Two local style stars are elevating tween-age fashion—and championing sustainability in the process.
Heiji Choy Black and Elise Bergman are the stylish duo behind Jeune Otte.
With their recently launched label Jeune Otte, Heiji Choy Black and Elise Bergman aren’t just dressing girls ages 8 to 15, they’re educating the next generation of fashionistas. “So much teen/tween wear is overly provocative or too childish,” says Choy Black, who introduced Chicagoans to labels like Isabel Marant and Acne in the aughts as owner of Bucktown boutique Hejfina. “We want to be tasteful, elevated and also sustainable. It’s important to us, and we believe it’s important to the girls we dress.”
The Vera skirt ($275) features dual layers of circle-cut silk organza.
The duo use deadstock and mill-end fabric in natural fibers like silk, cotton and linen, and production is done locally, but the most important way they’re keeping it planet-friendly is through the designs themselves. “Part of being sustainable is creating designs that are seasonless and can build upon each other,” Bergman says. “We have signature collections that mix and match and are intended to be passed along to a younger sister or friend. We want to emphasize that idea of heirloom quality—beautifully made pieces you want to hold on to.”
"We find that the Byrne trousers [$225] make our girls look grown-up and sophisticated,” the designers say. “The girls who wear our clothes want to play around with silhouettes, and this has been a favorite so far.”
The latest crop of pieces rolled out in May and complement signature garments like the chic cropped blazer and classic chiffon blouse. “We’re trying to engage young women and make them feel like they’re seen and heard and have a way to express themselves through clothing,” Bergman says. “There’s an opportunity to make it bigger than a bat mitzvah dress.” Pieces from $95, Frankie’s on the Park, 2322 N. Clark St.
Portrait by Heather Talbert/courtesy of Jeune Otte; model photos by Carolina Rodriguez/courtesy of Jeune Otte