Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hipster Hunting Ground -

July 13, 2008
Surfacing | Valencia Street, San Francisco
Hipster Hunting Ground

SOME 15 years ago, Valencia Street was a forbidding mix of auto body shops, papered-over storefronts and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Despite a smattering of Victorian houses and lesbian bars, few outsiders were drawn to this grungy edge of San Francisco’s Mission District.

Then came the dot-com money. Trendy coffeehouses arrived. Hip boutiques opened next to cool bars. And now the wide, low-slung street has become a gathering spot for the city’s latest breed of cool-hunting hipsters.

During the day, Valencia Street is alive with the kind of fashionable, do-it-yourself types who subscribe to ReadyMade magazine and shop at organic farmers’ markets. You’ll see them foraging for clever, handmade crafts at the Curiosity Shoppe (No. 855; 415-671-5384;, which carries items like coffee holders knitted from yarn ($18), deer heads carved out of wood ($450) and skeleton keys fashioned out of porcelain ($40).

Across the street is Paxton Gate (No. 824; 415-824-1872;, a goth wunderkammer that carries an assortment of Japanese garden tools, mounted insects and animal skulls. And at Five and Diamond (No. 510; 415-255-9747;, a new boutique and tattoo parlor with a Gypsy carnival bohemian décor, display cases are filled with so-called “organic jewelry” and rings made from human bones.

A similar, back-to-nature aesthetic informs Valencia Street’s stylish new restaurants. Dosa (No. 995; 415-642-3672;, a bright and modern restaurant, marries traditional South Indian cuisine with fresh California ingredients. Named after the crepelike pancake, Dosa draws a lively crowd of Indian software engineers and tattooed musicians and artist types. Favorite dishes include chatni masala dosa (spicy eggplant chutney and creamy spiced potatoes, $10.50) and rava masala dosa (spiced Indian potatoes, onions and cashews, $11).

Down the block is Spork (No. 1058; 415-643-5000;, a retro-modern diner housed in a former Kentucky Fried Chicken. Instead of fast-food fried chicken, Spork turns out slow-food favorites like grass-fed beef burger ($14), Kona Kampachi sashimi ($13) and mussels and slow-roasted pork ($18).

The neighborhood cafe is Ritual Coffee Roasters (No. 1026; 415-641-1024;, where the baristas take their beans very seriously. The crowd might include Web techies pecking on their MacBooks (Flickr founders held their early meeting at the long table) to pierced activists who wouldn’t be caught dead at a Starbucks.

At night, everyone seems to head to Amnesia (No. 853; 415-970-0012;, an intimate, bordello-red lounge that serves a wide array of microbrews, wines and cocktails made from Korean soju. A small stage features a truly eclectic musical mix, including bluegrass, indie rock, jazz and Persian psychedelic.

Like the street itself, the bar’s lineup is full of surprises.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lova Revolutionary : Vintage featured in a story this month at Vegan Alternative Perth from AU

Check out a story about the awesomeness of Etsy featuring Lova Revolutionary's Vintage Owl Mini! Special Thanks to Indie Vegan + Vegan Alternative Perth find the story and more @!

Shopping online - the way to do it
Posted by charmedquark | July 5th, 2008

Wooden owl from Lova Revolutionary Why? Because it’s cheaper and there’s a much bigger range.
I’m not talking about buying from Amazon or online from large retail stores, I’m talking about going straight to the fledgling designers and buying direct.
There are massive online communities devoted to providing virtual floorspace to anyone who has something to sell. While this does mean that anyone can sell anything, there are many gems to be found amongst the mediocre and poor wares for sale.

Etsy is an example of this type of setup - a site where users can register a and set up a store where people can purchase their goods.
sugaNspice lovely brass pendant You’ll find that goods purchased online are much cheaper because sellers don’t have to factor in the cost of paying for real floorspace. Running an online store (esp. one that’s hosted by someone else) is much cheaper than setting up a real store.
You’re also pretty much guaranteed a unique purchase - especially if you’re buying from oversees.

I’ll share with you two of my own recent discoveries on etsy (somewhat grudgingly, as they only have one of most items in stock).

LovaRevolutionary sells handmade items and items that she finds in her place of residence, Fredericksburg, VA. Lots of cute vintage/retro things from shoes, handbags and accessories to wall hangings and tea-cups.

2. (a Perth girl!)
(sale on right now, hurry in!) SugaNspice sells the most adorable necklaces - lovely, intricate brass pendants. The ideas there are fabulous, little envelopes with letters saying ‘I love you’ and lovehearts with love written in several different languages. Do have a look.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Learning the lingo is fashionable

Learning the lingo is fashionable

By Suzanne D'Amato

The Washington Post

July 27, 2008,0,2706902.story

Every industry has jargon, but fashion truly speaks a language all its own. Skirts are bubbles, funnels or tulips. Cuts range from A-line to zigzag. A cotton dress can be ruched, pleated and pin-tucked, all at the same time. And that's not even considering really opaque terms such as "directional." (The word has nothing to do with turn signals or being lost: It refers to a particularly important design that might alter the trendscape—indeed, the "direction" of fashion—in months to come.)

