It wasn’t very long ago that the block of Washington Avenue North between 1st and 2nd Avenues was considered a bit on the seedy side, thanks to tenants such as SexWorld and the now-closed Sinners Gentlemen’s Club. In the past couple of years, the block has become one of the hippest shopping destinations in the burgeoning North Loop district, with shops including women’s clothing store Roe Wolfe, bicycle gear hub Chrome Industries, and made-in-the-U.S.A. goods store Wilson & Willy’s.
Today, it got another high-profile retail addition: Kit and Ace, a Vancouver-based lifestyle concept that sells men’s and women’s luxury basics (think machine-washable tanks and tees in stylish cuts and cashmere blends). The company was founded last year by Shannon Wilson, the wife of Lululemon founder Chip Wilson and lead designer for the yogawear brand, and her stepson, JJ Wilson. Minneapolis is the third U.S. city, after New York and San Francisco, to land a Kit and Ace shop. The ambitious startup is planning to roll out 50 stores around the world by the end of 2015.
The brand has taken a decidedly localized approach when it came to the design and concept of the North Loop location. It features a gallery-style exhibition of work by local photographers, as well as custom furnishings by Twin Cities makers, including its Supper Club table. An ongoing Supper Club, typically held at the shop, will bring together members of the local creative community to collaborate on events, while Fit and Design sessions will help gather product feedback from locals.
The airy store incorporates the original raw brick walls of the warehouse (a former meat-packing facility), giving it a modern twist with minimalist furnishings. The include a copper cluster of pendant lamps by Hennepin Made, Supper Club tables custom-designed by local maker Noah Hall, benches by Tim Granlund of Prairie Woodworking, and chairs by Tandem Made. The shop is split in two halfs, flanked by “Ace’s Room,” a stylized sitting area marking the menswear section, and “Kit’s Bedroom” for the womenswear side of the store.
Kit and Ace’s selection includes tees, tanks, and shirts (plus a few shorts, skirts, and pants options) made primarily from Qemir, a technical cashmere, which can be thrown into a washer and dryer without risk of shrinkage or pilling. The stylish cuts include the swingy, slouchy “Erin Tee” and the drapey, wrap-style “Bellwood Tee.” The men’s “Mercer Button Up” features traditional shirting fabric at the front and the brand’s signature Qemir fabric at the back. Products generally run for about $75 to $175.
“Ace’s Room” at Kit and Ace North Loop
Table by Noah Hall and lights by Hennepin Made
Lights by Hennepin Made at Kit and Ace North Loop
“Kit’s Bedroom at Kit and Ace North Loop
Kit and Ace North Loop
Tandem Made chairs and table by Noah Hall at Kit and Ace North Loop