Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Florida For The 14th Time

Monday, June 4th, 2012

There was a wedding in Sarasota last weekend I initially attempted to weasel out of attending. When that didn’t seem to be working, I bartered with Hurlyburt for a post-wedding splurge of a sidetrip to Miami as my reward for smiling politely through the sweatiest marriage ceremony ever endured.

Florida is like my own personal mob. Every time I try and get out for good, something sneaky always pulls me back in. If nothing else, the sunshine state’s one enormous set for the photo shoot that my life basically is.

I mean, even the airport elevators and same lame chain drug stores that we have in Minnesota tend to be more beautiful in Florida.

Also working in Florida’s favor is the presence of Krispy Kreme donuts/shops – completely extinct in my state since about 2006.

Shopping-wise, this trip was a bummery bust. I bopped optimistically to Zara, and Armani Home, and 1111 Lincoln Road, and, last but not least, The Webster Miami, and didn’t snag even a single souvenir during my six day vaycay.

I left with something a little better, though, I think. A serene and cinematic stay in my favorite hotel ever, The Tides South Beach, that I’d say was sorta life changing.

An entire Tides post is obviously in order (and on its way).

Patterns Emerge

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Building a wardrobe of basics can, basically, feel and look a little boring after a while. Riskier, wittier pieces tend to fill up more and more of the slots on my seasonal shopping lists as I get older. For this summer, all I’ve been drawn to so far are punchily patterned pieces.

I’d been waiting for this Woolrich Woolen Mills button down to be released since I first spotted smartphone pics of it snapped last summer during Pitti Uomo. I wasn’t sure I’d be up to pulling off a piece with such an Afro-funked feel to it, but when I finally tried it on, all my Anglo inhibitions faded fiercely to black.

Sometimes I get a little sick of the two chambray shirts I’ve worn repeatedly the past four or five years. The addition of polka-dots to this Gitman Vintage offering shifts things a little more Preppy, a little more Prairie, and a lot less predictable.

I’m really hot and/or cold on most of the Native American/Pendelton-y prints that have trended their way into fashion lately, but this Topman piece has an almost sandwashed, Saved By The Bell feel and fit to it, so it keeps me looking more 1980s Slater, less 1880s Squaw Warrior.

I’m probably about as patterned-up as possible now, for spring. What I’m gonna do next to keep things un-basic and un-boring, I’m not just sure yet.

Stacked Against Me

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The evidence clearly has been mounting against me for quite some time, but honestly I wouldn’t describe myself as one of those people who LOVES shoes INSANELY – like Pharell ‘n Carrie Bradshaw’s half-black baby deliriously would.

But the four pairs above are the damage I’ve done to my wallet/closet floor in just the past two months – and yet I still don’t feel as if I have that one perfect pair of shoes I can wear every day with any outfit.

Surely, at least some of my outfits will work really rather well with my tawny New Balance hikers.

And other, more 70’s-ish scholarly outfits would pair properly with the hard-to-find Cola-colored Clarks Wallabees I eventually tracked down in England.

And even though they’re more orange in person than I quite know what to do with, the Irish Setters lace-ups I proxied in from Japan will simply have to be the perfect accompaniment to at least ten outfits this season, or I’ll never be able to justify their price tag to myself or anyone sane.

I might still not have one perfect pair of shoes that can get worn with all of my outfits, but fortunately I can pair a perfect outfit with every new and old pair of shoes that I own. If that basically makes me a half-black Bradshaw-born baby, then so be it.

 

 

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!

Master & Commander

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

I am undeniably the master of embarking on unreasonable missions, like driving all around town to half a dozen dopey little drug stores in order to find a bottle of after shave retro and Redford enough to get me and my face through the tough winter ahead.

But when I finally come across something like this $8 bottle of Master Spice, which looked to have been sitting on the store shelf since 1979, my crazy quests instantly prove to have been really, really worth it.

Shades of Greige

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

One wunderbar thing about Holiday Shopping is it tends to send you into stores you wouldn’t think of stepping foot into any other time of year.

Had I not foraged into the fast-fashion disaster zone known as Forever 21 this weekend looking for jewelry and jeggings or something for my tween-age niece, I wouldn’t have found these grey-beige sunglasses for myself, buried in a bowl in the microscopic men’s department.

Smoky grape lenses and discounted down to $2.99, it made all the mallrat madness incredibly bearable.

‘Tis The Season For Fleet Farm

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Tough guys nearby stomp into Mills Fleet Farm for macho-man basics like jerky, deer bait, and cordless chainsaws. I, on the other hand, tend to trot on in when I need strange boxes of ginger snaps or silly chocolate rabbits for the girls in my films to snack on as period-perfect props.

