The New Year is, traditionally, a time for personal reflection on the year past and making resolutions (and predictions) for the year to come. So with that in mind, let’s take a look back at the year that was in Minnesota fashion and retail.
It was a transformative year, to say the least. Here are the top stories and trends in the Twin Cities style and retail world in 2014.
Minnesota’s best new store lands… in St. Paul. St. Paul would hardly be considered the Twin Cities’ preeminent shopping district. But with the addition of new store Idun in the city’s Cathedral Hill neighborhood, it’s on its way to becoming a shopping destination. The shop carries a mix of goods from hard-to-find designer lines such as quintessentially-French line Bérangère Claire; minimalist Danish label Won Hundred; sporty, streetwear–influenced NYC line Nomia and Toronto-based contemporary sportswear line Priority of Ten. Selected by the expert eye of shop owner Dahlia Brue, they reflect the shop’s minimalist aesthetic, with activewear–inspired detailing, luxe fabrics and clean silhouettes.
[Related: New Shop Alert: Idun]
Emma Berg accepting her award for Best Designer at the Minnesota Fashion Awards, photo by A.J. Olmscheid
Changes in Minnesota’s local fashion week. MNfashion started the year by announcing it would be going on indefinite hiatus from producing its signature Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week (MSPFW) events, the Shows, and the annual Voltage, it left open the question of whether fashion week would continue in its absence. But as they say, the show must go on, and it would, with three independently produced events taking place during Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week in February, and independent shows such as Envision and I Am Everything (jointly produced by designer Emma Berg and producer/stylist Sarah Edwards of I Am MPLS). In the fall, MNfashion officially folded, though new shows including MN4MN and Rumble on the Runway & Minnesota Fashion Awards added new life to the scene. The long-running Envision has picked up much of the slack left in the wake of MNfashion’s departure, its spring and fall editions showcasing full fashion lines by top and emerging Twin Cities designers within the decadent confines of Orchestra Hall.
[Related: MNfashion announces its end]
Store-within-a-store concepts. Small vintage sellers such as Tandem Vintage and Fried Bologna Vintage have found life outside of Etsy and Ebay with permanent shops within other shops, such as Junket and FindFurnish, while North Loop storefront D.NOLO expanded to include a collective of mini boutique from retailers such as Bumbershute, Kindred, Bluebird Boutique, InVision eyewear, and Area, with Arafina joining in this February.
The growth of online retail—and pop-up shops. Two of 2014’s retail trends went hand in hand: online-based retailers and pop-up shops. Some, such as Equation (formerly known as OPM), went online after closing a permanent brick-and-mortar location and closed out the year with a temporary holiday pop-up shop. Others, such as Velvet Moon, started as an online retailer and went on to host monthly studio pop-ups as well as a couple of month-long pop-ups in a temporary storefront. Meanwhile, many brick-and-mortar stores (Parc Boutique, Kisa Boutique, Proper & Prim, Cliché, Semblence) launched online shops. Other new local entries to the online shopping realm included Hotrocity and Silver & Stone, both of which focus on Minnesota-made jewelry.
The Wit & Delight for Target collection, photo by Terry Brennan
The power of social media. Much of 2014’s success stories in the Twin Cities fashion and retail industry received their biggest boosts through social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. Kate Arends of local lifestyle blog Wit & Delight gained so many Pinterest followers that it got the attention of Target, which collaborated with the designer/blogger on a line of party products that launched in September. Local fashion designer Lisa Hackwith saw exponential growth with her line, Hackwith Design House, adding a staff of four and launching up to four limited-edition garments each week—most of which sell out quickly. She’s attributed the growth largely to Instagram and the connections she’s made with national bloggers that have helped promote her line.
[Related: In the Studio with Hackwith Design House]
The North Loop boom. After a wave of new residential development in recent years, retailers are now flocking to the neighborhood that was once a shipping and warehouse hub. A dozen of the Twin Cities’ hottest shops having opened within less than a square mile radius of one another in recent years, including a handful just in 2014: Seattle outdoor clothing company Filson, upscale, Detroit-based watchmaker Shinola, designer clothing boutique Grethen House, bike shop Chrome Industries, and yoga shop Lolë, plus Haus Salon. They join North Loop fixtures such as MartinPatrick3 (which also saw a major expansion), Arrow, Askov Finlayson, the Foundry Home Goods, D. NOLO, and Roe Wolfe.
[Related: Haus Salon Expands to the North Loop]
The changing landscape of Uptown retail. Apart from North Loop, Uptown saw some of the biggest changes in its retail landscape. Longtime shops such as Tatters, Everyday People, and Bay Street Shoes saw closings amidst higher rents attributed, in part, to the wave of new condos and apartment complexes built in the area. At the same time, new concepts such as Pharmacie, Proper & Prim, Kisa Boutique, and Showroom have added new life to the area.
[Related: Uptown’s Changing Retail Scene]
Madelynn Furlong pictured with the WEL x Dust & Form Mobiles, courtesy Wide Eyed Legless
Designer collaborations amp up. Perhaps taking a cue from Target’s and H&M’s successful designer collaborations, many local retailers began offering exclusive collections from local designers and makers. Hackwith Design House created limited-edition lines for Cliché, Parc Boutique, and Grethen House, while shops such as WEL (the new e-shop from Minneapolis style blog Wide Eyed Legless) and the soon-to-open Wilson & Willy’s (online now) have launched exclusive products from local designers. And Target was in the mix as well, producing two exclusive collaboration lines with local blog Wit & Delight as well as heritage manufacturer Faribault Woolen Mill.
[Related: 5 Questions with WEL’s Madelynn Furlong]
Predictions for 2015: We’ll see expansion in store-within-a-store concepts, designer collaborations, and pop-up shops as well as continued retail growth in Uptown, North Loop, and St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill neighborhoods. Also look for store openings from Wilson & Willy’s in North Loop, a second location for Atmosfere that will include women’s clothing, a new Calhoun Square shoe store from Bay Street Shoes’ longtime manager, Arafina’s new store-within-a-store at D.NOLO, and an expansion for Askov Finlayson, which is slated to move into the Dayton brothers’ new Historic Hennepin Hotel this summer.
Wish list for 2015: One thing 2014 lacked was consistent collections from local designers as well as independently produced fashion shows—something that MNfashion had fostered over the years. A consistent, semi-annual fashion week would help. Though 2014 saw strong designer collections from names such as Emma Berg, Joynoelle, Samantha Rei, Christopher Straub, George Moskal, Idle Child, Emily Trevor, and Lindsey Hopkins, I’m hoping that 2015 continues to see collections from these designers as well as the return of more of Minnesota’s top fashion designers into the fold. (Danielle Everine, Caroline Hayden, Max Lohrbach, and Ivan Idland, I’m looking at you.)