Photo: Jeff Sciortino
|Double vision: Erika Simmons (left) and her twin, Monika.|
The Simmons sisters first learned to crochet from Mrs. Pugh, their fourth-grade after-school teacher at John P. Altgeld Elementary School in West Englewood. They kept up the hobby through high school, often embellishing thrift store finds. After college, the sisters moved in together, began modeling, and started a hairstyling business, twisting and braiding for neighborhood folks. The fashion bug bit when friends and hair customers began asking the twins about their unique crocheted clothing, which they were still making for themselves. After a stint holding popular in-home sales, the Simmonses in 2003 launched a retail Web site and a business was born.
At the monthly Indie Designer Fashion Market, just follow the noise and laughter to find Monika, Erika, and a dozen or so of their newest friends lined up three deep at their booth, excitedly pulling on bright wraps and flattering A-line dresses. Although its work is carried at the tony Gold Coast boutique Mira Couture, Double Stitch prides itself on the personal touch: the sisters encourage new clients to visit them at home for custom fittings. Des-pite the iPod gig and their hip, energetic looks, the twins are decidedly low-tech. “Our friends have offered to buy us a cell phone, and we still have a VHS recorder,” Erika says. “The earthy thing is not an act for us.”