artists who prioritize sustainable resources, high quality, and social responsibility. FSC-certified wood frames created in a centuries-old Italian tradition mingle with custom jewelry by Anne Sportun. The store also carries Chicago design company Snow & Graham, which creates to-die-for letterpress stationery and boldly scented candles.
P.45, 1643 N. Damen Avenue, (between West Wabansia and West North avenues), 773-862-4523; www.p45.com
The stoic exterior of this Bucktown gem ensconces a sophisticated stocklist. Founding partner Tricia Tunstall and junior partner Judy Yin Keller carefully stock their boutique with many hard-to-find emerging designers. The store also stocks such go-to designers as 3.1 Phillip Lim, knitwear by Brochu Walker, and MIH jeans. With a honed radar for talent, (p.45 was one of the first boutiques to pick up Anna Sheffield a whopping 12 years ago), there's always something new and noteworthy at p.45.