Eric Dayton and his brother Andrew Dayton are the co-founders of Askov Finlayson, a uniquely Minnesotan menswear brand built with an appreciation for high quality American-made products and timeless design. Founded in 2011 their flagship store has become a fixture of Minneapolis’ NoLo District, and is known for its unpretentious style and well-edited collection of like-minded brands.
Tell us about Askov Finlayson’s beginnings.
My brother and I opened Askov Finlayson in the fall of 2011. We had just opened The Bachelor Farmer and Marvel Bar two months earlier, so it was a busy stretch. At first, we didn’t have any store employees; it was just Andrew and me. We’d be working in the restaurant until late at night and then do rock, paper, scissors to see who had to wake up early and open the shop the next morning. Fortunately, we now have a little more help! And then about a year ago, we started introducing our own Askov Finlayson products. The first was our Explorer Pant and we’ve been slowly expanding the brand ever since.
What is important to you about buying local and supporting American Made?
We’re seeing in all three of our businesses that, more and more, customers are interested in the story behind the product. Whether it’s a bottle of wine or an article of clothing, they want to know where it came from and who made it. We want to be able to tell stories that we’re proud of, and we’re always proud to tell American (and especially Minnesotan) stories. But ultimately, the story doesn’t matter if the quality and value aren’t there. We make our pants here in the U.S. not for the story, but because that’s where the best factory in the world is located.
What else inspires you?
I’m fortunate to get to travel quite a bit for work. Askov Finlayson takes my brother and me around the country, and The Bachelor Farmer has taken us to Scandinavia a couple of times with our chef. It’s very valuable to get out and see what’s happening in other cities. I always come back from a trip with new ideas and fresh energy, but our point of view remains deeply rooted in Minneapolis and this region.
How would you describe your style?
I’m not much good at describing it, really. I just buy things that I really respond to and put them together in a way that feels right to me. And that’s essentially how we buy for the store, too. It’s very personal.
What are your favorite J.W. Hulme products?
I’ve been so impressed by some of the recent designs that feel very forward-looking to me and represent an evolution of J.W. Hulme’s traditional styles. Bags like the Fremont Weekender and the Cody Tote are perhaps not what you’d expect from a 100-year-old Minnesota company, and that’s exciting.