CHICAGO — Designer Maria Pinto’s new retail store showcasing her M2057 line is expected to open in November in the city’s West Loop neighborhood.
Located at 833 West Washington Street in the meatpacking district across from Soho House, Pinto said she was drawn to the neighborhood for its mix of art galleries and eclectic neighbors. “I’m a West Looper from way back,” Pinto said.
Designed by Chicago-based interior designer Scott Heuvelhorst — who also designed her first retail store on Jefferson Street that shuttered in 2010 along with the closing of her luxury label — the 2,200-square-foot space will include offices and about 1,500 square feet devoted to retail.
The light-filled industrial-looking space features wood floors that resemble concrete, high ceilings, a gray painted interior and two all-glass walls. Pinto, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has resumed painting and her artwork will be displayed in the store.
“The collection is about this urban modern woman so the store has this modern vibe. It’s very minimal. Think more of an art gallery space than clothing store,” Pinto said.
Unlike a traditional retail store, Pinto will carry a limited number of apparel samples on the selling floor. This lessens the amount of real estate needed for inventory.
“People still want to touch and feel. We’re calling our stores ‘studios.’ [People will] come in and see an editorial display of the pieces of the collection. We’ll have sizes in the styles they want to try on,” said Pinto, adding that she’s tried this formula at her pop-up shop in Lincoln Park and it’s been successful. “[Customers] will buy it, but they won’t leave with it. If it’s in the style they want and the color they want, they can have that piece. Otherwise they will have to wait.”
Pinto, who rose to national acclaim as one of First Lady Michelle Obama’s favorite designers only to then face a financial squeeze during the recession, said the goal is to eventually open about eight to 10 “studios” around the country.
“Next year, it will be 25 years since I started designing. People always ask me to do my luxury pieces. I may do a tiny capsule for the anniversary year,” said Pinto, whose luxury label at one point during the momentum from Obama was carried at Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York and other high-end boutiques. “Right now, I think this is more interesting and relevant.”
With all pieces constructed in washable Italian nylon elastic, the M2057 line retails from $275 to $500 for dresses, $300 to $695 for jackets and for fall, there will be more constructed pieces retailing for about $500. The entire line is made in the U.S. On the heels of the store opening and to celebrate the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Pinto will design a limited-edition, six-piece collection inspired by renowned architect Jeanne Gang. Photographer Sandro Miller shot the campaign and the collection will launch online Oct. 1. Prices are still being decided.