A Take a look at Chicago’s Evolving Menswear Scene

The menswear and streetwear scene in Chicago has advanced considerably during the last 20 years.

The town’s menswear, sneakers and streetwear model turned acknowledged globally by shops like House Quantity 9, Leaders 1354, Vogue Geek and Saint Alfred within the early 2000s. These outlets launched a technology of creatives to the style trade, and helped develop neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Bucktown and West Loop as locations away from the town’s touristy Magnificent Mile.

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Leaders 1354, House Quantity 9 and Saint Alfred helped pave the way in which for streetwear retailer Jugrnaut in 2007, and Virgil Abloh and Don C’s RSVP Gallery in 2009 to emerge in Wicker Park and suggest an providing that combined luxurious vogue, streetwear and artwork. Shortly after, high-end boutique Vogue Aesthete would additionally debut within the neighborhood.

Exterior of the town, Chicago’s darling Kanye West grew his vogue profile by collaborations with Louis Vuitton and Nike earlier than coming into right into a monumental partnership with Adidas. Abloh began a fledgling vogue operation referred to as Pyrex Imaginative and prescient as a precursor to his vogue model Off-White on the identical time personalities like Joe Freshgoods had been turning up the amount within the metropolis by product drops and opening boutiques like Fats Tiger Workshop with Terrell “Rello” Jones, Des Owusu and Vic Lloyd.

Though House Quantity 9 closed in 2016, vogue purveyor Notre opened in the identical 12 months, together with vogue and artwork platform Congruent Area, ushering in a brand new period for Chicago’s menswear and streetwear scene.

Then, in 2019, Svrn entered West Loop with an assortment of manufacturers like Vetements, Rhude, Maison Margiela and Rick Owens, the latter of which continues to be out there right this moment in Chicago solely at Svrn.

That exercise began to draw extra gamers to the town.

When NBA All-Star Weekend touched down within the metropolis in 2020, Gucci opened a Chicago pop-up, Goat opened one on the Ace Lodge with an exhibit devoted to Michael Jordan’s basketball profession, and LVMH’s Abloh and Kim Jones participated on a panel for the Jordan Model. The WNBA hosted its All-Star Weekend within the Windy Metropolis in 2022, and NASCAR revealed that its first road race might be held there in July 2023 for the 2023 Cup Sequence.

In regard to vogue, Stadium Items cofounders and co-chief government officers John McPheters and Jed Stiller opened their standalone retailer in Chicago in late 2020 due partly to the town’s heavy affect on sneaker tradition by Michael Jordan, and classic retailer Spherical Two opened within the metropolis the 12 months prior.

There’s extra to come back. Native buzz is that Balenciaga, Supreme and Kith are all trying into opening areas within the metropolis. And whereas not one of the firms would verify their curiosity, the rumors underscore its ongoing affect.

Right here’s a more in-depth have a look at two of the retailers making their mark on the Chicago menswear scene.

Luxurious Vogue Boutique Svrn Unveils Redesign 

Retailer Svrn is getting reacquainted with its residence metropolis.

This month, the posh vogue purveyor will unveil a redesign at its three-year-old retailer at 171 North Aberdeen within the West Loop, which has expanded from 2,900 sq. ft to 4,200 sq. ft. The grand reopening is ready for Sept. 2.

Proprietor David Kim and chief operations officer Adam Pirtle tapped WGNB Architects in Seoul and artistic advisor D.J. Smedley to steer the redesign that started in mid-2021.

Inside the new Svrn 4,200-square-foot store at 171 North Aberdeen in West Loop in Chicago. - Credit: Courtesy

Inside the brand new Svrn 4,200-square-foot retailer at 171 North Aberdeen in West Loop in Chicago. – Credit score: Courtesy


The goal was to have the house inform a narrative of perseverance and endurance and the way these ideas may manifest bodily. The companions regarded to Kim’s Korean roots for the inside design, which options Ottchil wallpaper produced from a Korean strategy of making use of pigmented lacquer, and drew inspiration from Korean artists for the house, together with Lee Ufan, a minimalist painter and sculptor; Do Hu Suh, a sculptor and set up artist, and multidisciplinary artist Kimsooja.

They used pure supplies like volcanic rock (for its capacity to morph) all through the house, and put in a metal wall that takes up about 60 % of the fitting inside aspect. The juxtaposition displays a conflict between nature and expertise additionally seen on the corten metal, which was aged to indicate what nature can do to one thing artificial over time. There’s additionally heat-treated thermowood within the two becoming rooms.

Smedley, Svrn’s lead artistic design advisor, mentioned the seeds had been planted some 40 years in the past by Kim’s mother and father, who operated a magnificence provide retailer that morphed into Dreamtown, a sneaker retailer with doorways on the west aspect of Chicago that’s nonetheless working. Because the model developed, the corporate opened Svrn — pronounced sovereign — in 2019 to sort out the posh multibrand retail market that, on the time, was dominated by boutiques like RSVP Gallery and Notre, amongst others.

Kim has been in retail his complete life, in response to Pirtle, who labored with him on totally different Dreamtown shops. They found they shared a ardour for vogue, tradition and design, and requested themselves: why couldn’t they open their very own retailer?

“I keep in mind going to Paris the primary season, simply displaying up and making an attempt to determine it out,” Pirtle mentioned. The duo attended the spring 2019 reveals in June 2018 and managed to attain the Rick Owens account. Svrn stands as the one Rick Owens account in Chicago, in response to the retailer.

