Pilsen vintage shops
A crop of new shops makes this 'hood a retro-fashion hub.
Computer programmer meets Seattle vintage-store owner; couple fall in love and together open a shop in 2008 showcasing their mutual love for vintage wares. Patterns, prints and colors run amok in this bright blue storefront chock-full of reasonably priced everyday garb from the ’40s to the ’80s: plaid Western shirts and wool skirts; rainbow-colored, well-worn cotton tees bearing geeky slogans; floral day dresses; and jackets (tweed, leather, jean and track). Prices rarely exceed $30: Milk-glass mugs go for a cheap $4–$10, and ’70s travel cases ($18–$26) are your ticket to jet-setting in style. 1425 W 18th St (312-850-2510).
“Our motto is ‘take it in, take it up,’?” says co-owner Law Roach, holding up a formerly tea-length frock, now asymmetrically hemmed and cropped. In this glamorous 16-month-old shop, the hemlines ride high, the waistbands run small and the opinions, when solicited, sound loud and clear from the two owners, both professional wardrobe stylists. They call the collection nouveau vintage (in other words, vintage pieces you’d see on today’s runways), which at the moment translates to an ’80s orange Day-Glo cutout dress ($72), late ’80s/early ’90s full-length polka-dot jumper ($72) and a ’90s floral Valentino button-up skirt ($68). We’re also drooling over a 1994 Versace blazer embellished with oversize safety pins ($798). The glam setting—striped pink and black-and-white floral walls, lace-curtained dressing rooms—make you want to strut straight to those double-platform black suede Egyptian pumps ($92). 1747 S Halsted St (312-733-0407).
There’s one reason to visit Floyd A. Davis IV’s gallery-cum-retail shop-cum-recording-studio-cum-woodworking-space: the Gentleman’s Boombox Collection. When he’s not carving wooden beards for wall hangings or screenprinting tees, the multitalented artist turns vintage suitcases (think spiffy versions like leather-lined canvas carriers and well-worn blue trunks from as far back as the late 19th century) into iPod boom boxes, using working vintage speakers. Prices start at $350 for smaller boom boxes, $650 for medium and $950 for large. 1827 S Halsted St (312-624-8687).
Owner Melanie Lyke studied fashion design at Howard University, so after a few years of retail jobs and substitute teaching, she figured she should finally put those skills to good use. Two years after launching a vintage clothing and accessories shop on Etsy, Lyke is setting up a by-appointment brick-and-mortar store (opening this week) where she’ll sell unaltered and slightly reworked vintage clothing and accessories. Except for the jewelry (blingy rhinestone rings, bronze collars composed of vintage pieces), Lyke prefers embellishing over deconstructing. Right now, that means dip-dyeing, adding studs to otherwise standard vintage fare and shortening hemlines to modernize the mostly ’70s–’90s garb. 2150 S Canalport Ave, unit 5A-4 (708-908-0244).