Boutique owner Patric Richardson feels nothing but affection for the Mall of America. “I was in college when the plans for the mall emerged,” he remembered. By his junior year (in 1992) the mall was open to the public. And after a stint at Neiman Marcus in downtown Minneapolis, he landed a job managing designer apparel for Nordstrom.
“Fast forward several years,” said Richardson, proudly, “and not only do I come here, but I have a store here.”
Richardson is best known as the owner of Mona Williams, the soon-to-close upscale resale boutique in northeast Minneapolis. (Richardson will be shuttering his Northeast shop at the end of September.) What’s less known is that Richardson opened Mona Williams’ newest outpost at the megamall in May. Shoppers will find the new shop on the mall’s first floor, nestled between Nordstrom and DSW.
Last fall Mona Williams hosted a sale featuring one of the state’s largest private couture collections. Shoppers found racks of vintage Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Caroline Herrera and more. And it was that event that caught the mall’s attention. They liked the idea of introducing a local business to the mall’s sea of chains.
While the original Mona Williams was exclusively for high-end resale, the Mall of America location features a mix of old and new. A recent visitor found a 1970s Yves Saint Laurent blouse with flouncy sleeves as well as an array of tailored new clothes by Baum und Pferdgarden. Mona Williams is the first store in the U.S. to feature this popular Danish label.
Will Nordstrom shoppers be lured by the vintage Gucci and chic European looks? Richardson thinks so. “The majority of my customers don’t wear vintage head to toe,” he said. “They buy a killer vintage Chanel jacket, or they want a vintage dress so when they go to a party nobody else will have it.”
133 West Market, 952-854-1228, monawilliams.com
Mona Williams isn’t the only new thing at the mall. Check out these new and coming-soon options.
Kit and Ace
Kit and Ace’s minimalist approach makes them the darling of millennials who eschew flashy branding. Think crisp T-shirts, moody dresses and one of the few acceptable pairs of cargo shorts for men. These designs aren’t groundbreaking — they’re perfected versions of the classics. More than most chains, Kit and Ace functions as a boutique, with each location partnering with local creatives on in-store events. That’s why it was surprising that the North Loop favorite opened its second Minnesota location at the mall in November.
108 South Avenue, 1-844-548-6223, kitandace.com
Zara aims to push the trends to more interesting places. Think tunics for men. Think loose, wide-legged trousers for women. It even has a line of gender-neutral basics. Yes, Zara’s flowing, clean and monochrome designs might shock the Midwestern palate. At the least the affordability factor makes their clothes more accessible. The fast-fashion chain is known to draw inspiration from the past, and the current collection takes a page from the carefree 1970s with peasant blouses, jumpsuits and sequins fitting for the disco. Coming late 2016.
185 Central Parkway, zara.com
No, Versace isn’t opening a store at the Mall of America. Versace 19.69 was founded by the cousin of legendary designer Gianni Versace (though it’s part of the same brand group). So what’s the 19.69 specialty? It’s a classic Italian look for the masses: glamorous, sexy, understated without being boring. With both ready-to-wear and couture offerings, 19.69 appeals to a variety of price points. So it’s a good bet for someone ready to buy his first suit. It’s also a great stop for someone willing to drop $5,000 in one visit. Coming this fall.
132 West Market, v1969italia.com
Grant Tillery is a Minneapolis writer.