G: Aside from clothing, what can people expect to find at one of your events?
KM: We always have food, drink, and music. Smilebooth—the digital photo booth company—comes sometimes now. We’ll have anything from tech bars, coffee, bags, shoes, vintage goods, antiques, grooming products, sporting gear—all kinds of stuff.
G: So in the context of Northern Grade, what is your definition of craft? How do you hope your business represents or re-defines the idea of craft?
KM: Our Pierrepont Hicks ties are made by skilled sewers in New York City, and their work is definitely a craft in its truest definition. A great deal of our friends who exhibit in Northern Grade share a skill or craft in that they make their own goods, but I don’t think anyone can fully define the idea of craft…except maybe Martha Stewart.
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G: Can you give us a sneak peak of what to expect at the Minneapolis run of Northern Grade?
KM: We can’t say an entire list but a few of the vendors for the Minneapolis event will be Ernest Alexander, a company known for their leather and wax canvas messenger bags as well as tailored shirts, neckties, and pocket squares; Shwood, a Portland-based maker of handcrafted wooden frame eyewear; Rancourt & Co, who makes hand-sewn calfskin loafers, moccasins, and belts; Red Wing Shoes, one of the best-known and best-regarded heritage brands in the Midwest; Joshu + Vela, a San Francisco studio producing handmade backpacks, ditty bags, canvas totes, dopp kits, and billfolds; Hollows Leather, a Minneapolis-based maker of custom belts, wallets, key covers, and coasters; and martinpatrick3, a local store that carries a whole slew of high-quality brands and products for men including clothing, housewares, accessories, footwear, and apothecary items.
This holiday shopping season, art meets artisanal as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) hosts the Northern Grade marketplace of American-made menswear in its Cargill Gallery, including limited-edition clothing, accessories, and collectibles only available at the MIA.
Northern Grade @ MIA, the collaboration linking fine art with American craftsmanship opens November 21st during the MIA’s monthly Third Thursday event from 6 to 9 p.m. and continues through January 3, 2014. It’s a first for both the MIA and Northern Grade, one of several new experiences at the museum—including a new coffee bar from Dogwood and food from Rustica—matching the masterworks in the galleries in quality, charisma, and curation.
Established in the Twin Cities in 2009 by Minnesotans Katherine and Mac McMillan, Northern Grade connects conscientious consumers to product makers, much like an open-studio art tour, and has since held popular pop-up markets across the country.
This will be their longest run in a single venue, prompting Katherine to call Northern Grade @ MIA their “very first brick and mortar shop.” The marketplace will feature approximately 15 vendors offering exclusive Northern Grade @ MIA items from such fine American-manufactured brands as Pierrepont Hicks (neckwear), Ursa Major (apothecary), and Field Notes.
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