Independence Menswear Shop Brings American-Made Clothing and Footwear to Former Wicker Park Neighborhood

WICKER PARK – A menswear store with an emphasis on American-made clothing has opened on Division Street in Wicker Park.

Independence, 1909 W. Division St., opened in May in the former home of the Neighborly gift shop, which closed its Wicker Park location in April.

Independence sells a line of high-end menswear from brands that are hard to find elsewhere in Chicago, owner George Vlagos said.

“It’s focused on workwear, early Americana workwear,” he said. “It’s very much inspired by what the Japanese have done with American workwear. And that’s what we wear.

Independence grew out of Vlagos’ first business, Oak Street Bootmakers, which he founded online in 2010. He said it quickly exploded in popularity, bringing the brand a lot of attention and success. overnight”.

Vlagos launched Independence in 2011 to expand its reach to jeans, shirts and all types of clothing.

“I decided to start Independence, which would focus almost exclusively on made-in-the-USA brands and brands that I liked that I could find in New York, that I could find online, but had no commercial presence. in Chicago at the time,” he said.

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Tattooed Boots at Independence, 1909 W. Division St. at Wicker Park

Since then, Independence has moved from its first small store on the Gold Coast to West Loop before settling in Wicker Park, where Vlagos lived for many years.

“I always wanted Independence to be there, and there was never the right place. And when we were looking, there was still no room on Division. But we heard that Neighborly was going to move .. And I was immediately like, ‘This is it. This seems right. This will be the long-term home of independence,’ he said.

The reception in the store has been great, Vlagos said. Earlier this month, the members of Rage Against The Machine stopped by when they were in town to play a show at the United Center.

They aren’t the first famous musicians to shop at Independence over the years. Vlagos said he sold clothes and shoes to the Avett Brothers, Jack White and rapper Earl Sweatshirt, among others.

“Shoes were kind of the draw initially. This is what we are best known for. But Independence is basically the flagship home of Oak Street Bootmakers and all these other great American-made brands,” he said.

Independence is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Monday.

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Independence menswear store opened in mid-May on Division Street in the former home of Neighborly’s Wicker Park
Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Hats, sweaters and other items at Independence, 1909 W. Division St. in Wicker Park

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