Archive for the ‘Bags’ Category

Totes Naked

Monday, November 18th, 2013

For at least as long as I’ve been posting here on The Treasury, I’ve wanted an all-leather tote to take around when my everyday bag isn’t quite big enough. Something caramel colored, I always thought, and sufficiently sturdy.


This fall I spotted these Sturdy Leather Totes halfway across the store at American Apparel and almost ran right toward them. Crafted in black or natural, they’re hard and hefty, with an envelope pocket in front, and an invisible magnetic closure on top.


Almost overly understated, if you want the bags to read as southwestern or workshoppy they certainly will, but they just as easily evoke a more modernist, man-about-town mode. Tell someone they’re by Alexander Wang and I bet you’d get away with it.


The natural colored tote that I preferred, the American Apparel website explains, will darken over time to a rich Kentucky bourbon color from wear and the application of mink’s oil. I’m in no rush for that. I like the naked fleshiness of the bag as it is now and will be interested to see how long it stays this lite/brite.


The Peak of Perfection

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Realistically, would I have bought this campfire-colored Kelty Pack had the triple-peaked patch not been triangle shaped?

Probably not. Probably no.

Sometimes it really is the little things that make the biggest impressions. And what separates a modern design from a vintage (or re-issued) one. And what scores a retail sale instead of a snore.

Beach Bum

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

I’m not sure I have it in me to grow an eight-inch beard or completely curtail some strategic manscaping, but otherwise I’m totally adopting Quit Mad Stop’s homeless beach hobo look once warm weather finds its way to me again.

Q.M.S. bags are big enough to literally tote your entire life in, which is of utmost important to the shelter-less set.

And the line’s pared down selection of jackets, polos, and trunks pair up perfectly (randomly) with richer men’s discarded dress shoes rescued from your city’s chicest dumpsters.

These silver painted linen shorts may shatter, slightly, the illusion of the impoverished existence I’m out to orchestrate – but they’re awesomely insane, which isn’t an entirely unwanted undertone when you’re going for that broken-down bum look.

So I’ll see you guys soon, down in the harsh and sandy shadows. You’ll probably pretend you don’t see me at all, but that comes with my new territory – I won’t hold it against you.


Preview: SnowGRADE Men’s Market

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

It speaks volumes about Minnesotan style and values that the state’s quickly become home to arguably the most beloved men’s pop-up market in America, September’s annual NorthernGRADE.

Event founders Larry Felitto of J.W. Hulme Co. and Kat MacMillan of Pierrepont Hicks and @mrsphicks Shoes are at it again, launching NorthernGRADE’s cooler, if not frostier, spin-off SnowGRADE on Saturday Feb. 25th. Here they share the story behind their new pop-up, and tip us off on which American-made goods they’re aiming to take home.

Why did you decide to spin-off NorthernGRADE into SnowGRADE?
Larry: The response for the last NorthernGRADE event was overwhelming and more and more I kept hearing from attendees and vendors alike that we should do more of these throughout the year. People really had a great time.

SnowGRADE is adding workshops into the mix. What can people expect to see and learn?
Larry: There will be an axe restoration workshop, a home brewing 101, leather care workshop, leather tooling workshop and the fellas at Marvel Bar are talking about doing a cocktail workshop. I’ll be front row for this one!

Kat: Peter Geye is a local author, who wrote a book called Safe From the Sea. He’ll be there talking about his book and signing copies. His book is about a man and his father, an old sea captain, coming to grips with their relationship… it takes place outside Duluth. It is such an appropriate book for SnowGRADE. And Peter is quite a guy.

Tell me about some of the new vendors who’ve come on board for SnowGRADE.
Larry: Best Made Axe Co. and Northern Brewer are two that I’m most excited about seeing. Both companies, although not menswear, exemplify the heart and soul of SnowGRADE; the idea of American made, craft, durable and quality.

Kat: I am so excited to welcome Byrd and Belle’s modern and gorgeous iPad covers. Moonshine Coffee is providing the coffee, which is so delicious I will probably be highly caffeinated all day long.

Kat: Rancourt and Co. is coming in from Maine. They make traditional handsewn shoes and boots. Frost River is coming. Their bags are awesome! We’ve got a great crew.

How have you tempted out-of-towners to brave the Minnesota winter and attend the event?
Kat: I think folks from elsewhere feel Minnesota in February is something they have to do at least once in their lives. It’s about character building. Or something.

