The Richmond gathering is one in a series of Northern Grade productions around the country, which are led by the Minnesota-based husband and wife team behind the menswear accessories brand Pierrepont Hicks.
These markets bring together a number of up-and-coming entrepreneurs and offer a convenient means for online brands to present their products and image in person to a captive audience.
One challenge as Northern Grade and others like it, such as Mark Bollman’s American Field, seek to grow is working to attract an audience wider than avid made-in-America enthusiasts and high-rollers who can spend three figures on men’s accessories.
(Side note: There is some low-hanging fruit here. One easy step towards greater visibility would be to post a sign or two letting the public know about the event. I knew that this was going on and where it was to be held, and still couldn’t find the unmarked entrance.)
The reality of the market is there are legitimate deals, such as Stock Manufacturing Company’s beautiful $20 made-in-Chicago cotton pocket squares and Lumina Clothing’s sub-$50 cotton ties. Khakis from the likes of Georgia’s Jack Donnelly and jeans from Shockoe Denim in Richmond are comparably priced to higher-end department store offerings. You can also lock onto some not-outrageous gift options, like a $40 leather passport holder from Moore and Giles, and unique finds, like Appalatch’s remarkably soft 100 percent wool t-shirts.
Yet the $500 magazine racks and extravagantly-priced leather goods (and $60 wool t-shirts) that mingle within the old power plant can leave visitors with a different overall impression.
I asked someone who had wandered over from the nearby coffee shop what he thought about the market. He replied, “I’m all for made-in-America and I try to buy local as much as I can, but the reality is I’m not going to pay $90 for a wallet or $200 for a belt.”
Still, it was nice to meet some of the folks who made them.
Northern Grade market in Richmond, September 21-22, 2013. Photos are property of Modern Fellows and were taken with permission.
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
Other cool stuff:* The Essential List: These 52 innovative menswear startup brands will transform your wardrobe
* Discover more than 30 thoughtful gift ideas for men from unique shirts to colorful socks
* Shop Modern Fellows' list of recommended menswear brands.
* Search 12 Thoughtful Gift Ideas for the Modern Dad for Fathers' Day, Christmas or his birthday
* Browse our list of essential men's style books.
* Discover the best places to buy men's socks online.
* Check out these gorgeous, affordable watches with numbers
* Find Alternatives to Warby Parker that also let you try on prescription eyeglasses at home.
* Explore 10 options for amazing chinos from these menswear startup alternatives to Brooks Brothers.
* Get $50 off your first suit at Black Lapel, one of our favorite online custom tailors.
* Score $20 off your first shirt at Proper Cloth, one of our favorite online custom shirtmakers.