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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, December 3

Gapers Block

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Fashion Thu Mar 18 2010

Designing the Perfect Commuter Friendly Shirt

nonetheless.jpgLocal designer Jonathan Shaun has a bit of an on-again, off-again relationship with fashion design. Not so much because he doesn't love his job, having worked with eco-friendly designers Nau, Topo Ranch and Connect Chicago, but rather he's constantly in search of inspiration.

But in his journey, Shaun noticed something was missing.

He wanted a commuter-friendly dress shirt you could take from the bike to the boardroom, then maybe out later for drinks. The ultimate performance dress shirt. One that didn't compromise on aesthetics and high-end tailoring, but still offered freedom of movement and breathability.

"It's what I call a less-is-more philosophy," Shaun says. And that's what he created here in Chicago.

Produced in a production house outside Wicker Park, these environmentally friendly, couture-quality, multi-functional shirts have a long list of features. The 3-Way dress shirt's performance specifications include a patent-pending ventilation system underneath the armpits; thin, tiny zippered hidden storage pockets on the sides; a thin expandable vertical seam down the spine and elongated arms for freedom of movement; and tie-down flaps to hold rolled-up sleeves in place, to name a few. There's also a Wool/PET blend dress tie component which has button holes on the back to pin down to your shirt, for when the commute gets windy. Pants and a possible women's line are forthcoming.And if that wasn't enough, Shaun was able to acquire iconic fabrics from London-based high-end design house, Burberry to use in the shirts' interior trim; collar and sleeve cuffs; and pocket linings.

Following a triple bottom line business model (People, Planet and Not-Just-For-Profit), Nonetheless is also donating 3 to 20 percent of its proceeds to socially conscious 501c3 organizations such as the Academy for Global Citizenship and Creative Pitch, to name a few forms of outreach.

There are two ways to purchase the Nonetheless 3-Way dress shirt: At, if you pledge $95, Shaun says you can get it by June, with generous gifts. But if you simply can't wait until then, is selling them made-to-order to arrive by May 1, but that's going to cost you $168. After the line launches, Connect Chicago, in Wicker Park and Lincoln Park will carry select pieces.

So, what's the big deal about this seemingly flawless, made-in-Chicago clothing line? Gapers Block recently spoke with Shaun for the details.

What is the main point of Nonetheless and who is it designed for?
They're [to address] the commuter, urban garment element missing. You can literally ride in these garments to work, seamlessly go to client meetings and then hang out and celebrate life in the evenings without compromising mobility or performance, or tailoring. ... The [forthcoming] pants for example, are a Japanese textile made from recycled wool and plastic bottles. It's suiting material, but it washable, because dry-cleaning is a shit storm for the environment. However, it is at the upmost high-end; my pattern makers are all couture pattern makers.

I've been a long time cyclist, snowboarder and I've lived in Chicago for more than 12 years commuting, which is why I didn't want to pigeonhole this and call it cycling wear. Commuting in this city is a sport within itself, so I just put all of his into play [while] utilizing my [experience] designing clothes. ... I had a snowboarding line in the '90s and a mountain bike clothing line; so, I put everything that I had [learned] over the years into these pieces.

Can you tell me a little more about all the attention-to-detail performance designs?
There's a two-button vent system, so there's actual button holes but you can't see it even though they're on the backside of the armpit. It's a very slight vent system, which we've got a patent-pending on. We're really stoked about. ... This is high end stuff, and when I say high end, I mean I'm going back to the roots of haberdasheries.

Another important thing is there is not a collection here. I will be putting out anywhere from 3-6 products out every 3-6 months, that's why it's a clothing line and not a clothing collection. I don't think it's environmentally and socially responsible to [come out with] a 12- or 24-, 70- piece line. For instance; If I had to think of 12 or 24 pieces, I probably wouldn't have been as innovative as I was on the 'Haberdasher tie,' or on the 'Dispatch Rider Pant' or definitely not the commuter 3-way dress shirt. I'm going to focus on key, creative, innovative pieces and really make those the focal points.

How did you acquire the fabrics from Burberry?
When you do something for 15 to 20 years of your life, you come to meeting people and networking. ... It was also actually by chance.

Any future plans for Nonetheless?
We have a very grassroots, whole sale plan that we haven't even really pushed yet. We're very vertically integrated, direct-to-customer for the most part. But you'll definitely see us in boutiques, outdoor stores, and we'll definitely have a strong digital [presence]. We have some interactive elements for the web that we've dubbed 'e-commerce 3.0.' It'll be interesting in time. When we [launch] the website, it'll be very impressive.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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