Chicago: An Emerging Fashion Capital

It was a beautiful August day in Chicago and I had just arrived to start an internship. It was my first time ever visiting Chicago. Chicago had never really crossed my mind as a city to visit let alone eventually move to! I didn’t know anything about Chicago and quite frankly wasn’t enthusiastic about being in a city I deemed boring.

I surely didn’t know what a fashionable city it was. To my surprise I was walking down Oak Street (The Rodeo Drive of Chicago) with a fellow co-worker and saw a Christian Louboutin shop next to a Tom Ford boutique. I was in shock to say the least. Who knew Chicago was fabulous enough to have its own Christian Louboutin shop right next to Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana? Not even tax-free New Jersey had one!

Don’t sleep on Jersey though. I might be biased but New Jersey is a very fashionable state full of designer shops. It’s one of the highest grossing retail areas in the country! We have many high end designer shops like Chanel, Versace, Hermes, Fendi, Dior, Jimmy Choo and a handful of others. This is mainly due to the fact that there is no sales tax on clothing and shoes in New Jersey.

This can save you lots of money, upwards of $100 and more. Which is the reason why I always have my shoes and clothing delivered to my home in New Jersey and pick them up on one of my frequent trips back home. On the weekends you see a sea of New York License Plates fill up the parking lots of Short Hills Mall and Garden State Plaza (the two uber upscale malls in New Jersey). Fun Fact: New Jersey is known as the mall capital of the country.

AR-304129995.jpg(Oak Street’s Major Attraction)

This was back in 2014 and I didn’t know at the time that Chicago was having a resurgence of high-end designer shops popping up everywhere, especially in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood which houses million dollar homes, the original Playboy Mansion and Oak Street. The Louboutin, Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana had recently been opened. A few years earlier Barney’s New York moved into a brand new 6 floor building across from its former location which now is occupied by Hermes.

Chicago must have a thing for moving stores across the street. Jimmy Choo recently moved its former location from 114 E Oak Street to a bigger, two floor shop at 63 E. Oak St. Oak Street is the place to be but may be having some competition soon. Agent Provocateur, Carolina Herrera, Escada, Giorgio Armani, Harry Winston, Lanvin, La Perla, Prada and a handful of other stores call Oak Street home.

Many designers are opening up shop in Chicago which says a lot about Chicago’s love for designer fashions, but not just on Oak Street anymore. Versace just opened a gorgeous boutique on Rush Street with Dior slated to move in next door sometime this year.

versace-chicago-1.jpg

according to the Chicago Tribune. Theres recently been whispers that Valentino is looking into retail space in Chicago’s Gold Coast nieghborhood. Could it be where Jimmy Choo used to be? Or maybe on the up and coming Rush St which,already houses Saint Laurent,Marc Jacobs and Intermix. I’m hoping and praying for Roberto Cavalli and Manolo Blahnik store to land here soon.

Stores that already existed in Chicago are keeping an eye on the competition and have gotten face lifts. Gucci’s Chicago flagship store recently expanded its 900 N. Michigan Avenue store to 10,000 sqft with the addition of a new floor and a typical in your face Gucci exterior (think big gold and shiny letters). Across the street at Louis Vuitton, a sales associate told me they are planning on revamping their flagship as well. I’m glad because it’s in serious need of revamping. So is the Chanel store just a block north. Neiman Marcus started a major remodel in 2012 with it’s cosmetics area (my favorite, of course) even having it’s own launch party. You can watch that here on Candidly CandaceNordstrom also remodeled it’s cosmetics department which has a Tom Ford and Charlotte Tilbury counter which are rare to find. It already houses a Louboutin in-store boutique, Prada boutique and Louis Vuitton.

It’s safe to conclude the fashion scene in Chicago is getting bigger by the moment. With luxury Chicago magazines like Michigan Avenue, Modern Luxury’s CS Magazine and Splash all covering Chicago’s fashionable residents, it’s hard not to notice. Seems like daily theres an event for an opening of a new boutique. Seems like the Second City likes to keep its love for designer goods and vibrant fashion scene a hidden gem located in the Mid-West since nobody really attaches the word fashionable to Chicago which is still known around the country as The Windy City.

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