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Clothing and Accessories


Abigail Rutherford, the director of vintage couture and accessories at Leslie Hindman, recommends JOSEPH’S SHOE CLINIC in North Park for both shoe and handbag repair because of its extensive designer and luxury goods expertise. BROOKS SHOE SERVICE moved to a new location in the Loop in August but continues to offer curbside drop-off and pickup. The well-regarded shop does a steady business in repairing designer handbags and frequently fixes shoes from Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo, replacing heels or the tip of the heel. Brooks also alters shoes, shortens belts, fixes luggage, recases steamer trunks, and once even re-leathered a steering wheel.

MICHAEL’S SHOE REPAIR (Winnetka) has garnered a following throughout the North Shore for its work on women’s heels and men’s dress shoes. It also refinishes faded designer handbags by stripping down the leather to the base coat, adding a base, and airbrushing the color back to make the bag look brand new again. The Shunnarah family has owned BEEHIVE SHOEWORKS for more than 50 years and can repair any men’s or women’s shoes, from waterproofing to adding new insoles and repairing heels.  The Loop shop has also repaired the “show shoes” for Jersey Boys, The Lion King, and Mary Poppins. “They go through shoes really fast,” says Christopher Shunnarah. The store has two drop-off hubs— in the Willis (Sears) Tower and the Imperial Hotel—in addition to the main location. It also refinishes and refurbishes handbags, repairing zippers and leather and resoldering hardware.

Howard Glaser, the owner of HOWARD’S SHOE AND LUGGAGE REPAIR (Oakbrook Terrace), says, “We get more designer purses than anything else in here these days.” His shop can repair straps, tears, zippers, snaps or rivets, and touch up color. He says his shop can handle any designer brand, and given its proximity to the Oakbrook Mall, has worked on Coach, Gucci, Kate Spade, and Louis Vuitton purses. The shop also repairs shoes, from standard types to dance, tap, and ballroom shoes; work boots for police officers, firefighters, and construction workers; and once even repaired professional clown shoes.

Greece-born Gus Alonis, the owner of GUS’S SHOE REPAIR in Lincoln Park, is an old-school cobbler who can repair or alter any shoe “beautifully,” says Maureen Longua, owner of Wicker Park’s Pump Shoes. Alonis fixes broken heels and resoles, dyes, and cleans shoes; he also repairs most leather goods. SAM THE SHOE DOCTOR has five drop-off locations throughout the city. Mike Graham at MIKE’S SHOE REPAIR (Evanston) receives high marks for his fast work and reasonable prices. TOM’S GOLD COAST SHOE REPAIR specializes in luxury and vintage shoes. Also for shoes, TONY’S SHOE CLINIC (Oak Park), MONT CLARE SHOE REPAIR in Montclare, THEODORE’S SHOE REPAIR in Lincoln Square, and VILLAGE COBBLER in Lincoln Park came highly recommended among those we surveyed.


BEEHIVE SHOEWORKS is a service center for Tumi, so the Loop shop has Tumi parts on hand. HOWARD’S SHOE AND LUGGAGE REPAIR (Oakbrook Terrace) fixes wheels, zippers, handles, and makes any other luggage repair needed on equipment that is fabric, vinyl, or leather. MIKE’S SHOE REPAIR (Evanston) repairs any luggage brand, although the owner, Mike Graham, says he often works on the TravelPro brand. KAEHLER WORLD TRAVELER can ship luggage for repair either to the Kaehler service center or directly to the manufacturer, depending on the damage; the Mag Mile shop charges a $25 flat fee for shipping. Shoe shops BROOKS SHOE SERVICE, TONY’S SHOE CLINIC (Oak Park), SAM THE SHOE DOCTOR, and VILLAGE COBBLER also repair luggage.


Loreta Corsetti, of LORETA CORSETTI MILLINERY, a custom millinery atelier on the Gold Coast, makes fabulous embellished hats for the rich and famous, but she also repairs vintage women’s hats, usually resizing or repairing details that have worn with age. By appointment only. Veronica Chin, who makes hats under her line BURNING BUSH MILLINERY, has been teaching the craft at local schools, such as the Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, for 29 years. She repairs men’s and women’s hats, reblocking hats that have lost their shape or refreshing hat bands because the leather often cracks with age. The Beverly hat shop OPTIMO HATS repairs felt hats, straw hats, and caps on-site and offers cleaning, blocking, and refurbishing services, from replacing linings and sweatbands to completely renovating and restyling. BEEHIVE SHOEWORKS cleans, reblocks, and waterproofs men’s hats.


The staff at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers sends people to THE DRESS DOCTOR to refit vintage couture pieces. The Mag Mile shop specializes in altering and refitting designer couture (specializing in St. Johns Knits), bridal gowns, and other custom alterations with an emphasis on “resizing rather than just alterations,” says Giselle Ghofrani, the daughter of the owner (and “doctor”), Soheila Ghofrani. The shop, which also serves as the alterations department for the Vera Wang and Belle Vie Bridal Couture shops on Oak Street, frequently restyles and updates family wedding gowns.

