Blogger, Style Rookie
Oak Park native Tavi Gevinson launched her blog, Style Rookie in 2008 at the age of eleven and quickly became America’s teen fashion icon, traveling to Fashion Week, writing for fashion mags and serving as muse for Rodarte. She has since starred in an untitled film by Nicole Holofcener, published a book, “Rookie: Yearbook One” and launched Rookie Magazine, a website for girls that she helms as editor-in-chief. Rookie’s content is culled from readers, journalists and celebrities, and content runs the gamut, from the experience of having an alcoholic parent to accepting your body size. Lady Gaga has called her the “future of journalism,” so that settles that.
Shane Gabier and Chris Peters
Designers, Creatures of the Wind
Talk about local boys doing great things. Designers Shane Gabier and Chris Peters met in 2007 at SAIC; Gabier is a faculty member of the fashion design department, and Peters was a student at the time. They started dating and created their own line, “Creatures of the Wind.” In 2009, they sold clothing to just a handful of stores in LA and Chicago—now they sell pieces to upscale boutiques around the world. After winning $100,000 as runner-up in the CFDA /Vogue Fashion Fund Awards in 2011, they exploded onto the New York fashion scene, and now have a regular presence at Fashion Week and in the pages of Vogue and W. In doing so, they reign as Chicago’s brightest hope for a world-class homegrown designer label.
Founder, eDrop-Off, and star, “House of Consignment”
There’s nary a style soiree that goes by in Chicago—or New York, or L.A., for that matter—where you won’t find this leggy brunette. Despite running her own multimillion-dollar luxury consignment company, eDrop-Off, with a staff of twenty-plus, and designing her own jewelry line (available on corrimcfadden.com), Corri McFadden always finds the time to support local designers and boutiques at their fashion events. VH1 even documented the craziness that is McFadden’s life with its reality series “House of Consignment” (2012).
The Sculptural Objects Functional Art and Design fair (SOFA) celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, in November, on Navy Pier. Mark Lyman founded SOFA and has headed the influential design fair since its inception, except for a brief break from 2006-2008, after which he took back control of the fair to lead it again. The heavily attended annual fair (30,000 people in 2012), which includes exhibitors from around the world, showcases the cutting edge in craft-based art and design media, such as glass and ceramics.
Co-founder and CEO, 37signals
If Jason Fried had stuck to his game plan, we would not be talking about him today. When he, along with then-partners Carlos Segura and Ernest Kim, started their business back in 1999, they jumped into the already saturated field of web design. Though their pedigree—Segura was a world-famous graphic designer and Kim a veteran of the interactive agency business–set them above the field, it was their lesser-known partner, Fried, who’d survive to re-chart the company into a new and immensely profitable course. Today, though 37signal’s bread and butter is designing collaborative web tools for more than three million customers, it’s famous for inventing Ruby on Rails (the platform that sites like Twitter are built upon) and for Fried’s ideas about business reinvention given expression first through their widely followed blog on design and other topics, Signal vs. Noise and, lately, best-selling books on business innovation (“Rework,” written with his partner David Heinemeier Hansson). In a time of overheated startup frenzy after frenzy, Fried has managed to create an immensely profitable company without venture capital (he did at some point take one single outside investor, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos) and to create a business that he operates in an unusually open manner, in effect redesigning the face of American business in the process.
Founder, Struggle Inc.
Cody Hudson’s handmade, geometric, colorful style is now so prevalent among graphic design that it’s easy to forget he was its innovator. As Struggle Inc., he’s created work for Nike, Stussy, Sixpack France and Letherbee Distillers. Hudson’s newest enterprise is called Land and Sea Dept, a collaborative design, event and restaurant company with Peter Toalson (of Longman & Eagle), Robert McAdams and Jon Martin (of Mode Carpentry). One of the initial Land and Sea Projects kicks off March 31 at the Logan Theatre with a documentary film called “A Love Letter for You.”
President and CEO, Holly Hunt
In addition to being one of the largest interiors distributors direct to-the-trade in the US, with a 135,000-square-foot warehouse just outside the city, and with showrooms across the country, Holly Hunt is also a name brand, as her furniture, textile and lighting pieces are uniquely designed for her collection. Hunt has been based in Chicago since 1983.
Founding Partner, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Responsible for one of SOM’s most famous structures, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Adrian Smith either quit, resigned, was forced out or became bored with the practice well before that building’s completion to found his partnership with longtime collaborator Gordon Gill in 2006. Anyone anxious about his continuing ability to draw the moneyed oil and Chinese clients with his own practice would be comforted to know that this spring construction on the Kingdom Tower will begin, which is expected to shatter the height record of his parting gift to SOM by reaching one kilometer in height.
CEO, Trunk Club Men’s Outfitters
Success in the fashion business often means traversing a bootstrapped, rags-to-riches road. Not so for Brian Spaly, who left the hot men’s brand Bonobos he’d co-founded to run Trunk Club in December 2009. Three years later, he’s raised $13 million in venture capital, ramped up to 175 employees and projects current sales in the $15-$20 million dollar range. His great idea? That men hate to shop but love to look good. So Trunk Club pairs gents with a stylist who sends them clothes hand selected for them. Most of this is done online only, unless you’re lucky enough to live in their headquarters town of Chicago, where one-on-one appointments with a personal stylist are augmented by styling stations, on-site alterations and a magnificent roof deck and bar. Almost makes a man want to go shopping…
Co-founder and Director of Renegade Craft Fair
Susie Daly is co-founder and director of Renegade Craft Fair, which got its start in Chicago and is now hosted in major cities from San Francisco to London. Along with Etsy, which it predates by two years, the Renegade Craft Fair has promoted DIY crafting into a highly visible and marketable style. Renegade is structured like a farmer’s market, where consumers can meet the people who hand-make the products. Owls, deer and birds have proliferated in felt, on screenprints and totebags.