Fashion and history of Bucktown neighborhood in Chicago

Bucktown is packed full of trendy restaurants, independent boutiques, galleries, and hip bars. This neighborhood sits just northwest of the loop on the eastern edge of Logan Square. Although the exact boundaries of the neighborhood are widely disputed the general consensus seems to be the Kennedy Expressway to the east, Western Avenue to the west, Fullerton Avenue to the north, and Bloomingdale Avenue to the south.

The name “Bucktown” originates from the large number of goats that were raised in the backyards of many of the early Polish settlers. Up until the 1990s the neighborhood consisted mainly of Poles, Germans, and Latinos. But in more recent years Bucktown has been privy to a widespread gentrification process that transformed the population into one of young professionals. The clientele includes everyone from new moms to young workingwomen to trendy college students. Many of the shoppers live locally but during the weekends there is an influx of tourists and other Chicago residents.

Although Bucktown is largely residential there are a number of fashionable boutiques throughout the neighborhood. The majority of the stores are located either on Damen Avenue or Milwaukee Avenue. On these streets you can find anything from trendy clothing pieces to unique furniture items to delicious meals – there is even an entire store dedicated to ribbon. There are stores that feature streamlined, sophisticated designs right next door to a store whose window display features a neon Chanel logo and even brighter handbags. But the characteristic that all these stores have in common is an interest in everything trendy – even the nail salons look hip!

The streets that border Wicker Park tend to have higher end chain stores such as BCBG, Marc Jacobs, Cynthia Rowley, and Nanette Lepore. But as you venture further north you will find more and more independent boutiques, many of which carry local designers. The majority of the clothing can be described as dressy casual, with many of the clothes work ready. There is a minimalist theme throughout the neighborhood that can be seen in both the clothing and in the boutiques themselves.

Vividbraille, located at 2064 North Damen Avenue, stocks a locally produced men and women’s line. Down the street Claudia Kleiner (1872 North Damen Avenue) stocks her own pieces as well as clothing from other local designers, two of which are currently from Chicago. Located right next door is another neighborhood gem, Michelle Tan, also located at 1872 North Damen Ave. This boutique makes a point of only carrying Chicago designers in addition to the purses that she designs herself.

As you get further north the prices begin to drop from the $100-$500 price range to the $50-$200 price point. These stores tend to cater to a younger audience, with the average customer in their mid-twenties to thirties.

In addition to great shopping this neighborhood plays host to a thriving art and theatre scene. Bucktown is home to more artists than any other area in the Midwest so it comes as no surprise that the Bucktown Arts Festival, hosted in August, is one of Chicago’s premier art festivals. Once a year artists of all types gather here to sell their wares and perform for crowds of people.

This love of the arts complements the sophisticated, trendy, and artistic people who shop here. One thing all these consumers have in common is a love for well-made clothing, an interest that is made apparent by the types of stores that fill the streets of Bucktown.

Photos by Hannah Howcroft. Illustration by Teya Bozhilova.

Leave a Reply