November 07, 2017
The Alton Mill Arts Centre is pleased to announce the opening of Rare Threads, a fibre design and fashion market. Made up of numerous spaces, each a mini-storefront for each entrepreneur, the marketplace features collections of outerwear, handwoven, hand-dyed and/or hand-knit scarves and accessories, garments created from reclaimed materials, children's fashions and home accents. The emphasis is on Canadian-designed goods, with a complement of fair-trade items.
The vendors do all their own merchandising and booth design, while the store's staff handles day-to-day sales. The shared-space concept works well for creatives who want a defined retail space without either high commissions or the hassles of owning and operating a store. “I do shows, and they're good for me,” says one vendor, “but I don't need more time away from my studio. This is perfect in that it allows me to have a storefront.”
The model also fits well within the Alton Mill Arts Centre, a heritage stone mill that is home to a number of galleries, artist studios and shops. Rare Threads is located on the main floor of the historic building.
Co-founder of the arts centre, Jordan Grant, notes that it’s the diversity of designers and makers that makes visiting Rare Threads a unique experience. “We have a mix of established and emerging artists across a variety of mediums,” he says.
Canadian fashion icon Linda Lundström presents three unique collections representing a variety of artistic and social interests: Designed by Linda Lundström, raw-edged fur and leather garments; Therma Kōta, Nordic- inspired outerwear that bridges the gap between high performance and high fashion; and KASKii. This third project and social venture mentored by Lundström, features functional clothing and bags created by an Indigenous sewing circle from Eabametoong First Nation in Northwestern Ontario. Also known as Fort Hope, the community is located 360km north of Thunder Bay, and is accessible only by air and winter roads.
Grant adds that it was the success of Gallery Gemma Jewellery, in the next-door studio space with hand-crafted and custom design pieces, that indicated that the Alton Mill could accommodate a market for wearable art. “The Mill is incredibly strong in painters,” he explains. “We felt that there was an opportunity to showcase creators working in fibre and fashion design to round out our offering.”
Rare Threads’ launch coincides with the Open House weekend that kicks off Alton Mill's holiday season. The shop adds another dimension of handmade and locally created fine art and craft for visitors to experience when they visit the annual Christmas Markets in the Noodle and Headwaters Arts galleries and the second-floor artist studios.
The buzz is building as new spaces are created daily. So far, the vendors moving into Rare Threads include: Ben’s Scarves, Copper Fox Designs, Designed by Linda Lundstrom, Diane Kennedy Cruttenden, Fred & Bean, KASKii, Nadine Nevitt, Poppy’s Collection, Stef Mouchie Collection, Therma Kota, Tres Bello, Weaverbee and Linen Farm.
The Alton Mill Arts Centre is located in the village of Alton, a scenic, one- hour drive northwest of downtown Toronto. For more information about the makers & designers featured, go to the Rare Threads page of altonmill.ca or like the @RareThreads Facebook page.