• Meet the first lady of Chicago fashion
• Find rare luxury bath products and imported soaps at a classic apothecary
• Browse the latest styles at the city’s coolest shoe emporium
Conrad Chicago is ideally positioned for shopping the major fashion brands and department stores along Michigan Avenue and Oak Street. But step off those main drags and you’ll find one-of-a-kind local boutiques, all within striking distance of the hotel, in River North and the nearby Loop. First up: Ikram, two blocks from the Conrad, founded by Ikram Goldman, whom Vogue called “the first lady of Chicago fashion” (she’s Michelle Obama’s unofficial stylist). Behind the shop’s striking red façade, Goldman curates the best pieces from international names (McQueen, Rodarte, Proenza Schouler) as well as stunning vintage jewelry. There’s an in-store café and rotating art exhibitions on the second floor. Afterward, make your way to the Loop for hard-to-find bath and grooming products at the downtown branch of Merz Apothecary, a Chicago stalwart since 1875. (We love the shaving creams from Geo. F. Trumper.) A few blocks further south, the landmark Monadnock Building was the largest office building on the planet when it was completed in 1893. Today its tenants include three must-hit fashion stops: Optimo Hats, a Chicago-based hatmaker, that produces high quality mens classics such as fedoras and porkpies just to name a few; Florodora, with contemporary women’s clothing from labels such as Yoana Baraschi, Sita Murt and local designer Anna Hovet; and Florodora’s spin-off, Florodora Shoes, the style set’s go-to for funky, creative footwear by brands including Coclico and All Black.
Ikram is a one-minute walk north of the Conrad Chicago, on East Huron Street between Wabash and State. From there it’s a 10-minute taxi ride (or a 30-minute walk) down State Street to the boutiques of the Loop: Merz, in the Palmer House Hilton building on East Monroe Street between State and Wabash, and Optimo Hats, Florodora, and Florodora Shoes, all clustered in the Monadnock Building, three blocks further south on South Dearborn Street between Jackson and Van Buren.
IKRAM: 15 E. Huron St.; 312-587-1000; ikram.com; 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, closed Sunday.
MERZ DOWNTOWN: 17 E. Monroe St.; 312-781-6900; merzapothecary.com; 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sunday.
OPTIMO HATS: 320 S. Dearborn St.; 312-922-2999; optimo.com; 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday to Saturday, closed Sunday.
FLORODORA: 330 S. Dearborn St.; 312-212-8860; florodora.com; 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. –5 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.
FLORODORA SHOES: 348 S. Dearborn St.; 312-212-8860; florodora.com; 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.