Red's Dresses to Impress

carefully selected, American-made threads at Red’s Mercantile

Haley Wright

Red’s Mercantile, a locally owned boutique in Eau Claire that offers a variety high-quality, American-made household items, is expanding its offering to women’s clothing and footwear. The new offerings at Red’s include custom-fit imogene + willie jeans; Sven clogs and Red Wing boots made in Minnesota; hemp shirts and sweatshirts by Jungmaven; and Winsome Goods coats, shirts, and other classic items made in Minneapolis.

Becca Cooke, owner of Red’s, 224 N. Dewey St., said the inspiration to add women’s clothing and footwear to her offerings came from recognition that women are the primary customer base at Red’s in conjunction with a chance encounter a local clothing designer.  Kathryn Sterner, founder of Winsome Goods, stopped in from Minneapolis and offered to have Red’s host her line. “That really got my wheels turning about creating a new product offering at the shop.” Cooke said. Red’s had a small men’s section, but it made sense to expand into women’s clothing.

Cooke said the additions were carefully chosen, with time invested to find high-quality, truly American-made goods. Red’s decided to expand their product offerings in early summer to include clothing and footwear to create a new shopping experience for customers. “I spent most of the summer researching brands, meeting with designers, and curating a section of goods we could really be proud of,” Cooke said. Red’s introduced and launched a clothing section in early September at a fall fashion preview with their customers. – The unique introduction gave customers insight about why they chose to work with the brands they did and what they’re all about. Three of the five of the new brands are made right here in the Midwest.

The clothing and footwear items offered at Red’s are unique to the store and not sold elsewhere in the Chippewa Valley (other than Red Wing footwear). The items include imogene + willie jeans, which are made in Nashville, Tennessee, and are sold in two fits and in two colors in the store. The jeans are made longer than mass-produced jeans, and Red’s has teamed up with a local seamstress to custom hem the jeans to fit each individual perfectly. Also offered are Jungmaven extra-soft hemp tops; classic and functional clothing made in Minneapolis by Winsome Goods; as well as Sven’s Clogs (made in Lindstrom, Minnesota) and Red Wing Heritage boots (made in Red Wing, Minnesota).

Cooke said the clothing items offer many options at different prices. “I wanted to have multiple options at varying price points so that this shift felt very approachable to my current customer base,” she explained. “It was important for me to source from all U.S.-made brands/companies – which in the textile industry is tricky to come by these days. It made the entire process that much more intentional – going to designer’s studios, learning about their process, reading about their start-up stories, and working with their small teams who want to make change in the fashion industry was so inspiring. It wasn’t a click-and-ship type of situation.” 

Red’s Mercantile customers come from a variety of backgrounds, but all share a common interest in timeless, high-quality, ethically sourced items, and the new clothing and footwear selection is geared toward those priorities. “Women that shop at Red’s are business owners, waitresses, yoga teachers, moms, lawyers, college gals, software developers, and more – their commonality is that they care about goods made with intention,” Cooke said. “Women that shop at Red’s want to support independent makers – 90 percent of the brands we carry are made by women or women-owned businesses – and they want to buy pieces that are going to last from season to season without going out of style. We’ve seen women embracing this both from sales of our home goods and accessories, but now especially in this introduction of clothing.” The reception of the new items has been fantastic, and Cooke hopes to continue to expand her offerings of additional clothing and footwear going forward.

For more information or to check out the full line of clothing at Red’s Mercantile, visit redsmercantile.com or stop by the shop at 224 N. Dewey St. in Eau Claire.

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