Jake has been the premier boutique for up-and-coming designers in the Midwest, holding its own against any NYC shop. In fact, even local fashionistas often relied on Jake's e-commerce store as a resource for designer wares that were hard to find or sold out here in the city. News that the Chicago store has filed for bankruptcy and will soon close its doors is a tough indicator of the country's boutique scene overall.
Sadly, the closure was preceded by some sticky legal action from a handful of 28 designers including Phillip Lim, Band of Outsiders and others, after Jake failed to pay them. The Times even used the boutique as an example of how the recession has particularly hit boutique owners hard back in the summer of 2009 (an indication of how long the store has actually be in trouble). Co-founders Lance Lawson and Jim Wetzel cited the recession as the vehicle for the store's demise, which began in 2008 when two of the three Jake locations were forced to close. Chicago's independent high-end retailers have been hit particularly hard by the downturn, as Jake follows in the footsteps of the recent shuttering of Maria Pinto and Ultimo.
Wetzel and Lawson were candid about the flaws that ultimately caused the business to crumble, but remain optimistic -- they'll be opening a pop-up called Space 519 in Michigan Avenue's 900 Shops in May, with plans to sell accessories, entertainment and home goods.