North American Quality Purveyors brings homegrown ethical functional men’s fashion

Walking up to North American Quality Purveyors you would think you were walking into a packed house party.

Through the white picket fence in the front yard you’re greeted by the store’s mascot an enormous wooden moose looking over guests sipping beer on outdoor couches lit up by strings of hanging lights. Inside sounds from DJ Carl Cassidy are heard among the chatter of people crowded inside and outside the small 650-square-foot store in Inglewood for its opening night event on September 11.

Inside small postcards are strung from the shelves telling stories about where the clothes were made from across the continent.

Owner Kyle Van Der Velden who grew up in Calgary says he loves the stories that come with his clothing. All items sold at North American are made in North America by hand-picked and high-quality suppliers the owner says he knows and trusts.

The store offers casual but timeless pieces including shirts jeans sweaters socks underwear outerwear shaving products and accessories such as backpacks and stationery.

“We really want to create a community with our customers in that there’s an actual relationship between the retailer the customer and the suppliers” explains Van Der Velden. “With big companies you have a huge disconnect. You can’t call Nike and be like ‘Hey Nike my jeans didn’t fit.’”

One of these hand-picked brands is Railcar Denim a company of only nine employees in a workshop in Arcadia a city in Los Angeles County. The owner is also a full-time mechanic who Van Der Velden says “just can’t sit still.”

“It’s people wanting to do something. It’s people wanting to be creative and finding any way they can to do so. I think there’s also a huge movement of people wanting to do stuff with their hands” he says.

The theme of the store is definitely homegrown and handmade. The smell of freshly cut wood is comfortable and familiar upon entrance. All of the furniture inside has been made just down the street by Ramsay resident Yarko Yopyk who says his material is sourced locally and he salvages as much as possible to remain “raw and organic.”

Van Der Velden says the close relationship he has with his suppliers enables him to offer a higher standard of care to his customers. For example he’s able to send back a customer’s clothes if there’s something they don’t like. He argues that owning high-quality clothes even at a higher cost will leave buyers feeling proud and confident that they know exactly where they’re buying from. The prices at North American run on average about $150 to $300 with the lowest items being incense and soap at $12.50 and the highest being down jackets at $625 .

There’s also the ethical side to buying from North American suppliers. Van Der Velden says that although it’s not something he pushes at his store it’s important to him that people are paid a fair wage and “treated as humans.” He also mentions the notion of moving away from “throw-away fashion” which he argues creates more waste than a high-quality item that people keep for years not to mention the amount of money spent and pollution created by transporting goods across the world.

Tyler Dixon who was at the party says he thinks it’s important to buy locally but that’s not always easy to do in Calgary. He adds that he appreciates having a place where he can shop for locally made goods rather than buying so far from home.

Van Der Velden says he hopes to create a new relationship with each customer when they purchase something in his store. “I want them to leave with something that they actually love” he says. “You know they’re not buying a collared shirt because collared shirts are in this season. They’re buying something that they’re going to wear all the time and I just want them to be excited about it.”

North American Quality Purveyors is located at 1207 10th Ave. S.E.