Outside Fulton Market warehouse-studio Brickermade, spiny high heels totter along the gray, crumbled sidewalk strips. Girlish chatter bounces off the ordinarily spare, industrial soundscape. It’s a balmy Saturday afternoon with illusions of spring and the renegade sample sale dubbed “Savvy Shopper Approved” has ushered in a throng of shiny-haired, shrewd shoppers—thanks to price cuts on local and national threads. Balloons affixed to a small sign outside and notebook paper tacked on the studio door with hand-scrawled, red frenetic font (“SAMPLE SALE!”) lend to the air of excitement.
As I enter, I’m hit with the peaceful buzz of collective concentration and the delicate sound of hangers sliding leisurely along metal rails. While the sample sale concept is at the crux of coastal high-end fashion, Chicago doesn’t get much of the action; unfortunate, as these dramatically discounted showcases of extraneous merchandise (often including overstock and canceled store orders) are a godsend for the glamorous pragmatist. Luckily, organizer Janice Moskoff, owner of Beta Boutique, has big plans. “By fall next year, we’re thinking once a month,” she says. “We love the West Loop, but it depends on the space that’s available.”
Her enthusiasm is infectious: designer Lara Miller, a quiet forerunner of eco-friendly design since 2002, is on-hand at the sale, demonstrating the versatility of her organic dyed linens. As a handful of slinky women stand spellbound, Miller whips a sweater over her head for a mod, hooded look and then transforms it into a deep-cowl-neck top. “It’s more about a person’s body,” instructs Miller, as a creamy, key-hole-neck dress (priced down to $130 from $220) magically morphs into a low-backed turtleneck. A woman ogling Eskell’s silken blouses finally settles on a powdery gray one, speckled with tiny earth-toned birds (in the $100s from $373), while another seems relieved to find a gold-threaded dress from New York designer Maya for under a Franklin. Yes, options are limited, the sizes small (most run between three-to-five) and the prices still, well, pricey. But for some good, clean fun and reckless discounts, Savvy Shopper Approved is on point. (Libby Ramer)
Check savvyshopperapproved.com for information on upcoming sample sales.