When Lindsey Boland, who designs clothes under the label Superficial Inc., moved to Chicago from New York two years ago, she looked for the sort of store where she'd been selling her stuff in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Portland, and Ottawa--a boutique specializing in up-and-coming designers who work on a small scale. Finding none, she set about making her own: Habit, at 1951 W. Division, a small-label-only shop with a focus on local designers, opened two weeks ago. Boland's sister, Deirdre, a freelance art director and graphic designer, decorated the white-walled, slightly industrial space almost like a gallery, "very clean but with dark, soft elements," like the curvy curio cabinet with the original flaking finish, rescued from their great-grandmother's basement. Most of Habit's wares fall somewhere between fashion and craft, and many are relatively easy on the wallet. Some of the work is extremely personal, like the peaches-and-cream lambskin dress by Alicja Tatina, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute's fashion design program. "There'll be one person who fits in this dress perfectly," says Boland. Other items currently on the racks: a flirty skirt made from Irish hand-loomed wool by SAIC student Abigail Glaum-Lathbury, pinned up with hidden vintage buttons; reconstructed men's T-shirts and suit coats with a slightly apocalyptic vibe by Brooklyn-based Sinner Saint, which sometimes dresses Jon Spencer; a perfectly tough, slightly distressed peacock-green leather peplum jacket by Columbia College graduate Anna Ehrler; soft, springy shrugs crocheted in an open-weave pattern resembling bricks by south-sider DI-O; and canvas handbags from locals HMC and Drag N' Fly. Boland's only criterion for what she carries is quality. "It has to be well made," she says. "I don't want anything that'll fall apart." Other than that, she's left the aesthetic pretty open: "Whether kooky or elegant, I want some design element that makes it different from what you see in mass production."
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Newberry.