Is there anything you’re hoping to bag at the event for your own wardrobe?
Kat: A Cause and Effect belt. A Byrd and Belle iPhone case. There is a pen at Askov Finlayson that I have to have. It’s apparently used by the State Department and it’s very heavy and can write upside down or underwater, since I am always writing notes while scuba diving I have to have it!

Larry: Fairbault Woolen Mills just launched a line of beautiful new scarves in a variety of colors, I’ve got my eye on one of those.

Larry: I’m also a little disappointed I didn’t pick up a hat from Ball & Buck at NorthernGRADE so I might have to spring for it this time around.

– – –

And there you have it. Better pad your wallets and bundle up, boys. SnowGRADE’s gonna be ice hot!

Talking Shop: Askov Finlayson

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Any serious shopper has surely (sorta-seriously) imagined opening their own little retail spot. This week I was able to live the daydream through conversations with Minnesotan brothers Eric and Andrew Dayton, whose vibrant new clothing and accessories shop Askov Finlayson opened last month in a 130-year-old building the brothers have carefully converted into an elegant model of the non-Mega Mall.

Capping off a space that also includes the brothers’ buzzy but cozy eatery The Bachelor Farmer and underground watering hole Marvel Bar, the arrival of the Daytons’ compound of cool in the warehouse district of Minneapolis has officially turned the ever hipper ‘hood into our city’s own mini-Williamsburg.

Stocked with revered/revived heritage brands like Penfield and Wm J. Mills & Co., as well as up-and-coming labels like Salt Lake City-based Zuriik Shoes, Askov Finlayson takes timeless style and tips it playfully toward tomorrow.

Eric (above, right) and Andrew (left) were kind and candid enough to sit down and describe their exciting transformation from avid shoppers into savvy shop-owners with the opening of Askov Finlayson.

Where did the idea to open Askov Finlayson originate?
Eric: I worked for Target before business school and got a great retail training there. However, much like opening a restaurant, the idea of opening a store grew out of the opportunity to buy the (Marvel Rack) building and bring it back to life. With my brother as my partner on the project, we wanted to fill the space with businesses that aligned with our personal interests and also would work well together. We hoped that putting a restaurant, bar and shop all under one roof and then programming the second floor with events would create something of a clubhouse for the neighborhood.

How did you go about selecting the brands and products you’re stocking?
Andrew: Our focus has always been on quality of design and construction. It also has to be something that my brother and I both really like, which tends to narrow our search considerably.

I’m curious how your past and current experiences as shoppers, in Minneapolis and beyond, maybe influenced your decisions as new shop-owners.
Eric: There are a lot of great stores in the Twin Cities and we’ve become friends with many of the owners behind them. That said, there were a number of amazing brands that we admired and that were not being offered locally. We saw an opportunity to introduce those brands and add another point of view. We wanted to be complementary to the existing stores in town, not duplicative.

What’s been the best thing about opening your own shop?
Andrew: We get a great mix of customers coming through the store and I find myself spending much of my day interacting with interesting people. Our building is in such a vibrant neighborhood that what’s most exciting to me is simply being a part of it.

What product/products have been the biggest hit with the shoppers at your store?
Eric: People have been responding positively across the assortment, which is a huge relief to Andrew and me! It’s hard to identify a stand-out after only a few weeks, although I will admit that we drastically underestimated the appeal of Vilac balloon boats.

What insight have you gained from interacting with your customers so far?
Andrew: People respond to a perspective. I think that trying to appeal to everyone can ultimately make a store (or a bar or restaurant) less appealing. Even if someone doesn’t buy what we’re selling, they almost always appreciate that we’re taking a position. Fortunately, though, so far a lot of people are buying!

Speaking not as fashion business-owners, but just as dudes, what have you added to your wardrobes this season that you’re super keen on?
Eric: We have spent so much time and energy filling the store with what we believe is a great assortment of merchandise that our own closets haven’t been updated in quite some time. One exception is an awesome jacket that our friends at Epaulet designed in partnership with Vanson. We each got one (different colors of course).

What’s coming up still, this first year, for Askov Finlayson that you’re especially excited about?
Eric: I’m really excited to add local designers Annie Larson and Kenton Sorenson this fall, and then brands like Quoddy and Vilebrequin in the spring. We also have some collaborations with artists in the works, and those are a lot of fun.

Askov Finlayson
200 North 1st Street | Minneapolis, MN 55401

RTH Shop

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

When I recently was sorting out which coast to select as the stage for a fall shopping spree, everything that New York has to offer was nearly trumped by the rough-hewn cool of a single Los Angeles store: West Hollywood’s RTH Shop.

