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In the two years since it opened on Clark, Milk Handmade has established itself as an essential Chicago landing place for small batch, locally made goods. Owner Hallie Borden chatted with us about the importance of supporting regional designers, what's coming down the pipeline in fall/winer Chicago collaborations, and why Andersonville is the city's next booming fashion scene.—Alison Peters
Why did you decide to open Milk Handmade in Andersonville?
Andersonville has had an inspired design scene for many years, but mostly in the form of furniture and home goods. I knew there were shoppers with unique taste looking for well-made, locally-sourced, eco-friendly items, and I wanted to serve that perspective in fashion.
What's your elevator pitch for supporting local goods? Why should we care about handmade items?
The Chicago fashion scene has boomed over the last few years, which is great because we are able to carry more and more locally designed and produced clothing. There are so many important reasons to support local designers. It's great for the local economy to spend your money on artists in your community. It's also much more practical from a business standpoint. I can collaborate more easily with local designers, I can let them know what my customers are asking for and create custom designs that are exclusive to Milk, and cutting out the shipping costs often allows me to offer lower prices.
We think about where our gas, food, etc comes from—but don't consider it as much when it comes to shopping. Chicago-made goods are a great choice fashionably, and ideologically.
The Properties of Space necklace by Ali's Collection, $125
Can you tell us about a few new trends for the Fall/Winter season?
There's this really deep teal color that is becoming I'm seeing a lot—almost a winter teal. I love it so you'll be seeing a lot of it popping up at Milk, especially paired with gold accessories.
For our jewelry, there's an Intergalactic mixed with Art Deco vibe I'm seeing designers come in with. It's really bold yet balanced, and I am very excited about it.
I'm also seeing a growing desire for really tiny, feminine jewelry. Interestingly enough, the large statement pieces and small, delicate pieces both tend to appeal to the same customer. It's all about balance.
What do you think makes the Chicago fashion scene unique?
I love that fashion in Chicago means something different to everyone. We don't have a cohesive style, and that means that it's a lot easier to experiment and create our own rules. I love that I can wear completely different outfits on different days and still feel like myself. And I love that every Chicago designer has a completely different creative perspective.
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· Milk Handmade [Official Site]
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