For 2½ years, the semi-annual NorthernGrade men’s market has carried the torch for the so-called “heritage” movement in the Midwest. With its latest edition popping up Sunday in St. Paul, we spotlight our picks for NorthernGrade’s top Minnesota-based vendors, from the godfathers of the movement to the new kids on the block offering a modern twist on classic heritage style.
Red Wing Heritage
More than a century ago, Red Wing Shoes was founded by German immigrant Charles Beckman in Red Wing, Minn., to fill a hole in the marketplace with a sturdy, well-made work boot — the design of which is essentially unchanged to this day.
John W. Hulme founded his company in 1905 as a tent and awning maker, later turning its focus solely on leather and canvas bag production. The company reduced operations in 2003 as a result of the recession, but six years later, it came back from the brink of going under after finding a new investor. Its bags are now sold at high-end retailers like Barneys New York and Steven Alan.
Faribault Woolen Mills Co.
This company was founded in Faribault, Minn., in 1865, and its handcrafted wool blankets, throws and scarves launched it into a global business. In 2009 the company went bankrupt, but it was revived two years later when two Faribault entrepreneurs bought the company.
Best known for its leather and canvas backpacks, luggage and messenger bags, Duluth Pack was founded 130 years ago in the North Woods as a manufacturer of outdoor gear. To this day, the brand incorporates many of its original manufacturing techniques into its handcrafted bags.
The new guard
Since 2011, this Waconia-based cobbler has built an international cult following with its recrafting of wingtips and work boots with colorful soles and uppers. They’ve since expanded to include a limited-edition line of duck camo-print jeans and leather “braces” (also known as suspenders).
Owned and run by Michael “Mustache Mike” Ader, this newly opened North Loop shop is part barbershop, part vintage refurbished menswear. The look is high-end army surplus meets hirsute hunter, with plenty of plaid, hardy knits and camo in the mix.
Along with their wildly successful restaurant the Bachelor Farmer, the Dayton brothers’ first foray into retail takes inspiration from their Scandinavian heritage. Askov Finlayson stocks products from local and national brands, including Woolrich, Barbour, Norse Projects and Faribault Woolen Mills.
“Rugged luxury” sums up the aesthetic of this co-founder and host of NorthernGrade. Conceived as a necktie company in 2009, the company has since expanded to manufacture suede moccasins for men and women and a line of wool blankets in collaboration with Faribault Woolen Mills.
Leather Works Minnesota
If you’re looking for anything made of leather beyond shoes and bags, Leather Works Minnesota probably makes it. We’re talking wallets, business card holders, belts, key fobs, camera straps and even toothpick holders.
When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun.
Where: James J. Hill Reference Library, 80 W. 4th St., St. Paul.
Info: www.northern grade.com.