I’m dead serious when I say I think I’ve had at least four separate dreams about visiting the shack-chic store since I stumbled upon it on the internet last fall.

The creative outpost for former Club Monaco, Polo, and J. Crew visionary Rene Holguin, RTH Shop stocks its shelves with a unique take on Americana that’s earthier and artier than the standardized Dean ‘n McQueen curriculum of USA cool.

Drawing from the beauty and materials of our country’s original artisans, the American Indians, RTH offers unisex leather and suede bags and accessories crafted on-site.

Tribal pieces carefully selected from around the world mix with RTH’s creations, layering with new and vintage ponchos and wide-legged pants to suggest the randomly rugged wardrobe Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keeffe might have shared during one of their winters out west.

I purchased a trio of pieces from RTH over the phone in January and instantly found that even one little dose of Adobe-style cool  lends one’s outfit a unique and eclectic edge.

I’m aiming to finally step into the store in real life and make those four dreams of mine come true. If I can get New York Retail out of my system this fall, then next I’ll definitely be booking an extended stay in L.A. as close as I can to RTH.

Time Capsule: The NorthernGRADE Film

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

This is what we looked like.
This is what was important to us.

We went searching for boots and bags and better bow ties,
and on the way we found ourselves friends.

This is a document of what it felt like in our American-made world
when we came together for goods we believed in.

Thanks to Larry and to Mac & Kat for setting up this Minnesotan magic,
and for letting me capture it for everyone to see.


Fashion Getaway pt. 2

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

All that was worn way down where it was warm…

Fashion Getaway

Monday, January 24th, 2011

I’ve just returned from a week down in Mexico having learned two things. First, I tend to be more successful in shopping FOR my vacations, rather than shopping ON my vacations.

And second, a vacation, to anywhere at all, is the perfect excuse to stop dressing so exactly like yourself and try to have some fun.

To jump-start both my souvenir shopping as well as my escape from my aesthetic self, I special-ordered a variety pack of rugged accessories from Los Angeles’s RTH Shop six days before my departure.

The Deep in the Desert gift-shop vibe of RTH’s branding as well as their merchandise (which includes ultra-simple totes and envelope bags in ever-changing shades of leather and suede and handmade beaded jewelry) I find to be really extraordinary.

It’s everything we’ve decided to care for these days: Hand-crafted, American-made, Nostalgia-tinged goods, presented with a pure and peerless sense of understated style. The fact that they don’t have a tattered U.S. flag hanging behind their cash register like every other selvage ‘n chambray store anyone’s blogged about in the past 18 months is but one of the reasons I find RTH so refreshing and rare.

Unquestionably, I thought their Arizona summer camp approach to cool was the perfect starting point for an ol’ gringo like me, heading south of the border.

Somewhere else’s sky and a sea you’ve never seen…

…Are raging reminders what a wide, wild world it is out there. And there’s just got to be more to one’s wardrobe than dark dressy denim and ties cut real trim.

Plus when you’re staying in a sun-struck pink and purple hotel, going trad with plaid and cordovan and all the rest of that makes no sense at all.

So I slipped a bit of sailor into my suitcase…

And met up with a crazy caballero later in the week, deep inside a Mexican flea market.

The three of us, plus my mean, dead grandfather shared clothes & my new suede envelope bag the rest of the trip. Whether we should regret it or not, tomorrow’s snapshots will soon show!

The Best of Twenty Ten

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

An editor by nature, and by trade, I’m a real sucker for any “Best Of” list since they efficiently illuminate what was or still is relevant and radiant, while whittling away the extraneous.

Unless we count my nearly two years of Treasuring as one giant list itself, I’ve never posted a proper list. I thought I’d look back through the digi-pics of 2010 to tally up the top 10 treasures I’d measure as “The Best of The Year”.

1. Favorite Accessory
My new, U.S. issued Aviator Kit Bag. After one machine wash, and one mini-trip to New Orleans, it’s proven itself to be the perfect carry-on suitcase in terms of size and studly style.

2. Favorite Flashback
A TV junkie, just about everything’s been re-runs since early December. But Universal’s HD cable channel, roster-ed with random re-runs of hits from all eras, has been providing me with a dozen Charlie’s Angels episodes a week. It was my first favorite show as child, and it’s finally aged enough now to no longer seem dated and dull (which it did to me a few years back). Now every single tunic, discotheque, and Tom Selleck cameo highlights how chic and swanky the late 70s and early 80s were.

