Chicago is known for many things: Gibson’s steak, Kanye’s attitude, Oprah’s advice and now? Pop up purses.
Fashion duo Jen Gerenraich and Lori Wallis, also known as JGeren, are launching a new line of city-inspired purses, pouches and satchels created exclusively with locally sourced- and locally-tanned cows. The hand-stitched pieces, though pricey, showcase a quality normally expected of other high end brands. Named after four Chicago streets – Cedar, Astor, Hudson and Sheridan – each purse has a unique silhouette and a different function in a woman’s purse wardrobe. Each purse can also be found at a special pop-up shop through Christmas Eve at the 900 North Michigan Shops on the fourth floor. (And from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 14 and 15, the ladies will participate in a trunk show with clothing designer and artist Samantha Sleeper in the same location.)
The purses are made from grass-fed cows that provide steerhide that is in turn turned into both English bridle leather and tornado glove leather. This is notable given that many fine leathers are imported from Argentina, India, China and other places. The bags, which are lined in leather or suede, are handcut and sewn in a facility in Cicero. Due to this meticulous detail, the prices rival the lower-end price points of higher-end brands such as Louis Vuitton and Longchamp. Gerenraich hopes to help reintroduce Chicago to the fashion map.
Says Gerenraich: “We are dedicated to creating jobs here, rebuilding the fashion industry in Chicago and hopefully influencing others to do the same.”
– Adrienne Samuels Gibbs