As the Chicago Renaissance has embedded its footprints in all aspects of fine arts, its certainly unquestionable that the Windy City’s sense of fashion has not disappointed us this year. Over the past years, the fashion scene in Chicago has influenced the fashion industry in several ways.
All the way from urban street-wear to fashionable and functional outerwear, the city has never lacked in the inspiration department and other states have taken notice of this. Thus with fashion being a large market, it was imperative that What’s The Word dived into the conversation and ask its viewers, who will you be wearing in 2019?
Well, we’re here to help. As we reflect on the past year, we’ve created a list of prospering Chicago based clothing brands to watch out for in 2019. These are the game changers, city favorites, and hidden gems of the city. We’ve talked with multiple brands about their vision, inspiration, impact on the city, as well as their sales approach.
What’s the word presents, Chicago To Anywhere: Clothing Brands to Watch Out For. Within this list we’ve shined light on Chicago based clothing lines and designers that are making an impact on the industry. We’re confident that these brands will shortly expand their name and following throughout the Chicagoland and the country.
You heard it first, these brands are on their way to the top.
Black heroes is the comfortable and stylish brand that promotes Black excellence within every item. The brand has been active for more than 4 years and specializes in shirts, sweatsuits, hoodies, and jackets. Their '“BH4EVER” jean jacket is one of their most popular items and has been worn by many celebrities like King Louie, Korporate, and Lil Kemo. Other artists like Kodak Black and Bobby Brown have also approved of the brand. Although we didn’t get to speak with the creator personally, we recognize this brand as one to watch out for because of it’s ability to balance urban style with the history of black culture. Their clothing typically states powerful sayings from Black figures. One of their shirts displays a quote from athlete Jesse Owens, stating “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self discipline, and effort.” After following the brand, we acknowledge that dedication and effort is certainly present in the clothing. It’s fit for everyone! If you want clothes that will allow you to look stylish and feel empowered, choose Black Heroes.
Chicago Playground is a brand that received national recognition this past year. It’s a city favorite created by Rodnell “Kid” Harris. The brand sells custom designed varsity jackets and cardigans. The jackets are crafted by a cut and sew technique. Many celebrities have been seen sporting his jackets like Lil Durk, Fred VanVleet, 600 Breezy, Tarhonda Jones, H.E.R, and Dej Loaf. But one of his popular designs, which pays homage to the 1990’s TV show ‘Martin’ brought the brand televised attention when it debuted on the 2018 soul train awards. The jackets were worn by Martin’s very own Pam and Gina aka Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell. This brand is one to watch for because of its uniqueness, authenticity, and consistent nod to African American culture. While we didn’t get the opportunity to speak with Mr. Harris about his brand, it’s obvious that each piece is crafted with love. Aside from the high production value in his pieces, Chicago Playground is certainly one to shop with because each piece and design is crafted with “the culture” in mind.
DesignerZoh is the female designer bringing heat to the city. As stated on the company website, “DesignerZoh offers a variety of high fashion urban attire stemming from the slums of South Side Chicago.” The company offers several items but specializes in jeans, jackets, and polos. Along with her everyday line up, she also creates custom bulletproof vests. She’s received orders from many artists like BlocBoy JB, CalBoy, YBN Nahmir, and Young Nudy. She’s certainly one to watch out for because of her attention to detail, creativity, as well as all around flare. Her clothes exhibit the current trends of the industry while also maintaining originality. When shopping with DesignerZoh we’re confident you’ll be impressed. She’s one to watch out for because there’s no telling where her creativity will go next. Her clothes are fit for everyone who want to make a statement.
High End Junkie is the popular brand created by Chicago native Q. Hudson. She’s another female taking over the city! HEJ has been around since 2013 and has since developed a large following of fans from everyday consumers to celebrities like Tarhonda Jay, Safaree, Teyana Taylor, and many more. Her brand is known for its colorful and creative designs that depict her decision to stray away from typical “black and nude colorways” commonly seen in the fashion industry. Although the name “junkie” has negative connotations, Q’s use of it changes it to a positive viewpoint. Her website comments that “It's our goal to encourage people to focus on GOOD ADDICTIONS ONLY. Having an addiction to the finer things in life should push you to be the best, and allow you to set yourself up to be in a position to attain and maintain the lifestyle you desire". High End Junkie is a brand for anyone who “desires a top-of-the-line look while maintaining their street cred.” We recognize this brand because of her vast creativity and desire to stray away from the normality of the fashion industry. If you have a desire for the finer things in life and want your clothes to reciprocate that need, choose High End Junkie. You won’t be disappointed.
Icon Moo is a creator that’s serving heat and positivity. The name of the brand ICON, is an acronym for “I can overcome negativity.” The brand promotes self empowerment and strength. It’s been worn by many artists and professionals like Gunna, CalBoy, DJ PHarris, Jason Mitchell, King Louie, and Phor. The brand focuses on T-Shirts, jogging suits, and jackets, but has also expanded into accessories like hats and belts. The creator brings his clothing to life with the use of bright colors and trendy yet subtle designs. He’s earned a spot on the list because of his successful ability to balance simplicity and style. ICON is fit for everyone, children included. It’s one to watch because it’s the everyday look that still manages to turn heads. If you want clothes that are comfortable, versatile, and eye catching, choose ICON. It’s the brand that instills confidence and positivity.
