“Women would ask over and over again, ‘Why don’t you do this for women?’” Martin Patrick 3 CEO Dana Swindler says of the wildly successful boutique and interior design firm. “And our response was always, ‘We’re a men’s store.’” But prior to the pandemic, women’s styles started trickling into the shop anyway. Now, there’s a fully fledged, dedicated department, where women are going to get a very stylish leg up on their fall fashion.
MP3, which got its start as an interior design company in 1994 under founder Greg Walsh, is no stranger to evolution. It began in a much smaller space, a mere 400 square feet in size just down the street from its famed spot in Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood, featuring the design firm and a handful of men’s accessories.
Then in 2008 it moved to its current locale, a large building once occupied essentially by just MP3 and now-shuttered coffee shop Moose & Sadie’s. Because MP3 got in on the North Loop early, there was room to expand as demand and delight increased. Following their instincts — like realizing that womenswear should be fully realized within the shop — has always served Swindler and Walsh well, and they aren’t afraid to take risks to deliver what clients want.
The trick has been to keep everything evolving within the same point of view, which has a certain je ne sais quoi — hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. It is, at turns, urbane, sophisticated, witty and whimsical. It’s confident and stylish, but definitely not trendy.
“Martin Patrick 3 has always had a strong point of view,” shares Director of Women’s Buying Samantha Tousey. “This is an exciting new direction that will mirror the men’s experience.” Part of that, she adds, is understanding that intangible feeling you have when looking at something truly beautiful, like the Akris sleeveless houndstooth organza dress that caught Tousey’s eye while at market in New York City.
“Sometimes you buy things out of necessity, but more often, you buy something because it evokes a reaction of ‘I have to have it,’” she muses. “When building out the women’s assortment, we made sure to cover the essentials for a core wardrobe and also included some really amazing pieces that evoke that emotion.”
And Tousey would know, given her background in luxury retail. The University of Minnesota graduate navigated the fashion world with the likes of Chanel and Dior before being lured back to the Twin Cities. “I’m bringing that expertise to redefine the elevated shopping experience for women in Minneapolis and beyond,” she says. Indeed, MP3’s exceptional year-over-year growth is reshaping designer brands’ understanding of the Twin Cities shopper.
Walsh, who oversaw the design of the new department, wanted the space to feel light and airy in comparison to the more masculine areas of the boutique, including how the designer goods are displayed.
“We didn’t want the space to feel overwhelming or cluttered; we wanted to allow the shopper to discover each item and absorb the design detail and craftsmanship with intention,” he explains. “We wanted the space to feel luxe and calming, not over-stimulating. As shoppers travel farther back into the new spaces, it is like a journey for the senses with an undeniably feminine feel, playing on the lighting, the fabrics, and even the home decor and furnishings we incorporated into the space.” Bonus: There’s ample space in and around the fitting rooms, encouraging fashionistas to relax, socialize and truly enjoy the shopping experience.
Tousey notes that the expansion is full of sophisticated pieces with a fashion edge — “classic with a twist,” as she puts it. She’s fresh off launching Akris and Gabriela Hearst in the store, adding to the who’s who roster of fashion houses on offer, like Rosie Assoulin, Brunello Cucinelli, Dries Van Noten, Dusan, Etro, La DoubleJ, Proenza Schouler and Toteme.
It’s all in service to the cultured, well-traveled MP3 woman. She knows it when she sees it, even if she can’t explain it. “She is a woman who looks at her wardrobe as an investment, often drawn to those items that are classically chic or alternative statement pieces that can evolve into heirloom fashion,” Walsh says.
Now, thanks to Martin Patrick 3, she doesn’t have to go to another city to find it — it’s right where she lives. And it won’t be like anything else, because it has the team’s often imitated but never duplicated viewpoint of elevated whimsy that stands alone. As Swindler concludes, “We definitely don’t want to be like everybody else.”