File this under best kept secret: It's a little-known but luxe fact that you can get 100 percent handcrafted leather and canvas travel packs, courier messenger bags and bicycle accessories from the Mercy Supply studio located at 1111 Godfrey SW in Grandville. High-quality bags are king here and so are belts, wallets and the most posh waxed canvas and leather lunch bags you'll ever see carted around. The playground/workshop belongs to Rusty Zylstra, owner and operator of Mercy Supply. He tries to get leather, canvas and hardware as close to Michigan as possible and believes individuals buying his bags "want something quality that will last a lifetime. You can reach anyone with the timelessness of it. It's not super high fashion, not mediocre. It's middle ground and a guy can carry it and still look nice." Zylstra makes what he uses in daily life such as bicycle accessories, a motorcycle tool roll and "all kinds of things I might be interested in that stem out of what we need." Check out the shop at mercysupply.com and tell me if you spy the hand-forged bottle opener from Zylstra's buddy, Middleville blacksmith Nate Runals. Just another cool item floating around in this cool city.
A.K. Rikk's announces the opening of their new atelier. For those that don't know, 'atelier' is French, pronounced "atuh-lyey" and it's the definition of a workshop or studio, especially of an artist, artisan or designer. Also known as Women's Luxury, the atelier covers everything evening—anything you'd wear for a black tie or formal gala event around the city. "Even creative black tie," says Emily Hughes, Director of Women's. She describes the space as luxurious, feminine and slightly edgy—especially with the Jason Wu selections. "We want to be able to offer the true formal aspect of gowns and full length dresses with designers like Zac Posen, Reem Acra — true red carpet style." It's all about offering women high fashion for their stylish soirees and giving choices from traditional frocks to dresses that might not be so formal, such as cocktail length. Designers you can't find anywhere in West Michigan are in demand and A.K. Rikk's has not only answered the call but given the need a proper space. Lines will be popping up at the store this fall so get your hands on some Donna Karan, Escada, Badgley Mischka, Adam Lippes and Brunello Cucinelli. The atelier is where you'll find gowns in a good range of prices and sizes for homecoming, holiday parties and your next dolled-up night. It might just be the closest thing to the dressing area of your dreams.
Ever been to an outrageous hair design battle and showcase? I have and Mane Event does not disappoint. It's a solid mix of stylists and hair industry folk showing off their talents in two categories: Avant Garde and Glamour. It's something you have to see to believe as models walk the runway sporting curls, braids, color and height. "It's a competition for stylists—an avenue for them to show what you won't see in the salon," said Angela Shea, executive assistant to the director of special events. "The models get into it with outfits and costumes. It's just a way to be entertained in a whole new manor." It's great people watching, too. Held Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. at Eve inside The B.O.B., this celebration of hair is the perfect girls' night out. Cover is $7 and benefits Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. The night is big and fun — the definition of good hair to me. Head to the Mane Event Facebook page for more.
Kendall College of Art and Design recently announced a fashion and printmaking accreditation after being in the works over the past two years. Grand Rapids and West Michigan can utilize the skills and talent of the community and people who are really creative in fashion design on their own and further education and have a connection with the university, according to Kristopher Jones, director of talent acquisition and recruitment. Premium students attend KCAD for three years, then apply and transfer to one of two partner schools in New York and Los Angeles or may enroll in a four-year option for students who want to stay in Grand Rapids. “This program will afford students the opportunity to really develop true studio skills to create their vision of fashion,” said Jones, who discusses classes that rely heavily on research, drawing and design thinking—how to create fashion for the end user. Lori Faulkner, chair of fashion studies at KCAD calls the accreditation a “huge feather in the graduation cap of any student looking to begin a career.”