What UP, St. Paul? Last Sunday it was undoubtedly NorthernGRADE. Dahlia Brue, Kate Smith and myself hit up the menswear pop-up event and boy- was it hoppin’. I’d like to say first, as a heterosexual female, I was not mad about the plethora of finely dress men at this event. Not at all. Secondly, it was exciting to see the James J Hill library a buzz with people passionate about “Made in America” products. Iconic brands such as J.W. Hulme and Red Wing Shoes were on full display, and local retailers like Askov Finlayson and BlackBlue brought their stores unique personalities to the event. We spent over an hour mingling with vendors and friends, bumping to music and drinking this wondrous new-to-me drink called Pimm’s Dill, which Kate Smith will discuss in more detail below. Melissa Oholendt was kind enough to snap photos of us shopping and enjoying 2:30pm cocktails (pictured below) and I was thrilled to introduce my lovely friend Diana Colangelo and her friend Olivia Martin to the event as well. All in all, it was a good Sunday.
The highlight of NorthernGRADE (for me) was Pierrepont Hicks. They completely stole my heart when pointing us towards samples from their first line of unisex outerwear. I tried on a sample of their jacket (ranging from XXS-XXL), which perfectly mixes a bit of ruggedness with understated luxury. The wool lining is incredible. I am eagerly waiting for this jacket to become available for purchase and will quite possibly be the first person to get my hands on it, if I have anything to do with it. Stay tune for more updates on their Spring 2013 line.
I also asked Dahlia and Kate to give you a rundown of the coolest things they saw at NorthernGRADE. They both have incredible personal style, so I was happy they kindly complied to my demand. Wink.
Here’s what they had to say:
Give it up for DETROIT! I’m not surprised that well crafted, quality manufactured goods are coming out of this city. Shinola brought bikes, watches and unbelievable leather goods to the good people of NorthernGRADE. I loved the exposed stitching, rich colors and soft leather. By design they were the perfect blend of masculine and feminine. Detroit, I’m coming for you. And my first stop is Shinola. But the real hidden gem at Northerngrade: the Faribault Woolen Mill and Ebbets Field Flannels Limited Release structured baseball caps. Colors included grey, green and red. SO. GOOD.
I immediately took to Twitter after returning home from NorthernGrade to let everyone know a serious discussion regarding Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit was on the horizon, and here it is: Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit is just about the greatest thing on earth. Conversation over. I cannot tell you how many times I went back for “seconds” on the Pimm’s Dill cocktail at 2:30 p.m. last Sunday. For several reasons. But the point is, it’s worth looking into if you missed it. My other delight at NorthernGrade was the introduction of Imogene + Willie at BlackBlue‘s nook. I’m up for a nice men’s sweater, pair of socks, or sunglasses any day, but when it comes to my jeans, I need something tailored to me. Cue the Nashville-based proprietor of men and women’s jeans and trousers. High and skinny. Low and skinny. Dark wash. Darker wash. The dudes at BlackBlue have always had my heart. But now they have my wallet.
NorthernGRADE has had quite a bit of success in the last three years. This year they’ll be traveling beyond the Midwest, popping up in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Nashville, Washington D.C., and Dallas. NorthernGRADE will be tailoring its mix of vendors to include local and regional brands. If you’re in any one of these cities, be sure to follow NorthernGRADE on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and check out their website for updates and details on upcoming events.
More photos from the event available here.