But I am particularly drawn to the timeless charms of The Farm this time of year when stocking stuffer season comes ’round.

Fleet Farm’s somewhat random, retro-tinged merchandise offers up everything from suspenders to saskatoon jam, and 1980s board games to Brokeback-ready wrangling shirts.

So while you may stop by in full-on Santa mode to scope out rugged, all-weather gifts for the dudes and Dads and dunces in your life…

It’s likely you’ll end up leaving with some marshmallow fluff, Carhartt carpenter pants, or bubbling Christmas tree lights for your own greedy life.

I mean, maybe it’s better “to give than to receive”, but what’s totally best is shopping someplace where you can do both at once.

I mean how could you seriously be expected to pick up a quirky-cool can of saskatoon jam for your divorced Aunt LuAnn, and not snatch some up for your own amazing self?

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
612.206.3925

All Work And No Play…

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

It’s that freaky/fun time of year when dressing-up like someone else is encouraged, regardless of your age. (Although dressing like dead, outdated or imaginary dudes is something I personally recommend doing all year round).

As it’s Halloween month, BBC America’s been playing Kubrick’s The Shining seven or eight times a week, and re-watching it for the first time in forever has led me to seek out a little Cabin Fever Chic for my late fall wardrobe.

Faded plaid flannel would be the most Jack Torrance-ish shirting I could hope to hunt down, but the perfect 1979-ish print’s been hiding from me (somewhere deep in that snowy maze, I suspect).

This button down oxford from Club Monaco seems to suggest a shamed prep-school teacher turned hotel-caretaker though, and is just the right shade of old Colorado Tan. Woven with a subtle undertint, it almost makes the shirt literally “Shine”.

These red-soled suede shoes from Quoddy were my first steps toward my transition into a Torrance. I can just as easily see Jack pairing them with pajama bottoms and a cableknit fisherman’s sweater as I can imagine Wendy tying them on over some red tights and a corduroy jumper dress.

The real trick in turning into a 1980 Torrance though is wearing a thick, insipid turtleneck under just about everything.

And then accessorizing with either a roque mallet or a hatchet. (Club Monaco just sold out of theirs, so I’ve been walking around town miming that I’m clutching one instead).

I’m 167 pages into the original book now. It’s not as inspirational as the film, sartorially – but it’s sadder and not so sarcastic. And hopefully by the end I’ll maybe work out how to rock bloody bathrobes as ready-to-wear.

Until then, creeps, REDRUM and Happy Halloween!

New York Stories pt. 3

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Saturday morning we wandered through Brooklyn and into a new shop called Goose Barnacle where I shuffled through thirty or so assorted packs of Afro-jelly bracelets to select the perfect color combination.

At the Barney’s Co-op we met up with Yuko whose lovely New York life I’ve followed on the internet and Twitter for years. She suggested we walk to an old Pharmacy turned Soda Fountain which sounded super to me.

I tried to select something that wouldn’t ruin my upcoming stop at the Shake Shack, so I went for the Red Velvet Twinkie Sundae. While we snacked Yuko told us about the dream-like shopping in Japan, and we recounted our survival story of being stranded in Paris last Spring at the hands of the Icelandic volcano.

We stopped into a few more hipster-worthy stores on our way back to the subway. Yuko mentioned she doesn’t actually venture into Brooklyn that often because she has a hard enough time stopping herself from buying clothes and shoes and important stuff like that all throughout Manhattan. That’s pretty much half the reason to know and love her!

Another New York blogger, Kwannam, told me about the Cured Olive Shortbread Cookies at a coffee shop called Abraco, so later in the day I tracked one down and adored its offbeat amazing-ness. I think I’ll try and bake some at home myself, sometime sorta soon.

Our final day in New York began at Barney’s where I’d wanted to see their R&Y Augousti accessories since I’m never fast enough to add any of them to my cart when they show up on Gilt. I’ve totally got a thing for shagreen, and after leaving the shop without anything, we trekked all the way back later in the day and bagged one of the boxes above!

I’m always way early for everything, so while wasting time until our lunch reservation we walked past the Apple Store to witness firsthand the fan memorials to the life and work of Steve Jobs. I actually got pretty choked up seeing all the people weeping and hugging and laying down their tributes to the man who changed the world. It’s been such an exciting and impacting decade or so; I guess my almost-tears were a silent little “thank you”.

Needing a AAA battery for the plane ride home, we then darted into a Duane Reader drugstore, where I added a bag of Utz Potato Chips to my souvenir stash. Cuz you don’t see Utz in Minneapolis very often, and Don Draper did do their creative, after all.

