Shinola and Filson, two darlings of the American-made heritage brand movement, are opening stores in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis. The separate stores will be adjacent at the corner of Washington and Third avenues, in the former Dunn Brothers space. Both are owned by Bedrock Brands, a privately-held firm owned by the founder of Fossil Inc., Tom Kartsotis.
Filson, known for its elegant yet rugged bags and sportswear, dates back to the Gold Rush era, in Seattle. Shinola is the latest example of feel-good American brand renaissance: Originally a shoe polish company, Kartsotis has brought Shinola back to life in Detroit, and transformed it into an upscale collection of made-in-the-U.S.A. watches, bicycles, and leather goods. The handsome products sell for more than the company’s bootstrap heritage would suggest: watches are around $475 and up; bicycles are $1,950 and $2,950. The brand is currently sold at a handful of Minneapolis stores, including Askov Finlayson, its soon-to-be North Loop neighbor.
Minnesota has been at the forefront of the heritage trend, particularly in menswear, as home to several American-made, upscale lines including Faribault Woolen Mills, J.W. Hulme, and Red Wing Shoes. The presence of those brands, and others, inspired Northern Grade, the pop up market of American goods that now travels the country. One of the founders of Northern Grade, Jen Guarino recently left the top post of St. Paul-based J.W. Hulme to join Shinola as general manager of their leather goods division.
"Minneapolis has a rich history of culture and art, plus a thriving bike community that makes it a perfect location for our next store,” says Shinola Marketing Director Bridget Russo. “The city has a passion for American craftsmanship that aligns perfectly with our brand.”
Adds Filson CEO Alan Kirk, " Filson and Minnesota share an everlasting enthusiasm for enjoying the outdoors, which makes it the perfect location as we expand our retail footprint." Filson has company stores in Seattle, Portland, Aspen, and London.
For the North Loop, Shinola and Filson represent the first national brands to open company shops, further legitimatizing the neighborhood’s growing retail presence, which, until now, has been driven by independent boutiques. Aesthetically and philosophically, the brands are a perfect fit for a neighborhood that is lifting itself up, creating commerce, and giving hipsters a suitable place to shop.