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Welcome back to Neighborhood Style Showdown, our quest to determine Chicago's most stylish neighborhood.
Now that Andersonville and Pilsen are underway in their deathmatch, let's bring the competition to neighborhoods easier to get to; River North and Wicker Park, both sporting very distinct style profiles. Before we get to the graffiti covered walls of Wicker, let's talk about what happens on the sidewalks beneath the the Brown Line.
Ann Nathan, Jean Albano and Maya Polsky are the great galleries which have endured the RiNo reinvention and stand side-by-side to the furniture intellectualists at Luminaire high-end women's stores Blake and Lissa and that arty Starbucks where everything is made of reclaimed wood. A few blocks east of Leaders 1354 and Elements on Wells are Ikram, Material Posessions and the shell that SARCA was ousted from just over a month ago.
The neighborhood style draws from these stores, along with interior designers and tech people hiding out at 1871 in the Merchandise Mart and cocktail aficionados traipsing Hubbard and Kinzie Streets. The style is "design-chic while still dominating a pair of Herve Leger heels after a few drinks."
Westward on the #70 Division bus or about ten minutes Northwest on the #56 Milwaukee, we have Wicker Park. It all started when Filter was on the corner of the Flatiron Building and Shirley the Muffin Lady couldn't keep "merchandise" in stock. The soul of sex and a tinge of marijuana smoke remain in the wallpaper at Heaven Gallery where an occasional vintage market still happens. Right down the street we have local boutiques Eskell, Una Mae's, Kokorokoko, Penelope's and Untitled-turned-Mild Blend which all still shell-out an O.G. Wicker Park vibe.
The last few years, we've seen an influx of larger non-Chicago-based brands (some good, some are a proverbial knife in the back) like Carhartt, Aldo, American Apparel, Urban Outfitters and Dr. Marten's to name a few. All this, regardless of the fact that we could sit forever at Alliance Bakery, left to die in a pool of macaroons, Wicker Park's style is more gritty than River North. Let's say, the style is "We like nice things, but it's a secret if we buy it."