With Hamilton Fashion Week just around the corner, I have come to the conclusion that I need to explore my community and discover what Hamilton has to offer. For decades, Hamilton has had a less than appealing reputation as the “butt” of Ontario, a city with nothing to do and nothing to offer. However, over the last few years, brilliant entrepreneurs from all over the city have decided to stand up and make a change and now Hamilton is a beautiful city with restaurants, shops, cafes and businesses that show nothing but potential. One of those businesses that stood out to me as the perfect place to start my journey was the James North General Store.
Located on one of the most affluent streets in the city, James North General Store is physical embodiment of all the best bits Hamilton has to offer – Art, Music, Fashion, Food and most importantly – Community. Open for just under a year, owners Mathieu Brazeau and Setenio Borges have created a name for themselves by setting their store apart from the crowd and offering an atmosphere that Hamiltonians were craving. I was lucky enough to be able to chat with Mathieu and I can honestly say that I have never met a more genuinely authentic soul that is so incredibly passionate about his community.
After years of working for corporations in the cosmetic retail industry, Brazeau and Borges came to Hamilton with the goal to have a store unlike any other to call their own. From that dream came the James North General Store, something that is so much more than your average boutique, it is an experience and that is what makes it so unique and groundbreaking. The minute you walk in the door, you are welcomed into a space that feels so intrinsically Hamilton. The brick walls, wood beams and tin ceiling are accented by vintage furniture and one-of-a-kind art. Among the racks of locally designed fashion lay handmade jewellery on top of tables made from old doors and ironing boards and shelves filled with vintage finds. There are also candles, homewares, perfumes, greeting cards, and bits of Hamilton history all created or inspired by local Hamilton artists. To top it all off, while you browse you can enjoy a coffee – local of course – or a treat from the bar in the back.
James North General Store is a place to find true beauty in the creation of art in every imaginable form, and part of that beauty is in the passion Mathieu has for his city. He sees his store as completely organically Hamilton and himself as a connector. He uses his physical space as a way to foster other people’s creativity and to provide a platform for encouraging growth. For example, James North General Store is home to a monthly art exhibit, an in-progress live art piece on a bicycle, and an up and coming loose leaf tea company. It is this passion for helping others in his community that led him to the creation of Hamilton Fashion Week.
Hamilton Fashion Week was sparked from a simple conversation with a local artist about delivering something completely different to Hamilton. Something entirely separate from the well-known and successful Art Crawl that would bring the community together. Something that would celebrate a part of Hamilton that is often overlooked – fashion. Now, through time and collaboration has come the beginning of a new era in Hamilton history. Hamilton Fashion Week is in a sense mimicking the theory behind James North General Store. It is a series of free events, open to anyone and everyone, designed to showcase the talents of local designers, models and artists. It is a platform for the Hamilton fashion industry to grow in a way that is beneficial to the entire community.
It is an exciting time for Hamilton, with businesses like James North General Store paving the way for the arts to blossom and the community to persevere. If you would like to learn more about James North General Store visit their website at www.jamesnorthgs.com, follow them on twitter @jamenorthgs or for the best experience possible head on down to 261 James Street North in Hamilton Ontario Canada. For more information about Hamilton Fashion Week visit www.hamiltonfashionweek.com. You can purchase tickets for the Gala Fashion Show at James North General Store for $10.