MN is a Pioneer of the Popular Menswear “American Heritage Classic”

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Wearing sturdy work boots, rugged bluejeans, and waxed canvas jackets that Paul Bunyan could only have dreamed of, the guys streaming into BlackBlue men’s clothing shop in St. Paul looked every bit the classic American archetype. (Think James Dean or a young Steve McQueen.) But they weren’t necessarily trying for a retro look. For a few years now, the men’s fashion industry has been turning up the heat on tried-and-true brands, many of which happen to be based in Minnesota. Now guys from the streets of New York City to the runways of Japan are emulating a look that just comes naturally for Minnesotans.

The look, called “urban lumberjack” or “American heritage classic,” is characterized by those familiar items often worn by grandpas across the state and manufactured in our back yards: Red Wing boots, Bemidji Woolen Mills buffalo plaid flannels, and Duluth Pack canvas bags. “We’re seeing this look all over the place right now,” said Mike Ader, better known as Mustache Mike, who recently opened MidNorth Mercantile, a vintage men’s shop in Minneapolis’ North Loop. “At times, Minneapolis can be way behind when it comes to fashion. With this whole heritage trend, we’re leading the pack.”

American heritage style urges consumers to think about where their clothes come from and how they’re made. On the heels of a recession, more Americans are willing to invest in classic pieces that are made to last a lifetime, rather than picking up “fast fashion” that quickly goes out of style. “Clothes should be treated the way you treat your house,” said Satchel Moore, manager of BlackBlue. Moore practices what he preaches. The 27-year-old hems customers’ jeans on a 1920s Union Special sewing machine that he keeps in his Lowertown apartment. “When something tears or breaks, fix it,” he said. NorthernGRADE co-organizer Katherine McMillan agrees. McMillan, who co-founded Minneapolis’ Pierrepont Hicks with her husband, Mac, said there’s more to the heritage movement than just a look. “It’s more about the quality than the fashion aesthetic,” she said.

But you don’t have to be a dad, a hipster or even a lumberjack to pull it off. With the addition of a jacket and tie, the style easily transforms from day to night. “These luxury American-made brands can be modern and sleek,” McMillan said. “They don’t have to be old-school woodsy, although a lot of them are, because that’s inherently American.” That’s why NorthernGRADE and area businesses like Askov Finlayson and Martin Patrick 3 see a range of men passing through. “It’s not just because it’s cool again. … It’s all really functional,” said Chris Furlacher, who stopped into BlackBlue to shop.

Layers for Outdoors Photo Credit: Tom Wallace

Lookbook - MidNorth Mercantile

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