By Esme Murphy


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When you think of Minnesota, you may not think high fashion. But believe it or not, Minnesota-made products and Minnesota style are suddenly red hot.

Red Wing boots are now being carried by national retailer J Crew. And Minnesota-made bags by companies like Duluth Pack are featured in high-end department stores in New York.

This weekend, a pop-up store called Northern Grade, which features those and other Minnesota products, will return to Minneapolis. In the past year, Northern Grade has been a hit from Moscow to Washington, D.C.

One of the Minnesota lines Northern Grade features is Woodchuck. The northeast Minneapolis company makes wood products ranging from flasks to journals to money clips. Being featured in Northern Grade has helped raise the profile of the 3-year-old company.

“We’re up about 300 percent over last year. The man-made touch especially out of Minneapolis is really important to our customers,” Chief Financial Officer John Guenver said.

And it’s not just Northern Grade that is finding success with Minnesota styles. The 4-year-old Askov Finlayson store in Minneapolis features Minnesota classics like Red Wing boots, Frost River bags from Duluth and the stores popular North hats made in Cloquet.

They’re all products that owner Eric Dayton says have a timeless appeal.

“It’s about longevity and quality and something you are going to get years of enjoyment from,” Dayton said.

But it’s not just products. That Paul Bunyon lumber jack look is everywhere from celebrities like Ryan Reynolds to reporter Natalie Nyhus in our own newsroom.  Mall of America Trend Specialist Sara Rogers

“You find guys are loving it because it’s rugged, yet refined. There is pride in the heritage and frankly it looks good,” Mall of America Trend Specialist Sara Rogers said.

Northern Grade will be open Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Northern Grade’s founder and Minnesota native Mark McMillan says shoppers around the world simply appreciate classic Minnesota products that never go out of style.

As for the lumber jack look there is even a term for it: Lumbersexual.

To visit Northern Grade, head to the Solar Arts Building at 711 15th Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. October 31 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 1. For more information, visit Northern Grade online. 

Esme Murphy

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