Maria Pinto liquidating boutique

Local high profile designed Maria Pinto (we’ve discussed her store before) is closing down her boutique, located at 135 N. Jefferson St in the West Loop.

Maria Pinto

All of the praise for Michelle Obama’s grape- and tomato-colored sheaths couldn’t bear enough fruit to spare their Chicago-based designer — Maria Pinto — from the recession’s blight.

Pinto, whose work has been worn by not only the country’s first lady but also queen-of-talk Oprah Winfrey, will open her West Loop boutique for five final days starting Tuesday. Her daywear, eveningwear, wraps and one-of-a-kind accessories will be liquidated at 50 percent to 70 percent off their original prices.

In January, Pinto arrived at the decision to close her shop and cease wholesale operations, she said. A fashion designer for 20 years who previously worked for Geoffrey Beene, Pinto launched her own line in 1991. Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Takashimaya in New York, as well as high-end boutiques across the country, carried her pieces.

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I’ve glanced at her store window a few times, and I didn’t see any item that entranced me. Perhaps her best work was customized to particular customers, and not for display on a clothing rack.

And this statement mostly sounds true:

“In the general scheme of things, our store was doing very well. But our other retailers are paring down their open-to-buys (merchandise purchases) and looking to build sales through trunk shows,” she said. “It’s difficult because it makes your forecasted cash flow challenging. You’re waiting for the show to happen, waiting for things to happen. Before, the stores were committed to larger inventories.”

Any avid shopper can see the shift, she said.

“Walk through the stores and see how the stores are buying very differently. Saks had blast-out sales going in November 2008. November this year, there was very little in stores that was on sale. What was left was bottom-of-the-barrel. Everyone is having to reposition themselves.”

For 2009, total U.S. apparel sales fell 5.2 percent to $188.5 billion, market research firm NPD Group reported last month.

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