Chicago has a great music scene and a great theater scene; our comedy scene is like a Saturday Night Live farm. In the culinary department lately, the eyes of the world are on us. And hey, if you believe the sloganeers at the Chicago International Film Festival, we’re the Film Capital of the World. But no one has ever even pretended that we’re anywhere near the cutting edge when it comes to fashion.

But the city’s full of people who are ready to take us there, people working around the lack of infrastructure and in spite of the inattentive national fashion press. This usually quiet activity has bubbled to the surface recently, as Mayor Daley announced the first-ever city-sponsored fashion event, the 11-day Fashion Focus Chicago. The Apparel Industry Board launched an eight-week seminar series on business savvy in fashion design and sponsored a two-day high-end fabric and trim sale. The Chicago Fashion Foundation hosted two discussions on the importance of color. Marshall Field’s threw a cluster of parties, including the grand opening of a temporary in-house boutique featuring Chicago designers. And Gen Art capped things off with its annual Fresh Faces fashion show, a ritzy runway soiree featuring six local designers, all of whom are featured in this issue. A slew of other designers–some students, an instructor, a boutique owner, two artists who work out of their homes–took advantage of the spotlight to throw their own runway shows at venues like Sonotheque, Open End Gallery, and the Block Museum of Art.

In this issue we’re highlighting clothing and accessories designers who live, work, and sell their wares in town–some of them even run the shops. If you want to see their designs in person, consult our handy list of the stores that carry their wares (page 28)–or check the List on the cover of Section 2 to see where some of them will be showcasing their stuff this week. –Liz Armstrong

SYNDROME | With racks of clothing under track lighting in the front and a computer station in the back, the main room of Syndrome’s basement-level headquarters has a bat-cave vibe, like if you pulled a lever a wall would open up and reveal a factory full of busy Oompa Loompas.

In fact there is a back room, stocked with a dozen or so sewing machines, a screen-printing station, and rolls upon rolls and stacks upon stacks of folded-up fabric. They need it all on-site: if Syndrome proprietor Luke Cho and right-hand man Adam Rajcevich want something done, they do it themselves, from concept to sample. (Production is outsourced to a local company.)

Each collection–they do two a year–has at least 60 extremely detailed original pieces, plus a few dozen T-shirts bearing graphic designs by local artists Cody Hudson, Kelly Breslin, and Ray Nolan. Cho and Rajcevich rarely make patterns from the ground up anymore, instead selecting from the 400 they have on file, tweaking a seam or a collar, and then plugging in fabrics, buttons, snaps, zippers, patches, linings, and the other particulars that make each item unique. Last year’s outerwear jacket, for example, got epaulets and a deeper pocket. The best thing about Syndrome is this focus on details: buttons sewn on by hand, a slightly offset zipper, perfectly placed unfinished seams, and impeccable printing in water-based ink, “so it breathes better,” says Cho. Even the insides of the garments are totally thought-out, with contrasting or complementary linings and piping.

The hip, low-key men’s label combines aspects of military uniforms, fatigues, and skatewear and isn’t afraid to get a little femme: flower prints and polka dots show up quite often, as does the color pink. A supersoft blue-gray hoodie is printed with a cable-knit pattern just like grandma used to make, and hearts and clouds have appeared on jackets. Each season Cho and Rajcevich start off with a theme–a current event, usually political–and then travel extensively for fabrics and notions. They do their own dyeing with plain old Rit.

Cho isn’t a trained fashion designer; he studied medical illustration at UIC. While in school he worked in retail and ended up thinking, “I might one day like to be involved in this.” In 1990 he opened his own shop, Black Moon, where he designed everything he sold. He made only four of each item, and once they were gone, they were gone. His customers were mostly local celebrities–among them Billy Corgan–but they were few and far between. “I didn’t have a lot of customers willing to shell out $400 for a shirt,” he says. “I lost a lot of money.”

He closed Black Moon in 1994 and opened Untitled in a nearby storefront. For nearly a decade he bought clothes wholesale, like the typical retail operator, but in the fall of 2000, dissatisfied with what was out there, he tried his hand at designing again, making a few pairs of men’s pants that he hung in the back of the store. They flew off the racks, so he also did some shirts. Those were just as successful.