Even if you try to learn the lingo, it's not easy. Many industry terms get bandied about incorrectly by glassy-eyed celebs or professional talking heads whose list of qualifications could fit inside a fortune cookie. I take particular issue with words that get appropriated into glossy marketing spiel. Would you be more likely to buy a $100 dress if you knew it was crafted from "couture satin"? You shouldn't. (More on that in a moment.)

Here's a brief lesson in style vocab. These terms are good to know if you want to talk the talk the next time you watch " Project Runway"—or just impress the heck out of that saleswoman at Saks.

"Couture" gets slapped on anything from tank tops to tiaras, but the word doesn't just mean "really fancy." It refers to a tradition of custom-made clothing that originated in France. Far pricier than even designer clothing, couture is for women who think nothing of paying $100,000 for a gown made of ostrich plumes. The evening-wear section of your local department store may stock chiffon frocks, beaded capelets and other dressy dazzlers, but if you buy a piece on sight and carry it out of the store, that isn't couture. It's ready-to-wear, even if you have it altered. As for Juicy Couture ... don't get me started.

A "diffusion line" is a collection of clothing that aims to offer a designer's aesthetic to the masses. Marc by Marc Jacobs, See by Chloe and Kors Michael Kors are good examples: Each delivers a soupcon of its namesake designer's look in simpler, more accessible forms. What also gets "diffused," happily, is the price; expect to see one or more zeros lopped off the end.

The notion of a "resort" or "cruise collection" tends to make people think of halter tops and midnight buffets. Indeed, these lines were once just mini-collections of lavish vacation wear. They hit stores in late fall or early winter, perfect for women en route to St. Barts. But in recent years, resort has become a big business—and, as such, an object worthy of designers' attention. Expect slacks, jackets and other structured pieces as appropriate for a Friday meeting as they are for a Fun Ship.

A "sample sale" has little to do with runway samples. After all, if only 0.02 percent of the population is slim enough to shimmy into your stuff, what's the point of a sale? The term instead has come to refer to a sale of anything and everything, which is good and bad. Usually you'll find deeply discounted stock from previous seasons, but not always. I've seen sample sales that offered new, full-price clothing, vintage jewelry and beauty products.

A "shift" is commonly confused with a "sheath," and the two words have more in common than the way they sound. Both refer to uncomplicated-looking dresses that end somewhere around the knee. The difference is that a shift tends to be less fitted around the waist and hips. Its straight lines are sweet and waifish in a way that the sheath, with all of its body-clinging tenacity, never will be. (Don't feel sorry for the sheath, though: It's shaping up to be one of fall's hot items.)

"Trunk shows" happen when a designer comes to town to showcase his or her latest collection to the ladies who lunch (though in the case of a major brand such as Marni, you may meet a store manager or label rep rather than Consuelo Castiglioni herself). Any plain Jane who wants to offer her oohs and ahhs is welcome, because these shows are free and usually take place at public venues such as swish boutiques and department stores. Consider them a great opportunity to people-watch, gawk at clothes you can't afford and quaff complimentary champagne.

Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fall Fashion Update = Everything Goes Retro

Diane von Furstenberg, Fall 08

Michael Kors, Fall 2008

Proenza Schouler, Fall 08

Anna Sui, Fall 2008

Diane von Furstenberg, Fall 08

Marc Jacobs, Fall 2008

Thakoon, Fall 2008 Resort 2009 - a few fav's


The bleak winter will get a dose of sunshine thanks to the soft sherbet hue on display at Nina Ricci and Donna Karan.

Isaac Mizrahi, resort 2009

Average animal prints took on a cartoon-like quality for resort, giving Wilma Flintstone something to celebrate.

Lanvin, resort 2009

Louis Vuitton, resort 2009

Christian Dior, resort 2009

Vintage Bags :

From eBay Obessesed Blog

by Jennifer Romolini

Good in a clutch

0724_pink 0724_wicker

I know I've written about vintage clutches before, but I might as well admit that they're a bit of a sick obsession of mine. Do you know why? Well, they're cheap, for one thing. At around $15 a pop, they're less than many of us (not me, but still) spend on lip gloss. They're also capable of actually making your outfit dressier or cooler, depending on the style. And lastly, they take up very little room, so you can collect a bunch and keep them around for special occasions (I store all of mine in one extra-large tote bag). If you have anything fancy to go to in the next couple of weeks, you should check out the following: this "Uptown Girl" '80s pink version, a super-chic white wicker one, and this gorgeous beaded piece, which looks like you found it in a Moroccan bazaar. 0724_moroccan

July 24, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cute Easy Project: Monogram Doormat

Your front door can go a long way toward making a home feel welcome, and this customized doormat is the perfect first step.

family initial stencil
manila folder
coir doormat
low-tack tape
spray paint in dark green
old newspapers
utility knife

1. Print a family initial (or fun words) using a bold font and enlarge the letter so that it is approximately 6" tall.

2. To make the stencil, tape the piece of paper with the letter on it to a manila folder. Trace around the letter with a permanent marker-- the ink will bleed through the paper, leaving an outline on the folder. Cut out the letter (use a utility knife to cut out the inside of the letter).

