By Eric Paulsen Special to Published Jan 02, 2002 at 6:19 AM

Milwaukee Street, once the home of T.A. Chapman's, Hixon's, Rechmeyer Furs, and Lou Fritzel's, is again re-emerging as an upscale place to shop in Milwaukee. Today, nourished by Hotel Metro, a new condominium project, Elements East, the Three bar, and upcoming restaurants Eve and Rising Sun, Milwaukee Street gets yet another catalyst toward upscale urban shopping with the addition of Heidi Gilmore, a new high-end women's apparel store.

The opening of Heidi Gilmore brings the opportunity for a Milwaukee woman to have unique fashions custom-designed and manufactured for them, giving one's wardrobe a panache and style unique to her. Heidi Gilmore is the name of the store, the fashion line and the owner/designer. A graduate of UW-Madison, Gilmore attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York and worked for J. Crew and Calvin Klein before coming back to Milwaukee in 1997 to begin her own clothing line.


Upon starting Heidi Gilmore, Inc., she designed, had manufactured and sold her line of women's wear to individual customers and built up her business through networking from a Third Ward loft. Essentially, she was able to develop the unique situation: to have a mass customized women's apparel company with a one-to-one marketing business model.

In recent months, Gilmore was able to parlay her extensive word-of-mouth business into the new location at 715 N. Milwaukee St. Since her November 14 opening there, Gilmore has been able to display her clothing lines in the windows, sit with customers and design new clothes for them on the spot, and even size clothing pieces digitally.

An investor has helped her purchase a digital imaging machine and plotter that allows her to customize clothing to individual measurements; the software used is the first of its kind for a women's wear designer.

In addition to a well-established line of customized and ready-to-wear career and casual clothes, Heidi Gilmore offers jewelry and cashmere and silk scarves, designed in her studio. She also carries Three Dot, the popular west coast line of hip specialty tees and sweats.

Seasonal clothing lines are featured in the store, as well as color and pattern swaths for additional individual clothing customization. Some of her lines may be viewed soon on her website, The eventual goal for Heidi Gilmore is to add new locations in other cities while maintaining her base in Milwaukee.

"Part of the goal is to develop a more cosmopolitan atmosphere on Milwaukee Street," Gilmore says. "New stores, restaurants, bars and residences are opening up all over down here. For my line of clothes, this was the perfect place to set up shop."

American business traditionally began in individual storefronts. During the last few decades, stores have consolidated into strip malls, shopping centers and big-box, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink stores that often resulted in empty storefronts in many big city downtowns and small-town Main Streets.

This trend recently has begun a reversal, as people re-discover the pleasure of shopping along city streets and taking in the atmospheres of numerous individual stores and restaurants rather than one monolithic store in the suburbs. Heidi Gilmore and Milwaukee Street are the perfect example.

Eric Paulsen Special to
Eric Paulsen is a Milwaukee native but also grew up in Chicago, Detroit and Dallas, which means he’s never lived in a decent climate. Paulsen works as the Communications Officer for the Greater Milwaukee Committee, serves as a writer and contributor for commercials and a national TV show and pops up on 103.7 Kiss FM on weekends, doing his share of overplaying Top 40 hits. Previously, he was a business partner and director in a start-up online research company that began in 1998 and reached the Inc. 500 list by 2005. He was an early contributing writer for, dating back to 1999. He got his MBA from UW-Milwaukee in 2007 and also holds a BS in Consumer Science (a degree he can’t explain, either) from UW-Madison and thus cheers on the Badgers with reckless abandon. Eric is a graduate of the Future Milwaukee Leadership Program and participates in many community-minded events and initiatives, invited or not. When he’s not working, Paulsen enjoys running, road trips and practicing for a future career as a beer connoisseur.