I trust Nick Heitzman. When I walk into his apparel shop, Chameleon Clothing on Oak Park Avenue, I know exactly what to expect. Besides the contemporary artwork of local artists festooning his walls and music that’s simultaneously invigorating and relaxing, I expect fresh, fun, and affordable designs. Sophisticated and trendy clothing for men and women, ranging from well made denim, to stylish coats, to perfect party dresses mingled with honest feedback equate to a relaxed, sigh-inducing shopping experience.
Nick won’t offer preconceived notions about what you should be wearing and you won’t be made to feel guilty for leaving without articles of clothing you didn’t come to buy in the first place. The experience is more like a vacation that turns out exactly the way you had hoped, where everything falls into place, and you leave with the thought that it would be nice to return again soon.
The Oak Park native never expected to be the proprietor of an independent retail shop. He studied Illustration and Design at the Academy of Art College in California, and went on to work in the culinary arts. After ten years in the culinary field, Nick decided to retire from the profession and moved on to his “second incarnation.”
His foray into fashion seemed like a fluid shift. With an eye for design, Nick predicted it would be a rewarding and edifying endeavor to bring contemporary apparel to the neighborhood where he grew up. In 2007 he decided to open Chameleon and shares, “It has been an exciting and thrilling experience.”
Nick has a strong eye for smart, fresh fashion, bringing disparate brands to his store that you can work in or play in. He carefully selects designs with a modern aesthetic and clean lines. He understands that clothes are an integral part of our lives; he chooses apparel for his store that fits ones body as well as lifestyle and personality. Nick relates to his customers with ease, male or female, interacting with each and everyone without pretense.
He has enhanced his merchandise assortment over the years to include accessories such as belts, handbags, sunglasses, and lifestyle products. He recently added footwear – Tretorn rubber boots – to his docket (just in time for the rainy weather!).
If you ask about the clothing lines that dot the walls and pepper the racks, he doesn’t drone on for hours reciting facts and figures, instead he lights up and suddenly it’s as if each line is a clever family member that Nick is extremely fond of and proud of; and he’s happy to share stories.
Nick will remind you these brands are more than just a pretty face. He chooses lines that speak to his environmental consciousness. Organic and sustainable products, eco-friendly dyeing, biodegradable bags for the protection of garments, low carbon emission in the transport of product, and the humane treatment of animals where animal-based materials are used – it’s no wonder he’s proud of these lines.
You’ll find the remarkably green manufacturer, WeSC of Sweden, a company committed to issues concerning corporate social responsibility. WeSC supplies smart and versatile sportswear for ladies and men. You’ll also find the always-reliable Ben Sherman, a men’s casual wear brand out of the UK. Ben Sherman is renowned for their popular button-down Oxford shirts, offered in diverse fits and styles.
Another green member of Nick’s family of lines is SkunkFunk, devoted to having a low impact on the environment using sustainable materials and manufacturing processes. SkunkFunk hosts an amazingly hip line of men’s and women’s clothing that includes head-turning handbags. SkunkFunk is like the quirky aunt who isn’t afraid to express herself. Natural hues and pops of color make this line especially endearing. And Mata Traders is one of my favorite lines, a young, fair-trade company that works to empower women by providing the opportunity to make and sell their beautiful, hand-made apparel and accessories.
With a family of fine lines such as this, it is no wonder that Nick derives so much joy from his daily responsibilities as a shopkeeper at Chameleon.
Take a peak at Chameleon’s online webstore at www.chameleonclothing.bigcartel.com. You can also visit www.chameleonoakpark.com or stop by 130 N. Oak Park Avenue to view the full collection of clothing lines.
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