For some men, the sight of rugged Red Wing boots and handmade selvage denim is enough to make them squeal (inwardly) like tween girls at a Justin Bieber concert. If you are guilty as charged, then clear your schedule this weekend.
NorthernGRADE is an annual celebration of American-made goods that brings together boots and jeans makers, as well as artisans who craft canvas bags, leather accessories and furniture. Last year there was even an ax maker. Held inside the older-than-old-school Architectural Antiques building in northeast Minneapolis, the event is called a "pop-up market," with sellers coming from all over the United States.
It's sort of like a nerdy comic-book convention, except no one is dressed as Spider-Man. Instead, attendees come as urban lumberjacks -- and this is what they wear every day. Ironic waxed mustaches are encouraged (kidding).
NorthernGRADE is organized by Twin Cities-based tie-maker Pierrepont Hicks and Larry Felitto, formerly of J.W. Hulme. These guys know a thing or two about handcrafting fine American goods. Like them, the rest of the sellers -- about two dozen at this rustic market -- specialize in high-grade materials, meant to last.
Here's a taste of what you can expect.
Red Wing Heritage: These work boots are found in malls across the country now. But at its core, the company is still a Minnesota-based beacon for stylish, durable quality. NorthernGRADE is the only place in the Twin Cities where you'll see this many styles at one time.
Greenwich Vintage: The Minneapolis menswear company has been getting a lot of buzz lately for cobbler Tamas "Zen" Pomazi's custom wingtips and boots, re-crafted with his signature colored soles (about $225). Beyond the eye-catching shoes, Greenwich will premiere a collaboration with Railcar, the acclaimed California-based denim maker. Get ready for: Duck Camo selvage pants.
Leather Works: This small St. Paul-based shop designs excellent leather goods -- wallets, belts, clutches, even toothpick holders (!). Reasonably priced and meant to age with grace.
Hodinkee: New this year, the much-followed vintage wristwatch publication will be on hand to discuss haute horlogerie, i.e. incredibly expensive timepieces (starting at about $450). They'll even have an A. Lange Sohne GUB watch with Lange Caliber 28 (no idea what that means).
BlackBlue: The St. Paul clothing store doesn't make anything, but it's basically ground zero for NorthernGRADE style the rest of the year. It'll be showcasing its ever-expanding inventory of raw-denim jeans from the likes of Imogene & Willie, Raleigh and other $250-plus investments.
Tom Horgen • 612-673-7909 • Follow him on Twitter: @tomhorgen