The next season he decided to just go for it: he enlisted Rajcevich, who was managing the store, and they officially started Syndrome as a T-shirt company. By fall 2001 they had expanded to a full cut-and-sew line. They now move about 60,000 items a year.

Cho says 90 percent of their sales go overseas, mostly to Japan, but what costs $100 here costs $400 there. “Someone’s making money,” he says, “and it’s not us.” Syndrome’s expanding rapidly in the U.S., Cho says, but they’re not yet able to meet demand. “We try to design in a certain way to take up less sewing and printing time so we save money,” he says, “but the cost of production is still too high. I’m afraid I might have to go overseas for production.”

For now, he says, “luckily there are customers who appreciate goods made in the USA, even if it costs a few dollars extra. There’s a certain value in that. We have ‘Made in Chicago USA’ on all our labels. We’ll do everything we can to stay.” LA | Untitled, Penelope’s

BRUISER | Designing clothing, says Shirley Novak, is “almost like making costumes for moods.” Her cheeky Bruiser label has strong themes and expressive signature pieces–the fall/winter 2004 line, Urban Piracy, for example, included a floaty chiffon “pirate ghost dress” with a silver-sequin applique anchor. Last season, a dark teal “Frankenstein coat” had a puffy applique heart on the front and lungs on the back, a gold-and-pink tulle overlay, and bright orange whipstitching on unfinished seams. Like many of her items, it snaps up the sides, engineered for ease. Every piece in her current line, Correspondent, was designed so she could ride her bike in it, including long, stretchy cotton twill cropped pants with pin-tucked seams. Her versatile chiffon “karate shirt” has a waist sash and a long slit that can be worn in back or front; her “flexible jumpsuit,” made from heavy stretch jersey, comes with flirty short shorts and can be worn long like a dress or scrunched up around the waist for a sassier look. “You get to make the final call on what kind of thing it is,” she says. LA | Penelope’s

DI-O | Who knows what kind of climate you’d wear an open-backed sweater vest in, but if you find yourself there, poet and performance artist Dionne “Brownskin” Fraser-Carter and Underground Railroad rapper Nicole Howell–together the crochet team DI-O–have just the thing. Their soft, springy creations include hot pants, jumpsuits, bridal gowns, and bikini, halter, and tube tops, plus designs that can’t be categorized, like a one-armed tunic that looks like a shapeless tablecloth from the front and a slutty little top from the back or a one-legged pantsuit with a midriff-baring short-sleeved keyhole sweater and matching armbands. Fraser-Carter and Howell go nuts with weaves and colors, mixing lattice, lace, flowers, and ribbing with camo prints and blocks of color that begin to lose shape and symmetry toward the bottom of a garment. But they occasionally depart from the freaky to create fine, durable, wearable shawls and shrugs. LA | Habit

ESKELL | An Eskell garment might contain a scrap from an Andersonville thrift store, a strip of a 1920s kimono, or a lacy tablecloth from Kelly Whitesell’s grandmother’s dining room table. Whitesell and her designing partner, Elizabeth Del Castillo, have both been collecting bits and pieces of material for years, not quite knowing where they’d end up. Now they integrate them into their designs, which mold a boho-ethnic aesthetic into sleek, sexy silhouettes. They cut designs out of patterned fabrics and lay them over contrasting material: on one straight miniskirt, tie-dyed blue satin peeks out like the sky between the scalloped, cloudlike edges of a rose-and-white tapestry. Delicate lace forms billowy sleeves and crocheted trim becomes a neckline on a dress with alternating panels of Ultrasuede and what Whitesell and Del Castillo call “imitation kimono” material they picked up at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

High school acquaintances in Gary, Indiana, the women became good friends while studying fashion design at Indiana University. Del Castillo came to Chicago and last year Whitesell returned from New York, where she got an associate’s degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology, so they could partner up. They now have their own Lincoln Park boutique, which also features lines by other up-and-coming designers. HK | Eskell

