Heritage Brands Leave a Lasting Legacy

Durable heritage pieces hold up against the elements and stand the test of time in style.

Though it hit its peak a couple years ago, the heritage style movement is still going strong. Flannel shirts, selvedge-denim jeans, and work boots are practically a uniform for those who frequent Spyhouse Coffee, and a North Loop loft would be practically naked without a Faribault Woolen Mill blanket on display.

Minnesota’s love affair with heritage brands is no accident. Some of the world’s most iconic companies, such as Red Wing, Faribault Woolen Mill, J.W. Hulme Co., and Duluth Pack, have been made right here in the land of 10,000 frozen lakes for over a century.

During winter months, it becomes even more obvious why these brands have lasted the test of time: They hold up against the elements and keep their wearer warm. Growing up, I remember viewing my dad as some kind of modern-day Paul Bunyan, chopping down trees in our sprawling backyard in a red-plaid flannel shirt under overall-style snow pants, Sorel boots, and a knit pom-pom cap. Over the years, that shirt took a beating; today, it hangs in my closet, torn at the elbows but otherwise intact. And I even have my own pair of Sorels—though I probably won’t be chopping any wood in them.

The heritage craze gained renewed steam during the recession, when budget-conscious folks realized it made a lot more sense to spend $200 on a pair of jeans that would last nearly a decade than a $40 pair from H&M that would need to be replaced after six months.

“It wasn’t about wearing showy, expensive brands,” says Mike Fischer, co-owner of modern outdoor-gear shop Mend Provisions in Minneapolis. “It was more about the subtleties of quality and the way things are made than a fashion statement.”

The same goes for a pair of Red Wing boots that can be resoled, oiled, and restored over the years, unlike other shoes that get tossed in the trash after six months of heavy wear.

“Because they’re made with natural fibers, they get better as they age and can be repaired,” says Satchel B. Moore, a longtime devotee of classic brands who owns his own denim repair business, Science and Kindness. “You can have a lifelong relationship with these pieces.”

When it comes to dressing for the outdoors during the winter, there’s a heightened need for performance and quality—especially if snowshoeing, skiing, dog sledding, or ice fishing are in the cards. Take it from Eric Dayton, whose North Loop store Askov Finlayson specializes in well-designed outdoor gear.

“The brands that are relevant, and probably always will be, are the ones that perform,” he says. “The designs are timeless. These aren’t brands that are chasing trends—they are driven by function.”

Form meeting function—now that’s something that doesn’t go in or out of style.


Jahna’s January Style Picks

Photo courtesy of pierrepont hicks

Blue Suede Shoes
Brooklyn-based brand Pierrepont Hicks prides itself on creating timeless goods, such as these cowhide moccasins with a suede wrap-sole and red whipstitching, which are destined to become future classics. $120 @ pierreponthicks.com

Photo by Ken Friberg

Follow the Pack
The humble backpack gets a luxe update in this leather version by J.W. Hulme Co., available in an array of jewel-toned hues with a complimentary monogram. $395 @ jwhulmeco.com

Photo by Ashley Sullivan for Wilson & Willy’s

Blanket Statement
This blanket-style cardigan, handmade by Minneapolis brand Hackwith Design House using wool from Faribault Woolen Mill Co., fuses heritage style with modern design. $275 @ Wilson & Willy’s, wilsonandwillys.com