Congruent Space is Leveling the Playing Field
Numbers such as followers or tickets sold can be vague representations of what an artist is truly capable of. Sometimes people just need a little guidance to reach their potential. To the people at 1216 W. Grand Avenue, an artist need only a congruent space to create their vision. At its core, congruence is the harmony between different but equal entities. By way of their home at Congruent Space, owners preme__xy, Vincent Manglardi, and Prosper Bambo, hope to establish a level playing field for the next generation of Chicago creatives.
As a conceptual platform, Congruent Space is the demonstration of integrating art and fashion. Creative director Preme says their form of expression is always evolving, “It’s pretty much always been this fluid thing that’s always growing to fit whoever wants to work with us.” It’s important for Congruent Space to be synonymous with collaboration. From Preme’s perspective, seeming unapproachable is counterproductive to the community they hope to elevate. “Like the way I see it, if you purposely don’t fuck with nobody until they’ve been merched by everyone else, you’ll instantly miss 60% of raw people.” The Congruent team is always looking for new ways to make their brand an experience and creating a tangible a space to showcase these ideas is all a part of the process.
"I still wanted to do a shop but I was so depressed, and just down for a whole year, but in my mind, I couldn't do anything else."
— Prosper Bambo
You can often catch Preme, Vincent, or Prosper on location throughout the week. Their doors are open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 2-8pm, Sundays from 2-6, and Mondays by appointment only. During those times, Congruent Space not only sells retail for various clothing designers but is also an adaptable art gallery as well. Since officially opening their doors in October of 2016, the Congruent Space team has hosted a variety of events and installations. Whether you’re looking for a location to shoot or a specialized aesthetic for your brand’s pop-up, Congruent Space can help provide a scope for your vision. As longtime members of Chicago’s art, fashion, and DIY scenes, founders Preme, Vincent, and Prosper have formed a sustainable platform for their ideas.
There’s a palpable sense of passion and experience between the three of them, and rightfully so. They’ve been around the Chicago scene since 2007. During this time, boutiques like St. Alfred’s, Leaders 1354, and Excess 5 (to name a few) were major intersections of Chicago’s creative communities. This was during Prosper’s four-year stint at the Akira Men’s store in Wicker Park. During his experience as the footwear buyer for Akira, Prosper learned the inner workings of maintaining a storefront. Based on his influential taste and overall knowledge of the fashion industry, Prosper quickly branded himself as a local tastemaker. Prosper remembers after leaving Akira, he was ready to make a change, “To be honest, it was just me talking to people at Akira. A lot of people kind of just listened. Eventually, there were a couple of people who really believed in me and literally, like,...invested.” Along with some old business acquaintances, Prosper tried his hand with another boutique called Vividbraille in 2010. After a while, Prosper couldn’t help but pursue his own concepts. He’d always wanted to merge art and fashion into one retail space, but unfortunately, it was back to the drawing board once again. “It was always on my mind after about 2013. Literally, after I lost Vividbraille, I still was like, ‘Fuck’. I still wanted to do a shop but I was so depressed, and just down for a whole year, but in my mind, I couldn't do anything else."
“Like the way I see it, if you purposely don’t fuck with nobody until they’ve been merched by everyone else, you’ll instantly miss 60% of raw people.”
It was during those years at Akira that Prosper first met Preme and Vincent as customers. Over time, Preme began working with Prosper at Akira as well. Vincent was a high school senior around then, and would often help Prosper with photo shoots to which Preme would edit and post on Akira’s blog. Eventually, Preme and Vincent were both working at Akira together around 2011, shortly after Prosper’s departure. After realizing they all had been mutual friends for so long, the three of them became nearly inseparable. Their comradery has served them well throughout the years, especially as roommates —they’ve been living together since about 2014. Prosper had been getting closer to creating his vision of art and fashion, but it wasn’t until Preme came up with the name “Congruent Space” that everything clicked. The way Prosper saw it, the three of them going from friends to family to business partners made too much sense.
"...it doesn’t even have to be a store. You could put us on a task and we’ll each know what the other person needs to do."
— Vincent Manglardi
Vincent believes the retail gallery came together so naturally because they’ve low-key been doing it all along, “This is our home, and that’s how we treat it. We had already been doing little projects and finding cool ways to display our merchandise at the crib and all that, and I think the way we do things transferred over so well because we’ve been like family for so long.” Each of them feeds off of one another’s expertise. Vincent being in charge of the day to day operations makes it easy for him to see how Congruent Space works as a team. ”We all push each other, but I just think it’s because we’ve all been with each other...it doesn’t even have to be a store. You could put us on a task and we’ll each know what the other person needs to do.” Recognizing that they each have a significant role in keeping the brand afloat makes Congruent Space what it is. Looking ahead, you can bet the team has big plans in the works.
Aside from highlighting fellow Chicago creatives like Joe Freshgoods or Olivia Goodman, Congruent Space looks to set a precedent for the youth as well. Students like Tara Parambi from the SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) are making noise with Congruent Space too. Over time they hope to offer an accredited course for student artists who aspire to coordinate their own art shows. By fostering relationships with institutions such as the SAIC 2018 looks to be a bright year for Congruent Space. Along with more handcrafted experiences, and an official website, the team looks to launch their own brand of virtual meditation software as well. Quite frankly, we’ll never know what to expect from Congruent Space next. One thing for certain is that it’ll be something Chicagoans can enjoy together.