At Department of Curiosities in Logan Square, the slow pace is by design | Space | Chicago Reader

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At Department of Curiosities in Logan Square, the slow pace is by design

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Fashion designers Jamie Hayes of Production Mode and Gerry Quinton of Morua were on the lookout for a shared studio where they could produce their respective lines. They ended up instead with a storefront. The retail atmosphere inspired them to create their new boutique, Department of Curiosities, which opened this January in Logan Square.

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DOC isn't a typical shop—it's part showroom, part workshop. "We had to find a way to merge our very different aesthetics: [Production Mode's] supergraphic leather, and [Morua's] very romantic Edwardian-inspired corsets," Hayes says. Samples of Production Mode's limited-edition leather jackets, bags, tops, and skirts are on one side of the space; on the other, Morua's intricate corsets and structured garments. Customers can place an order for a ready-made garment, have one tailor-made, or commission a custom design. "It allows people to engage in the process of how things are made and have some fun in designing," Hayes says.

At DOC, there's a cutting table on the showroom floor, and the back of the storefront is filled with sewing machines, metalworking tools, skins and hides, antique lace and sequins. Both designers are advocates of "slow fashion," a movement that calls for ethical integrity in production and encourages consumers to buy less at higher quality. "Quality is paramount," Hayes says. "We want to have pieces that are so special they’re not disposable." She fastidiously chooses the sources of her materials to ensure they're eco-friendly and ethically made. (Production Mode's leather is vegetable tanned, which Hayes says is a greener process than chrome tanning, and locally sourced from Chicago’s Horween Tannery.)

In practice, slow fashion is, well, just plain slow. "I'm making it here with my own two hands," Quinton says. "It's gonna take a while."

Screen printed leather pieces by Production Mode
  • Andrea Bauer
  • Screen printed leather pieces by Production Mode

Corsets by Morua

Aside from running their own brands, DOC's partners are designing their first collaborative line: a collection of knitwear inspired by the 1930s. "[DOC] opened up a lot of [creative] space for us because we get to move beyond what would be appropriate for each of our respective lines," Hayes says. And the store will soon serve as a classroom: Quinton, a cofounder of the Oxford Conference of Corsetry in London, is teaching a three-day workshop on basic corset making Friday, June 5, through Sunday, June 7.

Department of Curiosities, 3013 W. Armitage, 312-520-2462, open Fridays, noon-7 PM.

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