ORLANDO ESPINOZA | Orlando Espinoza likes to see women slim, elegant, a bit formal, and in muted colors, especially black. Though many of his designs seem prim from a distance, up close you can see that he’s kind of a perv: a modest long-sleeved top with a rounded ruched panel has a teeny slit at the sternum; a flat-front skirt cut on the bias gathers slightly at the coochie; a tank dress looks rather conventional from the front, but the back is open down to there. LA | Chicago Designer Shop at Marshall Field’s, Jake

SHANE GABIER | Shane Gabier has always taken a pointedly contemporary approach to designing his meticulously constructed garments. But his fall line, with its massive blanketlike wraps in saturated burnt sienna and vibrant pinks, was inspired by a visit to the Field Museum’s Native American collections. “Looking at what was here before Chicago made me reexamine what’s been left behind,” he says. His upcoming spring collection evokes Edwardian parlor games, but with an unexpectedly voluptuous slant. Gabier’s blossoming ornamental sensibility is manifest in details like pictures of cut-jet bracelets printed on the cuffs of a blouse or the dark cotton gauze delineating a seam. Prim pin tucks cascade down the bodice of a dress unanchored by a traditional yoke, and a sinuous arch of sateen frames the shoulder blades on a jacket, creating clefts that invite one to slip a hand inside. KS | P.45

JACKIE KILMER | The spheres of fashion design and catfishing intersect at exactly one point: Jackie Kilmer, the designer also known as Mississippi Jackie Hurt. She was an early adopter of the vintage reconstruction aesthetic–at one point she called herself Dirdy Bunnie and worked in torn-up sweaters and kids’ sheets. As popular taste caught up with the trend, Kilmer bailed on it, moving back to her hometown of Omaha for eight months to listen to folk, blues, and the Beach Boys and to catch catfish. “I caught and killed my birthday dinner,” she says proudly. Returning to Chicago, she found the demand for her sweaters as high as ever, but began working instead in a style that lifts elements from further back in time. “I’m making skirts, woolen knickers, chaps made from sweaters,” she says. “I’m messing around with old-man flannels, the real crusty kind from the 70s. They’re real itchy and hard to work with.” There are also gunless cowhide holsters (Kilmer’s best-selling item) and cowhide cuffs that look like insane-asylum restraints. MR | Una Mae’s Freak Boutique

LARA MILLER | Each piece in Miller’s knitwear line can be entered from multiple openings, giving a simple pullover numerous fits and looks. The Chicago-born designer likes to play with “the way geometric forms are transformed by the body,” but she also harbors larger ambitions. “If I can get people to think differently about something as regimented as how they get into their clothes,” she says, “maybe they can open up their minds to other things as well.” KS | Ananas, Chicago Designer Shop at Marshall Field’s, P.45

KENT NIELSEN | Everyone’s got a picture of their grandpa from back when, all turned out in a suit and tie for a date or a job or a wedding, and he looks just awesome. That’s because every guy looks ten times better in a suit, and “back when”–let’s say from the mid-40s to the mid-60s–was the golden age of men’s suits. Nielsen’s designs work within the suits-and-shirts repertoire of the classic haberdasher, with subtle tweaks to remind us that we’re in the here and now. The slim, tailored lines of his jackets and shirts are all postwar urbanity, but not even the most fashion-forward men of the time could handle one of his overblown pink-on-pink paisley ties. The 21st-century dude may be unprepared for the return of the cummerbund, but, just in case, Nielsen makes those too. MR | Bynum & Bang, Chicago Designer Shop at Marshall Field’s, Jake, Tessuti

KELLY PASEK | “I decided I’m going to reinvent the fanny pack,” says Pasek. “People shouldn’t be so afraid of them.” More like belts than sport-utility items, Pasek’s “hip huggers,” as she calls them, are flat envelopes or Friar Tuck-esque drawstring pouches made of glitzy upholstery fabric or sturdy cotton twill and attached to matching thin belts. Pasek, who worked at P.45 for four and a half years and is currently employed as a preschool teacher, is best known for her sweet, handmade stretch jersey dresses trimmed with lace and topped with crepe-back satin bows. She plans to butch it up a little for fall and winter, making formfitting jersey jumpsuits appliqued with men’s ties. Since she’s doing her own sewing in her Humboldt Park apartment and many of her pieces are one of a kind, she isn’t producing the kind of volume she’d like to, so in January she plans to outsource production and design clothes full-time. LA | P.45

