Made in Chicago shop offers local fashion for every shape, size

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A brand new retail store called Made in Chicago (presented by AIBI), features all Chicago designers. Killion is a women's fashion brand built on modern spirit by Dana Killion. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times


Opening Saturday

Where: The Shops at North Bridge, 44 E. Grand

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Launch party: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday (free, open to the public)


Mention this story and score 10 percent off any full-price merchandise.

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As I walk the Made in Chicago shop — a space reminiscent of the doctor’s office it once was — busy designers hide in small “examination rooms,” working tirelessly to turn their spaces into mini boutiques.

The finished shop opens Saturday at 44 E. Grand and is presented by the Apparel Industry Board Inc. (AIBI), a non-profit group that has mentored local designers for 25 years. AIBI held a temporary Made in Chicago pop-up shop in December, but this is the group’s first permanent store. It features a diverse group of people — with fashion experience ranging from 20 years to two.

“We can’t give them talent,” says AIBI director Marsha Brenner. “They have that already. What we can do is give them the skills to stay in business.”

Among the 16 collections featured in the shop: A line devoted solely for biker chicks; jewelry made from mid-century watch fobs; skirts created for the “pear-shaped woman;” and a dress designed for Michelle Obama (though she may not be aware).

Here are several highlights:

fourth is king

Possibly the hippest brand of the bunch, Jay Byrne’s Fourth is King offers streetwear with a focus on comfort and simplicity. The colorful T-shirts (all $34) feature very cool graphics, designed by Byrne, and are perfect for layering under a cardigan or hoodie.


The most high fashion of the collections, Killion features gorgeous separates from designer and Lincoln Park shop owner Dana Killion. “I created the collection to show off what fashion in Chicago is about,” says Killion. “It’s about shape for me, more than pattern and color.” Pieces range from $120 to $350.

Laura lein

A Chicago designer for 19 years, Lein has dressed politicians such as including Maria Pappas and Anita Alvarez. But she’s aiming a little higher with a sleeveless “Michelle” dress, named after the first lady. “She loves arms and we want her to wear this dress,” says Lein.

caramel ribbon

The colorful room full of itty-bitty fashion from Blanca Bitca looks like a live game of Candy Land. The styles for girls run from $35 to $150.


You may have seen Takara Beathea-Gudell’s dresses and tunics (such as the “Judith,” $128, which she models above) in her shop Takara, 123 Marion St. in Oak Park. For 20 years, she’s created for “real women with real sizes,” and is inspired by the architecture of Chicago. “I look at a building, and I think, “how can I put that upside down and make it into a dress? Turn it, flip it and add sleeves!”


This Margarita Skirt, $98, is a playful take on the refreshing beverage from designer Kathryn Mc-Kechnie, who’s made it her mission to design for the “pear-shaped” girl. Sizes range from 0 to 20, and most of her dresses and skirts are less than $125.

chikahisa studio

A seemingly innocent art class at the Lill Street Art Center led Ann Chikahisa to ditch her career in the corporate world and become a full-time jewelry designer. “It took over my life. I took a leap of faith, jumped off a bridge and here I am,” Chikahisa says with a laugh. “I’m sort of swimming — sort of.” She uses silver and gold vermeil to create dramatic and sophisticated pieces. Rings start at $85; others run from $125 up to $1,200.

vava vroom

This edgy line of female motorcycle and scooter apparel from Denise L. Maple may have you itching to hit the open road. A definite standout (which includes plus-sizes) is a T-shirt with a motorcycle infused with the Chicago flag ($29.99)

circa 1856

What do you do when you retire from a career in radio? You design necklaces made from mid-century watch fobs. Anne Maxfield, a former on-air personality at WSCR the Score and WGN-AM, repurposes vintage pieces from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s to create one-of-a-kind jewelry. Prices range from $115 to $165.