Art Effect’s decor meshes well with the Lincoln Park boutique’s eclectic mix of apparel and home products.
This story first appeared in the October 9, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
With its whimsical collection of artsy clothes, funky gifts, offbeat diningware and chic accessories, Art Effect has catered to the trend-conscious shopper in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood for nearly two decades.
Now, shoppers can find that Sanctuary blouse or pair of Jordan Scott earrings in a bigger space, with more light and color. The shop moved in August to 934 Armitage Avenue, from the 600 block of Armitage. Located on the corner of Bissell Street immediately off the Armitage “L” stop, in an area densely populated with boutiques, spas and restaurants, Art Effect generates more foot traffic and interest than it did before. “We see so many customers who had never heard of us before,” said Sibylle Gander, the store’s manager and buyer.
At 3,200 square feet, the new Art Effect has about 500 additional square feet than the previous space, which owner Esther Fishman started as a consignment shop for wearable art 18 years ago. She made the move to the plum corner spot after the previous building’s owner decided to sell.
Fishman beefed up her gift offerings, which begin at the front of the store and spread through three rooms with high-ceilings and brick walls. Scattered throughout the space are stainless steel shelves and distressed wooden cabinets that offer up everything from silver cocktail shakers and espresso makers to travel and entertaining books.
In the move, Fishman, who handles all the design herself, kept much of what gives the store its charm — the multicolored dressing-room doors created by artist Floyd Gompf and Fishman’s collection of maps and globes. World maps, some dating back to the Cold War era, wrap around the checkout counter and cover one wall in the back. A black globe with fluorescent-colored countries perches in one window as if to alert passersby to the importance of travel.
Fishman scours flea markets for vintage finds, all of which add to the store’s decor, but which are for sale as well. Some of the pieces she acquired include globes, funky vases, candlesticks and jewelry. Most recently, she snagged “Mr. and Mrs.” pillowcases for the wedding section, a tiny corner of the store tucked near the scented lotions and kitchenware.
Colored drawings hung throughout the store subtly reflect the merchandise: botanical prints near the gardening and home section, perfume bottles by the wedding paraphernalia, men and women’s undergarments stacked, curiously enough, above the silver bar sets.
Fishman set aside an entire room for her denim and T-shirt collections, including Three Dots and Billy Blue. “We have a lot of younger customers now, like the Lincoln Park woman who is single and going out every Friday and Saturday night,” Gander said. “At the same time, we still want to offer something for the woman in her 40s and 50s who knows fashion.”
Clothing choices range from $24 peasant skirts to more expensive classic items, such as a $370 knit sweater by Robin Richman. Included are plenty of accessories: Italian shoes and chunky earrings and necklaces that also come in a wide range of prices. While the pieces can be serious, Fishman’s displays stick to the whimsical, such as This and That vinyl bags in every hue lined up above the dressing rooms like colored flowers on a fence. Next month, however, they might end up somewhere else.
“My theory is that the space is always in a state of flux,” Fishman says. “We are always changing our displays so that they look fresh.”