PEELOUT | Sarah Staskauskas is busy: she co-owned the now-defunct vintage boutique Hot Damn, fronts bands (the Camaro Rouge), tends bar (the Hideout), paints houses, and raised a son solo for more than a decade. For 25 years, through all of this, she’s been designing clothes, though till recently her distinctive wares were available only to friends and acquaintances. In 2000 she launched her label, Peelout, an appealing amalgam of glamour and punk. One of her most successful lines so far has been “body bags,” purses appliqued with stylized leather viscera. Staskauskas is also doing one-of-a-kind sheer dresses sewed from squares of hosiery, 1940s-inspired high-waisted pants and shorts, and the Zipperall, a body-conscious quilted-cotton snowsuit for grown women, with gathered cuffs to keep out the Chicago winds. KS |

DORIS RUTH | Allie Adams’s line of vintage-inspired clothing, named after her grandmother, is two and a half years old, but Adams didn’t quit her full-time job as a writer for a brokerage firm until this past August. Nights, weekends, and perhaps the occasional hour of company time were devoted to her collections, full-on feminine clothes informed by the hourglass silhouette of the 1950s. There are poofy silk skirts draped and swagged to show off an underskirt, fitted jackets of luxuriously soft velvet fastened with a single rhinestone-encrusted button, and elegant, wide-legged tuxedo pants in violet and burgundy as well as the usual black.

A onetime competitive figure skater, Adams got her start designing her own crystal-studded costumes. She loves the elaborate beading and lace of wedding dresses and confesses to still having a stash of bridal magazines three years after her own wedding. But for everyday dressing, she admits that she’s rarely togged out in a complete outfit, preferring to pair her own pieces with a tank top and jeans. HK | Red Head Boutique

KATRIN SCHNABL | People are asymmetrical, says Katrin Schnabl, and that’s why her clothes tend to have uneven hems and diagonal draping; one shoulder of a jersey knit top hangs lower than the other so the fabric ripples across the body. Many of her pieces are also inside-out or back-to-front reversible, like a black shirt with three-quarter-length sleeves and a pink lining or a top called the Torque, made of a single piece of silk charmeuse crisscrossed across the back (or front). Last year Schnabl, who was born in Germany and lived in New York for 17 years, holding down gigs as a designer, illustrator, and product manager, was offered a job teaching fashion design, construction, and illustration at the School of the Art Institute. She picked up and moved to East Ukrainian Village. “I was really ready to leave New York–the space pressure, the time pressure, the life pressure,” she says. “I didn’t want to get old there.” HK | Sara Jane

MICHELLE TAN | Michelle Tan, who’s in dozens of high-end boutiques in New York and California but only one in Chicago, is generally right in step with whatever’s going on–she did the boho gypsy thing for the last couple seasons, just like everyone else–but she’s gotten a little bolder with her forthcoming 2006 spring/summer line, opening up Victorian-inspired shapes–peplum waists but wide-open necklines, puff sleeves but open-slit elbows–and shortening the petticoat to just above the knee, decorating it with hankie-esque appliques the color of buttered popcorn. LA | Chicago Designer Shop at Marshall Field’s, P.45

WEFT BY JILLIAN GRYZLAK | Recent Art Institute grad Gryzlak says her favorite part of designing is the “process of play”–when her mind gets snagged by something and she immerses herself in researching it. A recent collection was inspired by male bowerbirds, native to Australia and New Guinea, which build elaborately decorated dwellings to attract mates. Torn-looking strips of fabric sewn onto the front of a jacket mimic the arched structures the birds build out of twigs and grass, and hanging buttons suggest the birds’ collections of colorful found objects. A pair of quilted men’s pants bears patterns, reminiscent of aboriginal paintings, that show “X-ray” views of animals. Gryzlak’s clothes look worn, in both senses, with frayed edges and bulging pockets; she’s been known to toast items on her heater and whittle her own buttons. “Something stark and new doesn’t fit with what I’m doing right now,” she says. HK | Penelope’s