The day’s main event was a grand tour of Bergdorf Goodman’s, the retail kingdom where the turban-crowned Kelly Wearstler is now reigning queen.

Having just added clothing and accessories to her brazen line of brassy home goods, our tour climaxed with a two-and-a-half course lunch in the Wearstler-designed BG restaurant.

The best thing about a vacation to a big city is you can curate it with only the topmost shops, and the snappiest snacks, and the most atmospheric eateries, making it as if, for those four or five days, you live in a time and place where everything is beautiful.

Cause that’s the kind of time and place in which we should all be living.

New York Stories pt. 2

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Our first full day in New York began at the Doughnut Plant. It wasn’t situated near any of the shops we’d assigned ourselves to visit, but when there’s playful Pistachio, Creme Brulée, and Peanut Butter Frosted/Jelly Filled doughnuts baked fresh in the city I’m waking up in, I’m gonna do whatever needs to be done to try them out.

The bulk of the day was spent in Soho. There were very few shops I cared to return to from my 2005 visit to New York, but Opening Ceremony was definitely one of them.

Although last time the shop was just a floor and a half worth of inventory, and now its spread out over two adjacent buildings with staircase after staircase leading to endless levels of sequin bow ties for him and lucite pumps for her.

The two-headed or pinata-topped mannequins throughout were every bit as kooky-cool as the merchandise. I’d thought about picking up a Carhartt blazer for myself there, but like every blazer manufactured anywhere in the Milky Way since the early 1920’s, even the Small was way too Not-Small for me.

To keep up our strength we stopped into the Mariebelle Chocolate shop where I ordered a hellishly hot Banana/Milk Chocolate drink.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced Hot Chocolate so thick it needs to literally be chewed, but now you at least know someone who has. I almost needed a damn fork to finish my “drink”.

Near the end of the day, my shopping dry-spell was broken at last when a mix-matched set of vintage Italian dishes were snatched up at Aero, and a sparkly slab of pyrite was unearthed at Evolution. On the subway ride back to the hotel, I started to realize I was going to need to base the success of my New York trip on something other than how many shopping-bags worth of sweaters and bookends I slammed into my suitcase once it was over. I vowed to enjoy my visit, and my hunt for new treasures, regardless of how much I ended up buying/not buying.

While still in Minneapolis, I’d made dinner reservations for Friday night at the Oyster Bar under Grand Central Station.

It seemed just the sort of place Holden Caufield would’ve weaseled his way into and then out of, filled with all sorts of over-drawn characters.

In fact we sat at a table next to two college prep pricks who, now that I think about it, I know Holden would’ve royally hated.

But watching the almost fictional-feeling Taiwanese tourists, and lackadaisical latin waiters, and jock-itchy jerks around you is exactly what makes dining at The Oyster Bar so Salinger-esque, and so New York.

New York Stories pt. 1

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

I’ve returned from my whirlwind trip to The Big Apple, having attempted to spruce up both my home and my closet through five jam-packed days of carefully scheduled shopping. I hadn’t visited the city since 2005, and I don’t recall exactly what was going on in menswear at that time – but the fact that I can’t remember probably says it all.

We stayed at the famed Algonquin Hotel, the oldest operating hotel in New York City where Dorothy Parker snarked her afternoons away at the round table during the 1920s. The entire lobby is essentially one large club filled with wheelers and dealers slowly sipping Manhattans before rushing back out again to rule our world.

The hotel is so old that the footsteps of thousands upon thousands of guests have worn down the marble stairs over the years into a rippled time-lapse image of time passing. The steps at Versailles in Paris were like that too, and I always find it beautiful; the way it makes one think about what lasts in this life, and what does not.

After check-in, the first day was spent in a string of stores not far from the hotel. First on seven full floors of the ABC Home department store…

Then at the epic Eataly emporium, filled with edibles both imported and in-house, where elbowing your way through the crazy-making crowds will reward you with fantastically floppy anchovy pizzas and sparkling Euro drinks.

Late in the afternoon I manhandled some mid-century pieces in the loft area of Nepenthes…

Then caught my reflection in a pair of crazy copper Duckie Brown wingtips. But after my first full day of treasure hunting, I returned to the hotel empty handed.

Our first dinner was enjoyed at Schiller’s Liquor Bar on Rivington Street.

There, in the candlelight, I tried to figure out if any of the old-looking subway tiles were original to the location. Stumped, I scanned the next day’s itinerary, hoping extra hard that a splurge-y purchase was just one good night’s sleep away.