Maria Tesseris, the owner and head seamstress at GOLDEN NEEDLE TAILORING on the Gold Coast, has a devoted following among the city’s fashionistas for her impeccable work on designer clothes and eveningwear. Her specialty is in couture—no small hem jobs or letting out a waistline here—and she can reconstruct fine garments while maintaining their integrity. “I do difficult work,” Tesseris says. “People bring me the most difficult jobs and take the easy ones somewhere else.” She recently altered a gown with 25 yards of pleating. Chris Kondos, who creates custom evening and wedding gowns for North Shore denizens at the CHRIS KONDOS BOUTIQUE (Wilmette), also alters vintage and contemporary designer apparel, including restyling wedding dresses.

DAVIS IMPERIAL CLEANERS, which we named “Best Couture Dry Cleaner” in 2007, also has an alterations department. “Our dressmakers are very seasoned. They’re not typical alterations people,” says Lynda Wood, who now runs the North Park business her parents started in 1956. The department can take in, hem, and bustle wedding gowns—and alters many gowns from Oak Street bridal stores. The cleaner offers restoration services, too: It recently added a clean room to preserve gowns at a museum-quality level as well as detect any hard-to-see stains that may later yellow. BARRY REGENT CLEANERS remains a favorite in the city for its alterations and repairs on designer garments.

Known for its suede and leather repairs, WITHOUT A TRACE, on the Gold Coast and in North Park, also offers re-weaving services on wool sweaters and high-end knits (from the likes of St. John Knits, Chanel, and Dior), in which technicians use magnifying glasses and tiny needles to repair holes. In Lake View, the custom-garment outfit SEW SPECIAL CUSTOM TAILORS also offers reweaving services, or “invisible repairs” on knits, as well as tailoring and alteration services on gowns, suits, pants, skirts, and jeans. In the western suburbs, SILK ROAD CLEANERS (Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills) and PERSONAL TOUCH (Western Springs) are known for their expert alterations on designer apparel. TAILS in Old Town received rave reviews for its customer service and alterations on wedding dresses, prom dresses, evening gowns, and men’s suits. In the south suburbs, I OF THE NEEDLE (Homewood) offers fast turnaround alteration services at reasonable prices.


The staff at WITHOUT A TRACE cleans, restores, and reshapes leather, shearling, and suede apparel. Leather coats with tears, burns, or faded color can be restored and returned to original softness. Shearlings are a specialty. K C LEATHER CLEANERS (Joliet) cleans and repairs leather, suede clothing, and fur. DAVIS IMPERIAL CLEANERS cleans leather, suede, furs, and fur-trimmed garments. In addition to restoring leather furniture, THE LEATHER SOLUTION in Dunning can refurbish leather jackets—from rips, holes, and tears to sewing in a replacement panel for large areas of damage. Walk-ins are welcome. HOWARD’S SHOE AND LUGGAGE repair (Oakbrook) has an on-site seamstress. VILLAGE COBBLER also repairs leather goods, from jackets to baseball gloves to wallets, as do GUS’S SHOE REPAIR and BEEHIVE SHOEWORKS.


Henry Ruzyc, the patriarch of the family-owned H. R. JEWELERS, received his training in Europe and opened his Loop shop in 1981. With a master jeweler on-site, the shop can repair almost any piece of jewelry, from updating clasps to fixing broken prongs on rings, and lately has been restoring a lot of antique jewelry—particularly, updating inherited engagement and wedding rings. “Everything we do is by hand,” says Zofia Ruzyc-Draganski, Henry’s daughter and the co-owner of the shop. The shop also has a master watchmaker on-site and can repair high-end watches such as Rolexes.

ANTONIO RODRIGUEZ JEWELERS repairs and resizes jewelry and melts down gold to create new jewelry; the Loop shop can also work with platinum. EUROPEAN DESIGNS & MANUFACTURING in the Loop can repair any type of jewelry in gold, platinum, and silver, as well as precious metals in vintage pieces. The shop uses a laser in repairs, which allows workers to connect metals without warming up the whole piece. Brothers Michael and Charlie Gluckman opened THE JEWELED ELEPHANT (Highland Park) 34 years ago and can repair gold, platinum, silver, antique, and costume jewelry, as well as watches, including high-end brands such as Rolex and Concord. Art and antiques gallery Douglas Rosin, which has an excellent selection of costume jewelry, refers clients and sends jewelry for repair to VALENTINE MANUFACTURING JEWELERS, a full-service jewelry shop in the Loop. William Semmens, the owner of COSTUME JEWELRY REPAIR HOUSE, repairs fine jewelry in gold, platinum, and precious stones, but he doesn’t turn up his nose at the costume variety. “We specialize in very old vintage costume jewelry because it’s impossible to find replacement parts, and we have quite a few of them on hand,” Semmens says. The Loop shop also repairs vases, objets d’art, clocks, antique and vintage wristwatches, and pocket watches. “We’re willing to make new parts for antique watches,” says Semmens.

Family-owned for four generations, LESTER LAMPERT, on the Gold Coast, has garnered a reputation for its fine jewelry pieces, its work on Swiss watches, and its repair of precious metal jewelry on-site. In Bucktown, RADIANCE FINE JEWELRY resizes rings, resets missing stones, replaces broken prongs, replaces clasps, and restores and refurbishes antique jewelry. ERIN GALLAGHER JEWELRY restyles old pieces and can also do small repairs on clasps and chains. (The Lincoln Park shop does not melt down precious metals.) And Lincoln Park favorite STEVE QUICK JEWELER does a steady business in restyling old pieces and repairing fine jewelry, including engagement and wedding bands.


Illustration: Charles Wilkin

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