TOM BYNUM | Tom Bynum says he’s trying to start an “ant epidemic” with his men’s clothing line, Bynum & Bang. The insects are hand-painted on the linings of his jackets; painted ants adorned with black crystals crawl up the leg of a pair of jeans; plain printed critters march down the arm of a long-sleeved T-shirt. “They’re driven,” he says. “They’re the most organized creature that exists.”

Bynum, a songwriter and former inspirational speaker, doesn’t have any formal design training. He says he was always a snappy dresser, and he remembers his father always having suits, shirts, and shoes custom-made. He started Bynum & Bang in May 2004 (with a partner who’s since left), after a few years traveling around the world to meet with manufacturers, check out textiles, and talk to other designers.

At his Division Street boutique and showroom he’s currently got classic jackets and pants in black and gray, with English details like side vents and slant pockets, plus casual pieces like a breezy short-sleeved shirt in a beautiful blue flower print and a tissue-thin orange cashmere sweater. “Fabric almost tells me what it wants to be,” he says. He buys up patterns that are “too beautiful to leave at the mill” and has had vintage fabric re-created. Every man, he says firmly, should have a good suit made out of quality wool, and none of this polyester-lining business–Bynum’s linings are all silk charmeuse.

Then there are the knickers, the cropped double-breasted jackets, and the white, belted leather vests. “Every now and then I get splashy,” Bynum says, holding out a black shirt with an attached vest that ties in back. “We’re rock ‘n’ roll meets Paris.”

“I want to design clothes that flirt with you,” he says. “It should whisper to you–psst. And if you don’t buy it, you’re figuring out ways to buy it.” HK | Bynum & Bang, Chicago Designer Shop at Marshall Field’s

ROBIN RICHMAN | Veteran designer Robin Richman reopened her eponymous Bucktown boutique in late September, to the relief of her dedicated fans–after a mind-blowing sale in June, she’d closed for most of the summer to remodel and add a men’s department. The store, which began as a showcase for her innovative hand-knit garments, has grown into a showcase and workshop for other couturiers as well. Her own fall line, in a light, warm blend of wool and slubby silk, includes an ingenious pair of sweater sleeves, connected across the upper back, in stripes of variegated brick red; it’s cozier than arm warmers alone but more interesting than a shrug. And for men she’s got simple pullovers with intarsia color fields in eggplant, charcoal, and pale green; the irregularities in the hand-dyed fibers lend the Rothko-like forms depth and texture.

Richman’s store is a design feat in itself. She worked closely on the expansion and renovation with architect Julie Florh, whom she first encountered as a customer. “She bought one of the quirkiest pieces I’ve had–a great Gary Graham winter coat–and we just built a relationship from there. When I decided to redesign the store, I thought immediately of her.” Florh’s floor plan opens the shop up despite the substantial increase in inventory, and her lighting scheme is a smartly functional mix of warm and cool; exposed fluorescent tubes contrast with the diffuse glow from vintage French porthole lamps. Sculptural steel frames by Florh suspend panels of linen to create cabanalike dressing rooms.

Richman has retooled her collections, dropping some lines and buying deeper groups of others. Hussein Chalayan, Antipast, Rozae Nichols, and the Belgian line Just in Case are all well represented. Her choices tend to be sophisticated but spirited. “I just have a different taste than what I see out there,” says Richman. “There are so many stores now selling T-shirts and jeans, and I just want to keep my focus on what I like.” But there are great casual items too: soft T-shirts with daydream imagery from Kiyomi Kimball, who manages the menswear department, as well as Hannoh knits reminiscent of 1920s Chanel sportswear. Another Richman protegee, Tania Bowers, back from her native Australia for a stint as in-house accessory designer, is offering a series of brooches, mysterious insect forms mummified in silk and metallic threads. In footwear, classical forms are fine-tuned for currency, from Chie Mihara’s elegant flats and boots in sumptuous deep-grained leather to Marsell’s metallic slate wing tips.

