Over the past year or two, e-commerce has exploded. That growth has been a boon for independent designers and retailers, who are taking advantage of the easy-to-build templates and low overhead costs afforded by online retailing. E-commerce sites from retailers like Ship & Shape, Velvet Moon, and A Mano as well as designers such as Carrier Pigeon Jewelry and Christopher Straub offer unique items and handcrafted goods not usually found outside of Etsy, craft fairs, and more traditional brick-and-mortar shops.
This month, Minneapolis welcomes another new kid on the e-commerce block: Hotrocity. So-named as a punny take on the word atrocity, the name is also a play on the word city—namely in its representation of the Twin Cities. The site primarily spotlights locally-made jewelry, accessories, and clothing, though it also includes some fun and slightly quirky wearables from Chicago, Los Angeles, China, and South Korea.
It’s the brainchild of one John-Mark (no last name given), a 23-year-old model and dancer-turned-stylist, event producer, and fashion editor, best known for his style and culture website Mplstyle.com. Following four years spent abroad in China and New York City pursuing his modeling career and dipping his toe in the world of publishing with fashion magazine Nu-Mode, John-Mark returned to his home of Minnesota to pursue his latest project, which is a collaboration with Irv Briscoe of web development agency VON91.
“I wanted to take all my experience working in fashion and events and publishing, and use it to help local designers and manufacturers,” John-Mark says. “[Briscoe and I] both felt there was so much design talent in the Twin Cities, and we wanted to create a platform where people could go and see all that talent.”
The shop includes Minnesota jewelry lines such as East Fourth Street, Karin Jacobson, Silver Cocoon, Parallel Pulse, and Objects & Subjects, with most items priced at $60 to $140. “A lot of our designers use recycled metals, and a lot of the Hotrocity product is earth-friendly,” John-Mark says, “particularly Objects & Subjects and East Fourth Street, which use recycled brass and recycled sterling silver.”
The clothing offerings include hand-painted t-shirts by Minneapolis artist Jesse Draxler and a kimono and tank by Minneapolis fashion designer Tessa Louise. While he hopes to add more locally-designed clothing in the future, he’s stocked the store with some other statement pieces culled from his travels.
He says Hotrocity will include more collaborations with artists in the future, such as screenprinters and visual artists who have an interest in crossing over to apparel. “I go to a lot of local art shows, and I think, Why aren’t you putting this on a t-shirt? You should be putting this on a shirt!“
The site itself is an eye-popping exercise in creative design—no doubt informed by John-Mark’s background in fashion magazine publishing. It’s all part of his unique vision for the site and the kinds of products it sells: a broader worldview of style and design combined with a strong local element. “I think our products are conversation starters,” he says. “It’s interesting, it’s stuff you’re not going to find at most brick-and-mortar stores.”
Hotrocity launches today at Hotrocity.com.
Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite pieces for sale on the site:
Parallel Pulse Raw Pyrite Oval Ring: $60 @ hotrocity.com
Objects & Subjects Bullet Bracelet, $90 @ hotrocity.com
Objects & Subjects Sun Ray Necklace, $80 @ hotrocity.com
Parallel Pulse Karana Reflect Earrings, $35 @ hotrocity.com
East Fourth Street Industrial Knuckle Ring, $161 @ hotrocity.com
Tessa Louise Gravity Tank, $59 @ hotrocity.com
Wham Steampunk Sunset Shades, $30 @ hotrocity.com
Jesse Draxler Hand Dyed T-Shirt, $70 @ hotrocity.com
[All photos by Savanna Ruedy, courtesy Hotrocity]