The following huge rating was Marni, Pritle mentioned. “On the time it was fairly tough to promote Marni, but it surely has been one in all our strongest-selling manufacturers. We have now an unique dropping with them this summer season.”

When it opened, Svrn carried Rick Owens, Vetements and Rhude, and later added Maison Margiela. In 2020, throughout NBA All-Star Weekend, the shop partnered with Jordan Model on the launch of girls’s sneakers and attire, serving as an unique launch associate for Sheila Rashid Air Jordan 1 sneakers and the Off-White x Air Jordan V sneaker. The shop additionally hosted activations, panels and reside talks with Jasmine Jordan, daughter of Michael Jordan and consultant for Jordan Model advertising and marketing.

In addition they carry a slew of different luxurious labels together with Dries Van Noten, JW Anderson, Homme Plissé Issey Miyake, Jil Sander and Margiela, together with Korean up to date manufacturers Put up Archive Faction, Xlim, Kanghyuk and Andersson Bell, a number of of which can be found solely in North America and the Midwestern U.S. at Svrn.

When the shop was pressured to shut its doorways in the course of the onset of COVID-19, it allowed them to focus extra on e-commerce.

“After 4 months of being closed, we had been capable of reopen and we began having fairly a little bit of success for our capacity to market the model and attain a brand new buyer base,” Pirtle mentioned.

“I had no expertise with that in the first place, so it was a studying expertise,” mentioned Liam Klancic, head of collaborations and particular tasks for Svrn. He teamed with the net developer to develop the enterprise on-line and create an expertise that’s cohesive with the bodily retailer. Product was uploaded extra seamlessly and the corporate launched an editorial web page with full-length articles.

Svrn remained in enterprise throughout lockdown, however their next-door neighbor, a present store referred to as Satui, didn’t fare as nicely. That closed in late 2020 and Svrn moved to take over the house in early 2021. They started renovations in June 2021, flattening the wall between the areas earlier than increasing their promoting house. They moved to a short lived house on West Lake Road within the West Loop at the beginning of the mission and have now moved again into the North Aberdeen location.

“We had been prioritizing in retailer over e-commerce [before the pandemic] and was a little bit of a actuality examine, but it surely helped the expansion of the enterprise,” Klancic mentioned about shifting on-line throughout lockdown. “It affected our purchasing model. When you’re on-line, you’re competing with everybody. It’s tremendous true to the model and ethos. We was 65 % retailer and 35 % on-line, however now it’s a good break up.”

Inside Congruent Area, Chicago’s Vogue and Artwork Platform

Congruent Area founders Prosper Bambo and Preme opened their boutique in 2016, marrying excessive vogue and streetwear design with considerate artwork.

Bambo was initially a purchaser at one other Chicago boutique, which he declined to call, and contributed to rising that enterprise from three areas to twenty. He opened his personal boutique in 2010 and operated for a few 12 months as nicely earlier than teaming up with Preme, a visible artist and researcher — and briefly a musician — with whom he bounced round concepts for one more retail location. They landed on Congruent Area, a retailer that serves as a platform for younger designers, however with an art-gallery strategy. The identify was initially an equal signal earlier than Preme instructed the phrase “congruent,” for the way it represents issues being related however not similar.

“On the time, a number of our shut mates had been purchasing on Grailed and on-line purchasing,” Bambo mentioned. “So we considered what we may do to deliver folks again to the shop.”

Congruent Space in Chicago. - Credit: Courtesy Photo

Congruent Area in Chicago. – Credit score: Courtesy Photograph

Courtesy Photograph

The West Loop retailer at 1216 West Grand Avenue showcases each younger, rising designers and long-established manufacturers in a two-level retailer with a convertible structure. Just a few manufacturers which were carried embrace Clot, N. Hoolywood, Henrik Vibskov, Feng Chen Wang, Heliot Emil, Bravest Studio and not too long ago, Walter Van Beirendonck, Petrich0r, Renmei and music artist Zhu for his Lollapalooza present.

Another model companions embrace Pleasures, Kristopher Kites, a Chicago jewellery designer who had an set up with Congruent Area, and Joe Freshgoods. In 2017, the latter produced a capsule assortment of hoodies referred to as the Magnificence Provide Assortment that was bought at Congruent Area, remodeling the shop right into a surreal seashore location with palm timber and inexperienced and pink sand. Underneath Armour tapped the boutique for a scavenger hunt in 2019 to advertise the launch of its Forge 96 sneakers.

Wanting ahead, Bambo and Preme goal to make Congruent Area an accessible purchasing expertise for patrons younger and outdated to find manufacturers and likewise study concerning the wholesale shopping for, retail and vogue expertise. The shop purposely doesn’t put value tags on its garments, which sparks dialog from clients about how the wholesale-versus-retail course of works. “We don’t put costs as a result of we wish clients to need the merchandise primarily based on the piece and never the tag,” Preme defined.

Going ahead, the duo hopes to take its present on the highway. They opened a Congruent Area pop-up within the Miami Design District in October 2021, the place they hand-built a grid inside the shop utilizing black electrical tape on concrete flooring with elevated white melamine panels to provide a view of warped flooring and partitions. The house remained within the metropolis by March 2022.

The duo plans to go again to Miami to work with the Mindy Solomon Gallery in January and are contemplating a possible presentation within the Design District in 2023.

“Miami was the hearth starter,” Preme mentioned. “The response in that district was overwhelming. The identical community-building we did right here we did there. We’re at that time now the place it has to broaden.”

Launch Gallery: Luxurious Vogue Boutique SVRN Unveils Redesign in Chicago

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