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Our man about town Jared Hatch gets the scoop on the third-ever standalone Carhartt store to open on US soil?right here in Chicago!
We're psyched that the fabric of our childhood dreams has finally started gaining a North American a brick and mortar presence. Buzz Wheeler, the operator of the nation's first two Carhartt locations is responsible for increasing the brand's foothold in the street wear market. With his first store in Portland in 2009 and a second store in Salt Lake last November, Carhartt has gradually been bridging the gap between utilitarian and fashion consumers. The effort continues this spring in Chicago, at 1520 North Milwaukee Ave in Wicker Park where Carhartt is opening its third North American location—which is not being opened by Wheeler. Last week, we were lucky enough to talk with Jim McKinney (a.k.a. JD), the architect and designer of the new store.
JD's San Antonio-based custom fabrication metalsmithing and woodworking company, which also designed the Salt Lake Carhartt store, explains the types and uses of materials to convey the brand image and utilize spaces. His company tries to abide by an 80% margin of reusing and repurposing locally-sourced antiques in the design of the space. One of the best examples of his efforts of doing this in the Salt Lake store is the fully functional revolving dry cleaners rack that the store uses every day to openly display their stock.
"We have a huge team working with us and it takes skill to arrange the pieces in a way to make sense for the store." On his phone, Jim shows us photos of S.L.'s rotunda with an old motorcycle and explains how he got the vintage Jeep hanging above the cash registers. The floor is a tinted concrete and there are original Carhartt posters from Dearborn Michigan. JD is only in the concept stages of white foamcore tables right now, but soon will be heading to estate sales, Architectural Artifacts, and rustic antique shops to snatch up some show stopping pieces for the Chicago Carhartt.
The Chicago store (like all Milwaukee Ave stores) is rattled by the abutting elevated Blue Line track every few minutes and gently shakes the makeshift foamcore fixtures used to outline the flow of the store. Based on the construction of the window display case JD had constructed, we're sure the actual store fixtures when they're built will be just as rugged as the bibs and boots sitting on them. The design sounds great, and we can't wait to see Carhartt set up shop and pull out all the stops for their Midwestern Flagship.
About the product? Well, Krista, from Wheeler's west coast crew says both of their stores are selling a lot of the 1989 Collection and the signature bibs. The women's and children's sections are also getting a significant amount of inventory to be shipped in the springtime to keep up with the demand. In Chicago, we don't doubt that inventory will be pretty much the same because Carhartt is so universally awesome from its roots on the US Railroad, rodeo gals and farmers to DIY Network, Ax Men, and Phil Seymour Hoffman. Maybe Chicago's store will a little more hip but just because the soccer moms in Wicker Park have the trendiest haircuts ever. In addition to the lines that are selling well in the Pacific Northwest, we think we'll see pieces from the Jean Touitou collaboration, and the hard to get European Carhartt Collection. (You didn't hear that from us—it's just the word on the street.)
· Carhartt [Official Site]