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A sleek, gray and black shopping area at SVRN
Photograph: Courtesy of WGNB

A luxury streetwear shop in the West Loop gets a Korean-inspired remodel

SVRN debuted the new digs at a launch party last week.

Jesus J. Montero
Written by
Jesus J. Montero

SVRN, a multi-brand luxury retailer in the West Loop, reopened this month after a year of ideation and five months of construction, unveiling a 4,200-square-foot expansion and innovative Korean architectural design for an immersive customer experience—and to highlight the company’s Korean roots. 

CEO David “Oogie” Kim, who opened SVRN (pronounced “sovereign”) in 2019, says his family's Korean heritage and story as an immigrant business owner have long been embedded into the fabric of their store and philosophy. The multi-brand luxury retailer carries accounts with Nike, Jordan and Adidas as well as the likes of Rick Owens, Marni and Issey Miyake, striking a balance between streetwear and luxury. Kim’s family has a long legacy within Chicago’s street and sneaker community having created the sneaker store Dream Town, which was a 1980s mecca for everything Chicago Bulls and the Olympic Dream Team. 

The SVRN renovation highlights the family’s heritage through the materials and techniques inspired by Korean aesthetics. Kim worked with Seoul-based design studio WGNB—winner of Dezeen’s Emerging Interior Design Studio of the Year 2021—to complete the redesign, marking, the firm’s first project in North America.

“Everything in the store has a purpose,” Kim says. “It’s all purposeful by the shapes, textures, the way they look—they're all just a representation of who we are and where we came from.”

The new spatial layout of SVRN space was designed to create a sense of openness in the space, with a layout of concrete and natural stones that eliminates any visual tension.  

“You open the doors and come in and it's a sense of calmness, soothing, it's warm and inviting,” Kim says.  “It's peaceful. It makes you change and feel something, it's not just a store. It's art.” 

To celebrate the completion of the extensive remodeling, SVRN held a private grand reopening where guests sipped specialty crafted cocktails and ate hors d’oeuvres from another West Loop Korean staple, Perilla Korean American Fare. Over the course of the event, SVRN team members walked attendees through the goals for the store’s new space, including the hope that it would function as a creative hub for Chicago’s creative and fashion communities. 

“Our whole mantra has been being this epicenter for all these industries to collaborate,” SVRN director of special projects and collaborations Liam Klancic said at the reopening. “When they otherwise may have not, or met each other in a central space, it's inviting and all-inclusive for all these industries.” 

DJ Smedley, the lead design consultant, said that desire is reflected in the harmonious, open aspect of the remodel.  

“The intention was to cultivate a space tied to the experimental brands that we carry and make sure that it felt immersive, comfortable, and distinguishable from other storefronts and brick and mortars—not just in Chicago, but across the nation,” Smedley said. 

Shoppers can explore the new Korean-influenced design at SVRN’s West Loop storefront, located at 171 N Aberdeen, Tuesday through Sunday from 11am-7pm and Sunday through Monday from 11am-5pm. As for what’s next, keep an eye out for new locations—Adam Pirtle, the store’s COO, says SVRN is planning to expand globally. For now, though, the team is focused on connecting with its Chicago community. 

“We're in a great neighborhood and have a great fan base to cultivate those relationships,” Klancic says.

Take a look at photos from the opening below. 

A man browses clothing at SVRN
Photograph: Jesus J. Montero
Two women browse clothing at SVRN
Photograph: Jesus J. Montero
Black and red sneakers on a black shelf
Photograph: Jesus J. Montero
Crowds at the SVRN store opening
Photograph: Jesus J. Montero
Sneakers in a variety of colors on a black shelf
Photograph: Jesus J. Montero

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