The new menswear collection is of a piece with the women’s, both in its attention to inventive construction and in its stable of designers, which includes Hannoh and James Coviello. The shop is also carrying Walter Van Beirendonck’s entire line, only the second shop in the U.S. to do so. Van Beirendonck’s hats embody his absurdist sense of humor: a lumberjack’s hat is fashioned of carpet, a woolen flight cap has a contrasting yarn fauxhawk. A man with quieter tastes might prefer Marc Le Bihan’s handsome black wool peacoat, with its imaginative cut and patinated gunmetal tanks at the lapels. Men’s accessories are anchored by Brussels’s surreal haberdasher Christophe Coppens. Buttery suede gloves are tipped in glossy black leather, as if they’d been dipped in shiny paint, and belts are buckled by patinated brass castings of facial features. Richman also offers vintage Halliburton luggage, velvet bow ties, and Jas-MB bags in cracked or chalk-stripe-patterned leather, all of which are just as likely to be snapped up by female customers.

Richman says the expansion isn’t just about business–she’s got other motives as well. “I love the way men dress in Europe and New York, and you just don’t see that here,” she says. “I want to see men express themselves in a different way.” KS | Robin Richman


JILL ALBERTS | American politics teacher turned jewelry designer Jill Alberts threads twinkly faceted gold beads into mesh and delicate lace patterns that appear to unravel at the edges. Though she also scavenges the good parts from vintage to create pretty/tough one-of-a-kind pieces, her ruffly lariats, double-helix earrings, and spiderweb bracelets are most distinctive. LA | Chicago Designer Shop at Marshall Field’s, Helen Yi, Material Possessions

LEE ALLISON | Novelty ties used to be tacky polyester things with drawings of pizza or scenes from Star Wars on them, and that was fine, because novelty ties were solely for that one wacky guy in sales. Then the dot-com revolution made it OK for management to be goofy, so now there are things like Lee Allison’s finely crafted ties with skull and cigar motifs rendered in custom-woven silk from England–simultaneously whimsical and elitist. Allison also makes vests and shirts in more sober designs. LA | Apartment No. 9, Shirts on Sheffield, Tessuti, Truefitt & Hill, W Hotel Gift Shop

BOCUE | The proportions of Theresa Buffo’s colorful, geometric handmade bags are a little off by design: an asymmetrical elongated crescent gives way to a blocky trunk, a dainty fold-over flap protects a wide mouth, perky handles perch on exaggerated saddle shapes. They’re made primarily from the kind of sturdy but forgiving leather that looks better the more it gets beat up, though velvet, corduroy, and chenille make guest appearances. LA | Chicago Designer Shop at Marshall Field’s, Shebang, Spare Parts

GILLION CARRARA | As a professor at the School of the Art Institute and director of its Fashion Resource Center, Carrara has been grooming young designers for almost 20 years. Her own jewelry designs are simple architectural forms that let the materials–silver or bronze adorned with burnished horn, bone, briar root, and ebony–speak for themselves in classic modernist style. KS | Hejfina

MERA NAAM | April Krieger, who grew up near Devon Avenue, collects vintage beads and semiprecious stones for her Indian-inspired jewelry line: a chain of black onyx and wooden beads is anchored by a cameo of the elephant god Ganesh, cloisonne beads dangle from a delicate gold chain that rests on the collarbone, and ornate round earrings drip with freshwater pearls. HK | Exhibit, Silver Moon

TOKI COLLECTION | Tonia Kim got her law degree three years ago from Chicago-Kent, but instead of practicing law she makes feather-light chains of finely ribbed links that burst with happy bundles of semiprecious stones. Berries on a vine, waterfalls, roots, and other organic shapes influence her cascading necklaces and chandelier earrings, which have a disheveled, almost tangled-looking softness. LA | P.45


BRIGHTON PARK PRESS | BPP’s got lots of the clean, tame Illustrator-looking styles that you find in almost any indie T-shirt line. What sets it apart are the shirts it designs for charities, with the profits going there too. | Dressing Room, Guise, Penelope’s

DUMPSTERDIVE | If you pass by the Damen Blue Line stop you’ll occasionally encounter Alex Narinskiy’s hectic collection of recycled tees emblazoned with contrasting cutouts of bats and giraffes. He says he plans to have a Web site up (“people can just google DumpsterDive clothing”) by the time it’s too cold to sell outdoors.