Ron Louis is the Chicago native that’s made his mark. He’s a stand out designer that creates custom one of a kind pieces under the name Ron Louie Customs, and also creates everyday pieces through his brand Phera. Phera is the clothing line that’s commonly marked by the standout phrase “DESIGNER”. Although he works behind two brands, it’s no question that his style, ambition, and creativity are present in everything he touches. When speaking with Ron Louis about Phera he mentions that he makes clothes for “everyday people” He went on to explain that the theme behind the brand is to “design your life.” Hence, his idea for using the phrase “designer” on the clothes. He goes on to state that it’s for those who are “creators, go-getters, entrepreneurs, and anyone who wants to make their situation better.” Artists like Valee, Dreezy, Lil Herb and more have been seen wearing his designs. Ron Louis has earned his place on the list because he focuses on quality, so much so that he goes the extra mile by completing “wash-tests” on his clothes to make sure the items hold up over time. If you’re one that wants your clothes to have functionality, yet style and quality, Phera is the place to shop! If you’re interested in a custom one of a kind look, Ron Louis is the one to meet! Although he’s only been around for about 2 years, we’re certain his creativity, uniqueness, and people skills will solidify his longevity in the industry. If you want to wear something that speaks to your lifestyle and inner creator, shop with Ron Louis.
Pilars is a brand that caters to the essentials. The brand is ran by college friends Andre, Mike, Frank, Cedric, and Robin. The group met in college, started the brand, and moved it to Chicago. Although they’re located in the city, their inspiration and influence come from more than just Chicago. They promote themselves as more than a Chicago brand because they want their name to “stand on its own.” Which is exactly what a pillar is meant to do. The friends describe their clothing as “Leisure Wear.” Aside from comfort-ability they promise quality and affordable clothing. It’s one to shop with because “they’re a complete package.” as stated by Andre. During our interview he continued by stating one should shop with Pillars because “It’s just the superior product, whether you look at style or quality.” They’ve earned their spot on the list by successfully balancing simplicity and style. Pillars is the brand for anyone who wants to be stylish without being heavily restrained by clothes. If you’re one who wants a clothing brand that caters to your everyday look, then this is the brand for you.
After speaking with creator Leek, we’ve deemed him as one that everybody should shop with. He describes Rich Society as a brand for everybody. Leek is the Chicago born native, that everyone is rooting for. Although he’s only been a designer for about three years, he’s received love from everybody including local favorites Valee, Lil Herb, Iman Shumpert and Teyanna Taylor. He accounts the success of his brand towards his love for fashion and appreciation for the city. He’s a people person that’s not in it for the money, he simply enjoys meeting new people. The 24 year old, Chicago native states that the designs and inspiration behind the brand’s name is based off a phrase that many can relate to, “We ain’t wanna be broke!” Rich Society promotes a mindset and desire that everyone relates to, being wealthy and rich in your own society, knowledge, etc. While his clothes fit the stylish everyday look that many consumers look for, the clothes also share a message and art behind them. He references popular artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and SAMO as inspiration behind some of his clothes like the popular “RichSo Becuz Gucci Aint For Us” design. Rich Society is a Chicago brand making its mark, Leek states that you should shop with him because it’s original. He goes on to state that “it’s a genuine process, and thought behind it.” He wants the world to embrace Rich Society and understand it. He’s one to look out for because not only does he care about what he does, his creativity and approach to his work is original.
As described on the store website, Urban Elegance is the “contemporary” clothing brand for “taste -makers". Although we didn’t get the opportunity to interview the designers behind the brand, we were able to conclude that UE is a brand worth buying. Their clothing is geared towards being functional while wearing a stylish and sleek design. The appearance and quality of their cricket club inspired clothing line fits a day at the golf course or a day out with your co-workers. Nonetheless wherever you go, we’re sure you’ll turn heads in Urban Elegance. They’re one to watch because of their unique approach towards their clothing and the noticeable quality and care placed into it. Their name says it all, shop Urban Elegance if you want clothes that display just that.
Veyron Calanari is the clothing brand that’s changing how people view family and business. The company is ran by three blood brothers, Rodney, Darius, and Demetrius. The family developed their love for fashion during their adolescence in high school by designing jeans and other custom items. The trio played with clothing by painting and cutting up their classmates name brand items. The crew describe their clothing as confident! They assured us that in order to wear their pieces which are dripped in colors and patterns, you have to be different. This brand is for consumers who stray away from the typical. Thus, if you’re one that tends to follow the crowd and trends, then unfortunately Veyron Calanari is not for you! Aside from their unique appearance, the brand prides themselves on quality and customer service. If you stop by their store, you’re sure to get a genuine experience! VC loves and cares about everyone that shops with them, and the customers acknowledge and appreciate that. Their fans are loyal and consistent shoppers. Aside from their love for creativity and fashion, the family plans to expand into the music industry. Along with that they pride themselves and their brand on positively influencing the community. They went on to state they intend to “Make it to the top, and throw the rope down for everybody else.” They currently help their community every chance they get because they’re connected to the city. VC is one to shop with because it’s authentic and 100% rare.” “You want to be high quality? You want to be different? Choose Veyron Calanari.”