Canvas + Clothier Brings Sustainable Fashion & Homewares to Poughkeepsie | Shopping | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Before malls were a thing, the Hudson Valley flocked to Downtown Poughkeepsie to shop. The Queen City’s ongoing revitalization just got a major boost into the era of “next wave” retail with the opening of Canvas + Clothier, a micro-department store with a wide selection of clothing and home goods and a passion for supporting sustainable fashion, domestic manufacturing, and community engagement.

Like so many of the finer things in life, Canvas + Clothier is an inspired collaboration. Jillian Grano, co-owner and founder of Utility Canvas, has been domestically designing and manufacturing clothing and home goods rooted in practicality since 1990, developing a broad national and international following. MaryVaughn Williams founded Hudson Clothier in 2014 when, after years in the import side of fashion, she wanted to sell only American-made apparel and accessories. With a storefront on Warren Street and an online shop, she began with women’s fashion eventually expanding into menswear.

click to enlarge Canvas + Clothier Brings Sustainable Fashion & Homewares to Poughkeepsie
The historic c.1871 building that houses Canvas + Clothier returns to its department store roots.

Grano’s exceptionally well-made clothing line soon became a foundational element of Hudson Clothier’s stock. “I’ve been able to sell more Utility Canvas than anything else; people just love the line,” says Williams. “So we got excited about doing a project together and putting that domestic manufacturing part of it in the forefront.”

The pair scouted locations in Brooklyn, but Poughkeepsie emerged as a better fit. “We wanted a lot of room, and we wanted to go somewhere where we’d be part of a community that needed us,” says Williams. In a tidy, full-circle twist, they found what they were looking for in a c.1871 former department store they located on Garden Street, with 6,000 square feet to fill with made-in-the-USA merchandise.

At Canvas + Clothier, shoppers are greeted by a cafe featuring fresh sandwiches and SweetLeaf coffee, with the remainder of the first floor dedicated to sustainably manufactured, fashionable clothing, accessories, and jewelry for all bodies from Hudson Clothier. The second floor of the store holds 2,000 square feet of colorful, American-made, natural bed linens, pillows, and home textiles sourced through Utility Canvas. The private third floor will serve as space for small manufacturing initiatives, workshops, and a kitchen for special events.

Combining their two outstanding New York brands into one C Corp offers an exceptional opportunity to promote and educate the public about domestic manufacturing in a setting where the merch speaks for itself, opening the conversation. “I’ve gotten an incredibly strong response to the US-made component; people love knowing the stories behind the clothes,” says Williams. “We really want to use this space as a platform for further discussion about what domestic manufacturing is and why it's important. Disposable fashion and what it’s doing to the planet is horrific.”

Utility Canvas, with its bright, durable offerings still stitched in New York City’s garment district, is the diametric opposite of fast fashion. And although the store will offer a variety of price points, shoppers can expect to pay more for a Utility Canvas or other US-made piece than they would for something superficially similar at a chain store. “We want to use this as a platform to make people aware of why things cost what they do,” says Grano. “It's just not okay for everybody to argue for $15 an hour minimum wage and then expect to pay $5 for a T-shirt. Connect the dots.”

Grano’s excited about a new, fun retail venue for Utility Canvas, Williams is pumped to be able to introduce her Utility Canvas customer base to the home goods she never had room for in her Hudson store, and both are stoked on creating a new anchor for Poughkeepsie’s downtown. “This is a beautiful city with so much going on, but we’re not trying to run away from the grittier aspects either,” says Grano. “There are interesting problems here—you can see some of the not-so-pretty aspects right in the back parking lot. We’ve been talking about the parallels and connections with the problem of increasing domestic production. On both fronts, it’s crucial that we stare the problems right in the face and work to find solutions. Thirty years of outsourcing denial is what’s gotten us into a mess.”

To the entrepreneurial team, it’s all of a piece—and the piece of clothing or decor you purchase here will last and look great for decades. These are heirloom-grade items, served up with great love.

“We’re excited about serving the whole community and bringing people together to come in, touch things, and share stories,” says Williams. “We want it to be a place where people can come and spend time and get genuine needs met. And we want it to be fun—so much fun.”

Canvas + Clothier is open daily, 11am-6pm.

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Anne Pyburn Craig

Anne's been writing a wide variety of Chronogram stories for over two decades. A Hudson Valley native, she takes enormous joy in helping to craft this first draft of the region's cultural history and communicating with the endless variety of individuals making it happen.
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