WEST TOWN – Two brothers have opened a streetwear pop-up in West Town, selling custom-designed and screen-printed clothing directly from the store.
Kone Ranger is the project of Wicker Park residents Konrad and Kevin Eiring, who have been selling “upcycled” t-shirts, pants and other clothing under the brand online since 2020.
“We take clothes that we have selected, then we add hand sewing, hand painting, screen printing, custom patches, and basically transform the clothes, use dyes, paints and inks to take a piece of clothing that would have gone to the landfill…and give it a whole new life,” Konrad Eiring said.
The design studio is the latest tenant in the West Town Chamber of Commerce’s Pop-Up Project space, 1821 W. Chicago Ave., which grants short-term leases to small businesses that rotate every few months. The store has previously hosted the Chicago Makers Pop-Up Shop, Kiss The Brain Gallery, and The Unwaste Shop, among others.
The Eirings sell both custom and unique pieces as well as their seasonal collections, which are more mass-produced. Clothing often features denim and camouflage, and what Konrad Eiring called “Western flair”.
“We mix that cowboy aesthetic with a tough Chicago grit,” Konrad Eiring said. “I’ve always said clothes are costumes. It’s like how we choose to adorn our bodies, and how we do that, we organize pieces and personalize them even more.
Kone Ranger’s origins date back to 2019, when Konrad Eiring started designing clothes while living with his brother for the summer and selling them at a local store. He said it was the moment he realized he could turn his passion for photography and design into a career.
“It was like okay, lightbulb, this can actually be a thing if you really invest in it and trust your process and keep creating, it can be a real thing,” Konrad Eiring said.
Kevin Eiring officially got involved in the fall of 2020. He handles more of the logistical side of the business, but also screen prints shirts and other apparel with his brother.
“It was cool to get back into that artistic mindset and learn something completely new. Like, I’ve never screen-printed before,” he said. “But it’s cool to get to challenge, to step out of your comfort zone.”
The Eirings said that because they are brothers, they were able to support each other in ways that other business partners could not.
“I need someone to say ‘yes, it’s fine’ or ‘no, you’re crazy’, and it was helpful to have someone I trust in my life to be able to [say] we have to keep creating, we have to keep sharing, we have to love staying true to this mission and we can make things happen,” said Konrad Eiring.
Opening a brick-and-mortar store has been a goal of the Eirings for some time, not least because of the nature of the clothes they sell.
“I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable buying something like this, so unique, online because you want to try things, you want to smell them, you want to see what it looks like in the mirror, you want to see how it drapes your body,” Konrad Eiring said. “So to have that space now, to have people come in and try things on and experiment with the garment…has been phenomenal.”
Kone Ranger will operate in the pop-up space in West Town until the end of March, before moving to a permanent location in Logan Square by May.
The brothers hope their showcase will become a space where artists of all kinds can collaborate and exchange ideas. They recently held a photo shoot with a local musician and plan to hold classes and workshops.
“We have a very tough aesthetic. But… our mission statement is about balance. And it’s about finding beauty and things that are very hard and things that are very soft and safe and mixing that,” Konrad Eiring said. “I want the space to be a welcoming space and a creative and positive collaborative space that is for everyone.”
Kone Ranger is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
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