[IM]PERFECT ARTICLES | Noah Singer and Mike Andrews curate designs by visual artists from all over the country. Some are cutesy; more sophisticated standouts include Maya Hayuk’s, with a Native American totem necklace printed around the neck. | Penelope’s

MEDEL SLUT IN PARADISE | The designers at Model Slut have no interest in subtlety: one of their Eurotrashy tees says “Coke is it!” under a portrait of Pablo Escobar. There are overt references to porn, nihilism, electronic music, and sometimes all three at once. |

SECRET HANDSHAKE | A little bit hesher (is that Andrew W.K. about to be axed by his own shadow?), a little bit art school (Greg Shirilla’s design incorporates skulls, toasters, and raw steak). | Rotofugi

SOCIETAIRE | Robert Lowe (bassist for indie-prog heroes the 90 Day Men) and Rose Lazar do small runs of shirts using silk screens and occasional embroidery to create fuzzily cryptic artwork for New Weird America types. They also do trucker caps, available at Una Mae’s Freak Boutique. |

TEETSY | Graphic-designy designs from a group of young graphic designers, on cotton shirts from Fruit of the Loom and American Apparel. A black tee with stylized cherry blossoms branching up from the hem is particularly sharp. |

THREADLESS | Anyone can post designs on for visitors to vote on. The top designs each week get made into shirts for sale, and the designers get $1,000 in cash and store credit. Nice to see democracy at work. | MR

Ananas 109 N. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, 708-524-8585

Apartment Number 9 1804 N. Damen, 773-395-2999

Bynum & Bang 2143 W. Division, 773-384-4546

Chicago Designer Shop at Marshall Field’s Open through 10/31; 111 N. State, third floor, 312-781-4171

Dressing Room 4635 N. Lincoln, 773-728-0088

Eskell 953 W. Webster, 773-477-9390

Exhibit 2961 N. Lincoln, 773-880-0448

Guise 2217 N. Halsted, 773-929-6101

Habit 1951 W. Division, 773-342-0093

Hejfina 1529 N. Milwaukee, 773-772-0002

Helen Yi 1645 N. Damen, 773-252-3838

Jake 3740 N. Southport, 773-929-5253

Jake 939 N. Rush, 312-664-5553

Material Possessions 704 N. Wabash, 312-280-4885

P.45 1643 N. Damen, 773-862-4523

Penelope’s 1913 W. Division, 773-395-2351

Red Head Boutique 3450 N. Southport, 773-325-9898

Robin Richman 2108 N. Damen, 773-278-6150

Rotofugi 1953 W. Chicago, 312-491-9501

Sara Jane 1343 N. Wells, 312-335-1962

Shebang 1616 N. Damen, 773-486-3800

Shirts on Sheffield 2807 N. Sheffield, 773-868-1600

Silver Moon 1755 W. North, 773-235-5797

Spare Parts 2947 N. Broadway, 773-525-4242

Tessuti 50 E. Oak, 312-266-4949

Truefitt & Hill 900 N. Michigan, sixth floor, 312-337-2525

Una Mae’s Freak Boutique 1422 N. Milwaukee, 773-276-7002

Untitled 1941 W. North, 773-342-0500

Untitled 2707 N. Clark, 773-404-9225

W Hotel Gift Shop 644 N. Lake Shore Dr., 312-941-7078

W Hotel Gift Shop 172 W. Adams, 312-941-7078

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Saverio Truglia, Matt Woods, Suzy Poling, Kim Soss, Walker Brockington, Charbel Nasser, Brianna Lamberson, Daphne Walsh.