By  on March 28, 2005

CHICAGO — With a soaring, mirror-tiled replica of the Sears Tower to greet visitors, Barneys New York opened its newest Co-op venture in Chicago Thursday night.

The store, at 2209 North Halstead Street in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, will offer lines from Marc by Marc Jacobs and Seven For All Mankind, among others.

“It’s like people are pounding down the door saying, ‘Thank God you came,’” said Simon Doonan, Barney’s creative director.

The two-story space is the seventh freestanding Co-op, with the others in New York, Miami, Atlanta and Costa Mesa, Calif. Barneys said Friday that, in the fall, it would open its eighth Co-op store at The Collection at Chevy Chase, Md. With 11,400 square feet, the unit will be the largest freestanding Co-op unit. The Collection at Chevy Chase, 5471-5481 Wisconsin Avenue, is on the border of Washington and Chevy Chase. It’s considered the area’s first true designer enclave and is scheduled to open in October.

The Chicago store, like the other locations, features a strong selection of high-end denim. While Rogan is getting hotter and Salt, with its higher rise, is gaining an audience, the newest denim line to create buzz is Antik, featuring stretch denim with elaborate hand-embroidery on the pockets and hand-lacing at the hem.

“We love a bit of craft,” Doonan said. “Something that’s luxurious, that’s got a lot of work in it.”

Antik’s $260 price point doesn’t appear to be deterring customers.

“If women even hear something makes your butt look good, they’re there,” Doonan said. “Even if it’s just a rumor.”

The Co-op is Barneys second venture in the Chicago market. The company has been operating a flagship store on Oak Street for more than 10 years.

“We do great business in our [Oak Street] flagship store,’’ said Howard Socol, chairman and chief executive officer of Barneys New York. “Barneys Co-op is a way to bring in a new audience — a younger, more contemporary audience who’s at the cutting edge of fashion. And they may start off as a Co-op customer and grow into a luxury customer, so that’s a good thing. It helps us retain the audience.”With its heavily trafficked streets and sidewalks filled with young, urban professionals, Lincoln Park seems an ideal location for the Co-op store.

“Every time I go to New York, I make it a point to go [to the Co-op], so this is great,” said Katie Stone of Chicago. “I think it’s going to do really well here.”

Socol said, “We have a very strong following wherever we go. We feel we can eventually become a national chain.”

The audience at the grand-opening party seemed primed to match Doonan’s expectations. Sponsored by TimeOut Chicago, the party attracted almost 450 people.

“I think [the Co-op] is going to add a little more funkiness to the neighborhood,” said Debra Hollander of Lincoln Park.

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