Fashion on Deck
These Chicago boutiques get clubby with their customers.
by Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published in Time Out Chicago Magazine | 09.16.10
The Goods life
RSVP Gallery 1753 N Damen Ave, 770-6666. www.rsvpgallery.com
With Marc Jacobs and Club Monaco dominating the Bucktown landscape, it’s easy to miss the garden level RSVP Gallery. The pop-art-meets-luxury-goods boutique founded by 27-year-old Marc Moran last August looks like Kanye West and Larry Gagosian partnered on a toy store. “People know they can come here and be turned on to things that haven’t caught on in mainstream culture yet,” Moran Says. Catering to urban hipsters and the playfully fashion forward, RSVP does have a few vinyl miniatures, but the main focus is clothing and accessories. Offerings include Technicolor watches from G-Shock, sunglasses from Karen Walker and t-shirts galore, from Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club to its own RSVP line. It also boasts an extensive collection of PLAY by Comme Des Garçons, featuring tees (ranging from $85 to $115), sweaters ($310) and cardigans ($350–$380) for men and women. Other popular items include Ambush’s POW rings ($90) and necklaces ($450), which look like an Adam West’s Batman punch set to plastic, and, Moran’s personal favorite, smiling flower throw pillows ($210–$525) from acclaimed Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami.
Moran’s trendsetting doesn’t stop at RSVP Gallery. Along with partners Virgil Abloh, Shannon Sangster and Chelsea Lavin, the quartet founded @Superfun, a weekly Wednesday night soiree at the James Hotel’s JBar. With Million $ Mano at the helm as musical director, the night is a classier alternative to downtown clubbing that’s been popping bottles and packing in people for almost a year and a half. With an ever-evolving soundtrack, the party attracts clubbers of all stripes. “If it was a more urban crowd one week, we may go real hipster with the music the next,” Moran explains. “We reach a really niche demographic, those that lead the pack and influence others to what’s cool out there,” he continues. “This goes hand-in-hand with RSVP Gallery.”
Black Market Caviar. 1945 W Chicago Ave. 312-624-8893. www.blackmarketcaviar.com
Causing a ruckus since the end of last year, Black Market Caviar is the brainchild of Chicago-born brothers Brian and Marco Lopez. The concept combines their backgrounds in fashion design and screen-printing and kicks out highly conceptual—and hilariously mischievous—t-shirts and accessories that riff on the idea of a posh gangster lifestyle. “We’re inspired by bootlegging,” 29-year-old Marco explains. “To flirt with major designers and make fun of luxury, it’s a comment not only about fashion and what people sink their money into, but also a nod to today’s economic conditions.” With a coke spoon filled with caviar arranged in an Illuminati pyramid for a logo and their signature T-Lo packaging—white shirts rolled up and shrink wrapped to look like kilos of nose candy—the two have really nailed the aesthetic. Many of their designs run in limited batches of 18-25, units but their most popular, like Young Shitty Life ($30), which flips the Yves Saint Laurent logo by using a butterfly knife for the Y, and Coco Chicago ($30), which puts two Chicago Cubs logos face-to-face to mimic the Coco Chanel logo, are kept in print year round.
Their gangster-channeling ideas get more ingenious as day turns to night. Started simply as in-store get togethers for respected clients, Black Market Caviar’s firt real foray into nightlife was a 40oz party at Empire Liquors where the obligatory brown paper bags were emblazoned with the Louis Vuitton pattern in gold. More recently, the store has teamed with CS Magazine to co-host product launch parties, including one this summer where they set up shop to do live t-shirt screen-printing. But the fete most near and dear to their hearts is Speakeasy, a series of private events the brothers launched last month, and plan to continue doing regularly. Taking over a different hotel suite each time, Black Market Caviar’s Speakeasy’s are catered and complete with a DJ and a stocked bar. “We want to provide an added bonus for messing with us,” Marco says. “You don’t have to do anything but look good and bring a date.”