Chicago's Best Shopping Off the Mag Mile
The Magnificent Mile – Chicago’s answer to Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive and New York’s Fifth Avenue – boasts the usual designer retail suspects, from Burberry to Saks Fifth Avenue. To get an idea of local style and attitude, you’ll have to venture into the neighbourhoods. Here are some choice boutiques away from the “Mag Mile.”
Barbara Bates Designs
Native Chicagoan Barbara Bates has held down the South Loop with her studio for almost 30 years. The self-taught designer creates head-turning apparel that’s been seen on First Lady Michelle Obama, Steve Harvey, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and others – from flashy party dresses to pantsuits that push the boundaries of what a pantsuit can be.
2031 S. Michigan Ave., 312-808-8091
Borris Powell Designs
This Alabama-born designer came to prominence when he won a 2011 contest to create an evening gown for an escort at the Academy Awards. He’s been cranking out haute couture collections ever since, adding a menswear line in recent years. Powell’s studio is located in the West Loop, a perfect neighbourhood for him to explore his creativity and for you to grab drinks and dinner afterwards.
400 N. May St., #201, 773-857-5585
Located on the fashionable Oak Street strip (which also boasts Jimmy Choo, Kate Spade and Prada), Independence caters to fellows with upscale yet understated tastes. Its motto is “all goods American made,” with a healthy number of brands represented. Typical apparel consists of easygoing weekend looks, with accessories and grooming products to complete the picture.
47 E. Oak St., 312-675-2105
Located on the lobby level of the newly restored Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Madison Hall offers a great selection of women’s and men’s apparel, accessories and apothecary products. The store’s owners have scoured the globe for unique offerings, which also include fragrances, special hotel sundries and magazines you won’t find at the corner pharmacy. An adjacent space features a barber’s chair where a rotating assortment of the city's top stylists offers custom haircuts.
71 E. Madison St., 312-683-9586
The fourth luxury flagship store to open after ones in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas and New York, this location occupies two levels in a former movie house. Tom Ford sells everything branded, from business suits to beauty products, but upstairs is the real gem. The private salon is reserved for VIP customers and resembles an exclusive club. It offers two fireplaces, a private bar and plush sofas.
66 E. Oak St., 312-605-5041
This article was originally published on July 21, 2015