Clearly, Robert McMillan is not trying to make a quick buck. After leaving a more lucrative (yet less personally fulfilling) job in trading, he established Dearborn Denim in 2016.
“It was exciting to build an apparel manufacturer from the ground up. I had a bunch of old, beat-up sewing machines in an abandoned laundry and an idea that we could ethically manufacture great jeans right here in Chicago and sell them directly to customers. Since then, we have upgraded our plant to a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and are moving into our new factory in a couple of months,” says the 38-year-old entrepreneur, who currently employs 40 people. After closing a few stores during the COVID-19 pandemic and facing other challenges with the business, Dearborn Denim still keeps going strong. “Our store in Andersonville does amazing. I believe we will start expanding our retail footprint again in 2024,” McMillan says.
Dearborn Denim offers great options in men’s jeans at surprisingly affordable prices ($75-$120) for a product made locally with premium materials. It also offers quality sweatsuits, hoodies, and leather accessories—among other products. Special mention to the beautiful women’s high-waisted palazzo denim pants ($98). “We are expanding our women’s line this spring and moving towards releasing seasonal collections, rather than only providing evergreen products. We want to build the largest apparel manufacturer in the USA to provide ethical and affordable apparel options for customers looking to buy American. This city needs good stable jobs, and I think building a manufacturer is a great way to do that, as long as we get continued support from our customers,” McMillan says.
best of chicago: buy local
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