One day is all it took for Gibeon Tolbert to whip up the street-savvy, versatile vest he’s sporting. “It’s made of reversible wool, and you can dress it up or down,” explains the style pro, who wanted to wear something “representative of my unique work” for our photo shoot. Given the scope of his oeuvre, we’d say this is only the tip of his proverbial iceberg, which includes designing, fabricating and styling outfits of every ilk—even entire wardrobes.
Over the course of one month this winter, Tolbert designed casual and dress clothes for three Chicago Bulls (Tyrus Thomas and rookies Taj Gibson and James Johnson), made-to-order jackets and pants for restaurant impresarios Jerry Kleiner and Donnie Madia, dresses for two high-power female bankers and six dozen sharply tailored uniforms for the serving fleet at The Publican.
Tolbert, 38, got his start right out of high school assisting Chicago designer Barbara Bates, who also happens to be his aunt, then moved on to Fishman’s Fabrics 10 years ago. After outselling the store’s entire staff in his first year (and doing his own couture work on the side) he was promoted to manager, a position he holds to this day. Tolbert finds the double-gig is ideal. “I get first pick at the best fabrics in the world,” he points out. Custom pieces start at $200 for pants, $350 for dresses and $1,000 for a suit (plus fabric costs); styling services are complimentary for clients. Gibeon Tolbert, 312-296-7337