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PRSVR Designer to Open Pilsen Shop, Has Dressed Nelly, Nicki Minaj

By Chloe Riley | January 8, 2014 7:58am

PILSEN — A luxury Chicago-based clothing and luggage label, whose fashions have been donned by stars like Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj, is opening a storefront on 18th Street later this month.

The label, PRSVR (short for “persevere”) was originally started in Detroit by Brandon Williamson and Jermaine Barnwell, a duo that also started Sole Search, an app that allows users to search sneaker boutiques by city.

The success of Sole Search helped the duo get their clothes into the hands of stylists and the celebrities they worked for. Before long, an Instagram post showing recording artist and actress Teyana Taylor in a red leather PRSVR jogging suit had more than 50,000 “likes.”  

“It was kind of crazy how quickly everything caught on,” said Margaret Williamson, Brandon’s wife and PRSVR’s public relations coordinator. “Instagram has been the most amazing thing for us, we haven’t even done any paid advertising.”

Since then, celebrities like Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, and Nelly have also been photographed wearing PRSVR.

Last year, the Williamsons moved to Pilsen and opened an appointment-only showroom at 1104 W. 18th St. They had also been considering a move to L.A., but Margaret Williamson said the cheaper rents and friendly people kept them in the Midwest.

In September, after reclaimed furniture shop Modern Cooperative moved to Thalia Hall, Margaret Williamson said she jumped at the chance of moving and began the process of launching “Hours,” PRSVR’s first storefront, at the space vacated by the coop at 818 W. 18th St.

“Our whole message is this message of ‘persevere,’ Williamson said. “We thought Pilsen was a great place to watch people do that.”

The store’s clothes won’t be cheap. The brand’s signature pink-lined leather sweatpants and jackets carry a price tag of $500 to $700. Leather luggage runs from $400 to $600 and sneakers average around $300.

But Williamson said Hours would also carry less pricey items, like sweatsuits made of premium cotton — a new concept for the brand. Hours shoppers will also be able to buy other products, like wallets and passport holders, for a lower price than they would online. 

While her husband designs all their products, Margaret Williamson said the actual assembly of the handmade clothes is outsourced to India. Whenever possible, she said PRSVR also tries to use “slaughter-free leather,” meaning the animal is not killed solely for its skin.

As far as whether the Pilsen neighborhood will embrace the higher-end boutique, Williamson said: “Time will tell.”

“We know we’re going to have to become a destination spot in Chicago. We encourage everyone for the neighborhood to come in,” Williamson said. “Even if they never buy anything … if they take a pic or come in and have a conversation, that’s enough, that’s all we can ask for.

Hours’ grand opening is set for Jan. 25.