I’ve been writing about fashion for the Reader since 1999, and every now and then I have to remind myself of how things have changed since then. There were just a handful of boutiques stocking independent designers and fashion-forward styles—if you wanted a bigger selection, you had to go to New York. (There weren’t many online shopping sites back then either.) Shopping off Michigan Avenue meant Lincoln Park and Lakeview. Local designers were largely dependent on the dailies, direct mail, and word of mouth for publicity.

Now we have a First Lady who wears pieces by Chicago designer Maria Pinto and relies on local boutique owner Ikram Goldman for styling and advice. The city sponsors an annual fashion week plus year-round events and assembled the Mayor’s Fashion Council to help build up both retail and the local fashion industry. And the shopping . . . well, suffice it to say that clotheshorses have a lot more places to get into trouble with their credit cards.

We’ll no doubt see more store closings than openings in the coming months, and more scaled-down events. But the local scene is still robust, as my bursting inbox can attest. I’ll cover the business and the art of fashion, from new local designers to sales and shows to style as expressed on the street. I’ll also offer commentary on national and international fashion news and highlight online finds.

Fashion affects everyone in one way or another. Retail is a large part of the city’s economy—not to mention a major industry worldwide. And more than that, we all (or most of us, anyway) have to wear clothes every day of our lives. If you believe art and aesthetics are important, as you surely do if you’re a Reader reader, why not the aesthetics of how we choose to present ourselves to the world?