David Shelis and his wife Wendi Gordon Shelis started their Chicago-based kidswear store Madison and Friends in 1996 so they could dress their newborn daughter Madison in cool clothes. In 2002, the store moved locations and soon after, the basement was converted into The Denim Lounge, a jeanswear store for men, women and kids. Today, Madison and Friends is still a thriving kidswear shop and there are two Denim Lounge locations. The Denim Lounge recently named Best Denim Store in Chicago by TimeOut magazine. Here, David discusses his bestsellers, Midwestern style and the importance of in-store events.

“[Selling best] overall, it has been the cleaner, the better—across the board for men, women and kids–with lots of dark washes. Guys are also liking jeans with some stretch while women’s styles with X-Fit stretchy cotton are doing well. The best ones are dark with not a lot of holes and not a lot of stressing.

As far as brands, for women there is DL 1960, a new brand called Henry & Belle and J Brand and Paige still do good. For men, Paige’s brand PPD has taken off. It and Hudson for men are our two best brands.

Chicago is generally 9 to 12 months behind current fashion. For spring, it is about the return of the wide leg and some of our more fashion-forward customers have been asking for flares and that a little bit. But generally, our customer is a traditional Midwest girl who is still into skinny and straight.

In-store special events are important to us. We do a lot of private special events where different companies will rent the space and they will buy all their clients a pair of jeans. In fact, that’s a majority of our business in the fourth quarter. We are having a Henry & Belle party tomorrow night and we are doing more events using our mailing list. We don’t want to do them just for the sake of doing them.”