“Welcome to our closet!” Uncommon Closet states as you enter their website. Kate Burton, owner and founder of the clothing resource, runs her business out of Positive Space Studios (3520 W. Fullerton Ave.) and started in October 2017. Uncommon Closet is the only queer owned-and-operated tailor in the Logan Square neighborhood that offers custom clothing and tailor resources for the LGBTQIA+ community focusing on those with body types often overlooked by major clothing chains and stores, according to the site. They focus on ensuring their clients feels accepted and heard throughout each and every visit.
The Who, the What, the Where and the Why:
During a recent trip to California, Burton and her fiancée tried to find a tailor that would help alter clothes items her fiancé would feel fitted and comfortable in.
“My fiancée is a lovely trans woman,” Burton says. “She’s, like, 6’2″, broad chest, broad shoulders, and it is impossible finding her clothes.” Upon their return to Chicago, Burton found no resources here for these needs. She decided to change that. “There is a gap [in resources]—especially for my fiancé, I want her to be happy,” Burton says.
While the small pool of resources may be shallow, there is another local company that creates similar clothing and has been uplifting making the queer community’s clothing needs for four years. Rebirth Garments, started by Chicagoan Sky Cubacub in 2014, creates gender non-conforming wearables and accessories for people on the full spectrum of gender, size and ability but is only sold online.
Like Rebirth Garments, Burton started her business as an Etsy shop selling corsets, dresses and pants for people with uncommon body types.
“I realized quickly that Chicago needed a safe place to go to have tailoring done so I starting looking at spaces,” she says. “[Positive Space] was the first place I checked out and loved the owners and vibe of the studio.”
She says some have asked why Logan Square and not Boystown. Her answer embodies the local business support that outpours from the neighborhood, which she has felt since opening her physical space.
“It has been amazing—the support not only from the queer community but also hearing I am the only tailor in Logan Square,” she says. “Boystown has Boytown. We need places everywhere that are queer safe.”
After opening the doors in late 2017, business was strong and steady. As her Yelp reviews started getting stronger, so did her bookings. Now Burton has brought on a weekend employee and training a part-time employee to keep up with her business.
“Thirty percent of my clients are part of the queer community and the rest want to support a queer-owned company,” she notes.
Queerest Little Art Show at Positive Space Studios
On July 28, Burton and her team came together to host the first of what they hope to be many queer art shows at their home base. Each of the artists provided one or two pieces to show about what being queer means to them.
One of the artists, Savannah Nix, showed a piece she describes as ‘gender explosion’ titled “Untangled.” Nix explains that the art shows the tangled web of femininity and masculinity and how there is no way to straighten it out. Nix worked closely with their partner to show what it means to be a partner, she says.
Growing for the Uncommon Life
Diana Burton, Kate Burton’s family member and business partner, has talked about where she sees the Uncommon business growing into within the next three to five years.
“There is still a need for spaces where queer people can come and feel supported and safe, so let’s make that space happen,” Diana Buron says.
Kate and Diana were able to share that they are looking to expand their business and eventually make it into a salon where queer people can come to get their hair, nails, and waxing done.
“We envision the space being open and welcoming with art on the walls that support the queer community,” Kate Burton says. “We also want to ensure we stay queer owned and operated.”