3. Favorite Finger-Painting
The J. Crew shorts I cropped myself then coated in 5 different colors earned me internet high-fives as well as veiled death threats, but I wore them rogue-ly and regularly all summer, to that magic point on the far side of self-consciousness. These shorts and the sideways glances they brought on taught me that if I’m not making someone’s eyes roll over what I’m wearing, I’m just not doing my job.

4. Favorite Follow Up
After two whole albums and a boat-shoe-box’s worth of B-sides, I’ve never heard a Vampire Weekend song I didn’t like. The CONTRA album was more Californian and yet noticeably colder than the New York band’s debut disc, but the sound of shivers in the sunshine made me happy and happily sad, over and over and over this year.

5. Favorite Mistake
I’ve ordered a lot of treasures over the internet these past years, but these vintage black boots were the only package that never arrived. (NOOOO!) I’m still too torn up inside to tell why I loved them so much, or type up all the outfits I would’ve worked up around them. Rest in peace, black boots. I know, without you, that I won’t.

6. Favorite Flavor
The black licorice macaron I chewed in slow motion on the windy steps of a church somewhere in Paris.

7. Favorite Escape
No one saw this coming, not even me, but somehow I became a fan of prison break books. Papillon is the ultimate, the tall-tale-sized autobiography of a Parisian criminal’s repeated escapes from prisons in French Guiana, including the Devil’s Island colony. The protagonist’s will is so strong and sturdy that even when he must endure years/chapters trapped to sunless, solitary confinement, his tone remains brave and bright. The Steve McQueen movie version of the story isn’t criminal, but it lacks the disarming charm of Papillon and his incredible adventure.

8. Favorite Fad
Reddish-orange pants, or orangey-red jeans. But we all already knew that.

9. Favorite Forty-Four Minutes
The best “hour” of TV I saw all year was Mad Men’s season four episode “The Suitcase”. There’s always been a “Will they or won’t they?” tension to Draper and Peggy’s relationship. Not “Will they or won’t they?” fall into bed, but “Will they or won’t they?” fling aside the stressed charades of their 1960s social roles for forty five seconds, and just look at one another for who they actually are. In “The Suitcase”, they finally did just that, puked-on dress shirts and all. It was a long time coming, and it was a sweet and needed relief.

10. Favorite Fantasy
Lying on the beaches of Mexico on an extra large, linen deck-towel– shaped island. I got the towel in August, the plane ticket in November, and soon enough my fantasy will turn reality!

2011 has a lot to live up to.

Q & A – J.W. Hulme’s Larry Felitto

Friday, October 15th, 2010

In the wake of last month’s Northern Grade Men’s Market, I was invited by J.W. Hulme’s Head of Sales and Product Development, Larry Felitto, to stop by their St. Paul storefront/factory for what ended up being a four hour tour!

Talking at length with Larry, it really struck me what an exciting and empowering time it must be working within an American heritage goods label in 2010, with consumer trends being what they are. Just years ago J.W. Hulme was on the verge of collapse, and now their bags receive top-billing at Barney’s.

I find it endlessly interesting to look across our great land to see the various ways in which these “comeback companies” are altering their business or design approach to either celebrate, capitalize on, or sourly shun the undeniable trends in men’s fashion and the new generation of buyers now interested in old-timey out-fittings.

Speaking with Larry, it’s clear J.W. Hulme’s approach to these changes in the market and their customer-base is as solid and sturdy as the goods they produce.

– – – – –

WR: A few years back, just as the rugged, heritage movement was about to
 make its way into the men’s fashion scene, J.W. Hulme had a near-death 
experience. How did that come about and how was the company revived?

LF: After our current owners bought the company in 2003 the company began to grow very rapidly. The rapid growth out-stripped the company’s ability to fund that pace. At that point an investor was brought in to re-capitalize the company. With a healthier balance sheet we were able to make some strategic moves to grow the brand. We contracted with the Steven Alan showroom to represent our line in New York; they started getting our products into high-end retailers such as Barneys. A broader customer base began to respond to American products, and we were able to expand our collection while staying true to our quality craftsmanship and design.

WR: With a younger and perhaps more trend-driven demographic suddenly 
interested in J.W. Hulme, has that affected how your company is approaching business, either in marketing or product design?

LF: We are not a company that chases trends; our designs are timeless, made to last a lifetime or more.

