On the Marc

What’s behind the boom in luxe retail?

Pleated dresses, pouffy hats, and plaid haberdashery will surely become hot local commodities after Marc by Marc Jacobs opens in Bucktown in August. But the Marc début-and the openings (or planned openings) of a Harry Winston, a David Yurman, a Tory Burch, a Jimmy Choo, and two Intermix stores-point to an even hotter commodity: the Chicago shopper, whose retail spending shot up 7.9 percent last year, eclipsing the national average of 6 percent. What’s causing the windfall of luxe boutiques? “The Macy’s acquisition of Marshall Field’s has opened a gap in the market for high-end specialty retailers,” says John Melaniphy, a Chicago-based retail locational specialist, who also cites the recent housing boom downtown and the increasingly brand-conscious shopper. “The merchandise that [Macy’s] brought and said was upscale-the consumer said, Wrong.”

An electrifying ensemble: Pan Am Explorer bag in vintage white ($64), at Marc by Marc Jacobs, 1714 N. Damen Ave. Blue leather Berry ankle boots ($895), available in black at Jimmy Choo, 63 E. Oak St.; 312-255-1170. With cobalt blue opaque nylon tights ($39), at Fogal Legwear of Switzerland, 900 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-944-7866.

Photograph: Jeff Harris



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