Last weekend I was in Chicago for StyleMax and the new Chicago Fashion Outlets. I always enjoy attending StyleMax, which is a buying show for the next retail season with hundreds of vendors showing thousands of lines. A fashion lover’s paradise, which most boutique owners are.
Here are some of the latest (aren’t at retailers yet) styles that were at StyleMax.
The day after StyleMax, I visited the new Fashion Outlets in Rosemont, which was the second day it was open. I was expecting great things because I went on to their website and saw there were a number of designer stores. Since you probably will want to visit also, I want to let you know exactly what to expect. The good thing is it’s right off of 294, so easy to find. The logistics go downhill quickly after that.
There were people directing traffic because it was so busy which was helpful but honestly, I don’t see the crowds dwindling any time soon and once the traffic people are gone, it’s going to be chaotic. There’s a huge parking ramp you park in which is confusing and traffic goes 2 ways which gets dangerous with large parked vehicles jutting out into driving space.
Another pet peeve is that you have to pay for parking. I absolutely hate paying for parking and in downtown Chicago, it’s expected. But in a suburb shopping mall? Really? You want me to pay to spend money at your establishment. That doesn’t sit right at all with me. It honestly makes me not want to bother. I had high hopes for this mall as a destination for personal shopping with my clients, but not so much now.
When I get there it’s lunch time and I’m hungry so I want something to eat. Now to keep all of this in perspective, remember this is a brand new mall with high end stores. The door I enter is right near the food court so I go check it out. Because of the image surrounding this mall, I had high hopes. And….they were dashed to bits. It was very disappointing with about 8 places to choose from, all that you will find at your local mall. Nothing amazing, exciting or delicious. The best place there is freshii which is a vegetarian vendor. Other than that, skip it. There’s not even a McDonalds or other well known fast food place there. So bring a bunch of snacks.
And to take it a step further, there are no good eateries in the whole mall. No Garrett popcorn, no Jamba Juice, no cupcake place, no bakery of any kind, no anything. The only food kiosk there is an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. Pretzels are great but sometimes you want something different. There was also a frozen yogurt place. Overall very disappointing! Like I said, bring a bunch of snacks.
On to the stores. I wasn’t disappointed from what I’d seen on their website. Some of the stores I enjoy for myself and clients are: AllSaints, Barney’s Warehouse, Bloomingdale’s Outlet, Brunello Cucinelli, Calypso St. Barth, DKNY, Elie Tahari, Armani, Gucci, Herve Leger, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Ports 1961, Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth, Theory, Tory Burch, Worth, Hugo Boss, Perry Ellis, LK Bennett London, Vince Camuto, and Longchamp. A few of the stores had lines to get in, so I skipped those. This list isn’t everything that I like there, I just mentioned the high end stores that I don’t see at other outlet malls.
Remember the parking issues? Well, getting out is just as bad if not worse because you’re dodging cars coming in and there’s not much space to move out of their way. Then you have to wait for tons of traffic and people going across the roundabouts. Hopefully at some point the crowds will die down and there will be fewer logistic issues. I wouldn’t count on it any time soon though.
I told you I’d give you the real deal. If you’re adventurous, and you don’t mind dealing with tons of traffic and large crowds, the stores do make it worth going. Just make sure you bring your own food and beverages.