WR: What have you learned from your customers who’ve been buying your 
goods for years and years?

LF: They have  taught us that “legacy” really means something to them. It gave us the liberty to tell our story more fully; touting our truly American-made product philosophy and history. We used terms like “heritage” and “legacy” long before the recent heritage buzz started. Those terms have had true meaning to our customers for decades. Many of our customers have shared sentimental stories like remembering “the bags in the attic” that their parents took out to the summer cabin, or the shell pouch their grandpa always took hunting. When our customers invest in JWH products they know they are choosing family heirlooms.

LF: Our customers regularly tell us that quality is worth paying; some say “cheap is expensive; I have to replace it every few years!” They make a direct link between quality and made in America; it’s one of the key reasons customers buy JW Hulme. The quality they expect from us also applies to our customer service. All of our products are guaranteed for life; we even repair and recraft vintage JWH bags. The fact that we are made in the USA allows us to deliver that kind of service.

(Photo: Vintage Gokey dopp kitt on display at the store. J.W. Hulme produced many bags for the Gokey label up through the early 1980s.)

WR: And then, what would you say you’re learning from this new batch of younger customers?

LF: When our products become heirlooms the next generation is confident we are there to take care of them too. The most exciting thing we have learned is that this younger consumer has really started to appreciate quality. This is not a throw-away generation. They place a high value on authenticity—they see right through gimmicks and faux brand stories.

(Photo: Left, a vintage Gokey bag. Right, the traveled/pre-washed Sporting Originals Canvas Carry-On Bag created to invoke the worn-in wonder of the original.)

LF: We didn’t have to make our story up; customers in the younger generations are engaged and intrigued with our 105-year history, and continue to ask us great questions about it. They want to know how things are made and who made them. It is fun to see these younger consumers discover JWH. We just keep doing what we do best and that’s exciting to them.

WR: Since coming on board at J.W. Hulme last year to work in sales,
 you’ve since stepped over into product development as well. What’s been 
informing your work in that area? Do you feel constrained by the legacy
 of the company or empowered by it as you explore new designs?

LF: Working closely with our sales reps at Steven Alan has been incredibly helpful, in that they are really listening to the desires of our national–and international–wholesale buyers.

LF: I have the unique opportunity (being a small company) to answer customer questions personally, and listen to our retail consumers’ requests and desires as well.

(Photo: Prototype for an upcoming JWH tote.)

LF: At least once a day I read through the old Gokey catalogs that we have archived (some dating back to the early 50’s). These catalogs are chock full of old designs just waiting to be updated to meet the demands of the modern customer.

LF: Definitely, I feel empowered by the JWH collaborative environment in creating new products, modifying traditional designs. It’s incredibly exciting that in our small company ideas become reality in just a few months, rather than taking years!

WR: Having co-hosted the Northern Grade Men’s Market with Pierrepont Hicks earlier this month to celebrate American/Minnesotan-made goods, what insight did you gain that you’re taking back with you to J.W.

LF: Authentic matters! Additionally, it was very insightful to see a young “fashion forward” consumer excited about our products and the whole idea of made in America. Maybe there is hope for my grandchildren to know what an antique store is.

WR: You’ve got a lot of new endeavors coming up at J.W. Hulme. Looking 
out at the year ahead, what’s exciting you most?

LF: Obviously, I’m really looking forward to our new line of bags coming out in Fall 2011 (my first foray into product design for an entire season) but in the meantime, we’ve got a series of small leather goods that are really going to be fun… leather can coolers, snap hook key chains, and our recently unveiled Hamline Pocket Journal, an iPad Case to name a few.

(Photo: iPad case prototype.)

– – – – –

After my half-day field trip with Larry, it seemed to me that what JWH seems to be doing so smartly in navigating the current trends in the men’s market is they continue to honor their company’s past without being imprisoned by it. They both acknowledge and invite the interest and input of their younger customers, and adjust their designs and product-lines to serve the men (and women) of today with the quality we all associate with yesterday.

The best part is, it isn’t calculated, and it isn’t a strategy. It’s just who J.W. Hulme is.

Blanket Statements

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

(Sometimes the headlines just write themselves.)

Vintage military blankets infiltrate civilian life in the shape of this Carpenter’s Bag from Cockpit, creating an Army-tough tote that’d look remarkably right even in the company of cream-colored cashmere and crisp khaki corduroys.

The rare bag for both an officer, and a gentleman.