2. Tape down the letter on the mat where you want it,placing the tape on the back of the letters. Don’t forget to tape down the inside of the letters you cut out, if you need them.

3. To add stripes, apply 2 rows of tape to the doormat, 2" from the top and 1" apart. Repeat this across the bottom of the mat, using a yardstick to help get the stripes straight or making the lines slightly askew. Cut away the blue tape where the lines intersect one another.

4. Tape off the rest of the mat with old newspapers, so you will get paint only where you want it. Press down firmly on the tape before spray-painting to ensure that it has adhered to the mat.

5. Working on old newspapers and in a well-ventilated area (outside is best), stand above and at least 12" from the doormat and spray-paint the mat, being careful not to get the paint under the taped area (standing directly above the mat works best). Allow to dry, then remove tape.

A rare vintage: Bon voyage to fashion icon Steinberg & Tolkien

Last updated at 10:42 17 September 2007

Going, going... Steinberg and Tolkien was a treasure trove of fashion history, such as this yellow gown on sale at £520

Enlarge the image
A found farewell to the iconic London fashion emporium which inspired designers from Galliano to Gucci

Over recent weeks, the great and the good of Planet Fashion been coming in their droves to pay their respects to one of the style greats of our time.

The pavements of the nether reaches of London's Kings Road have echoed to the distinct clip-clop of Louboutin-clad feet, and the gentle padding of ballet slippers, as stylists, designers, students and aesthetes have joined the pilgrimage to Steinberg & Tolkien, the tiny, iconic boutique that gave birth to the trend for vintage when it opened its door to an unsuspecting world some 14 years ago.

It seems almost unthinkable that, at that time, it was a rare being who ventured out admitting to wearing 'secondhand' clothes, but as stylish names like Kate Moss, Helena Christensen and Winona Ryder pushed the boundaries of fashion, experimenting with vintage pieces, the quest for unique, antique style gained a momentum no-one believed possible. Suddenly, it was hip to admit your outfit had a bit of history, and Steinberg & Tolkien was at the heart of the vintage movement with its idiosyncratic take on the trend.

In a cruel twist of fate, as fashionistas from across the globe arrive for London Fashion Week to celebrate the creative genius of a city that is blessed with such a strong style heritage, and in a season where retro remains a burgeoning influence, the place where so many have unearthed vintage treasures is about to close for good.

In just a week's time, Steinberg & Tolkien will hang up the 'shut' sign on its small, black shabby-chic door for the last time, the victim of rapacious councils and landlords unapologetically exploiting commercial demand from for prime sites in London's premium shopping streets.

It is perhaps a romantic delusion to wish that this dressing-up box of a shop, which was opened mother and daughter Anne Steinberg Tracy Tolkien, could survive in 21st century Chelsea. To the untrained eye, it was a basement and ground floor crammed from floor to ceiling with clutter: no more than a stuffed second-hand shop. To aesthetes with an appreciation for craftsmanship and design details, it was Style Mecca.

"The staff there were amazingly passionate, with an encyclopeadic knowledge of the stock," says Funmi Odulate, author of 'Shopping for Vintage: the definiteive guide to vintage fashion' (Quadrille).

"Tracy, Anne and Mark were real pioneers: they didn't look at the catwalks and try and source stock to fit with trends, they just went for it with their own unique vision. Somehow, they achieved the impossible: finding vintage pieces that looked contemporary, so you didn't look like you'd walked straight out of a period drama or a 1970s sitcom. That, for me, was their special touch.

"And I'd never go there if I was in a hurry, because you would end up being in there for hours, drooling over some amazing piece from Chanel or Ossie Clark. I'd usually end up with an anonymous 1980s belt that I'd bought for a tenner, but that was equally thrilling in its own way."

So its demise is nothing short of a tragedy for the hoards of style leaders who have rummaged through the cramped rails of this two-floor Aladdin's Cave to find the kind of unique period pieces that would provide the foundation of a new look ? either in their own wardrobes or the collections that would be generated as a result of sourcing an amazing sartorial treasure.

Vogue magazine's Fashion Features Director Harriet Quick believes the store has, on some level, been a victim of its own success: "It really spawned a huge interest in vintage that didn't exist before they came into being: and they have perhaps suffered as a result, because eBay and other vintage stores have opened in their wake and made sourcing truly unique clothes much more competitive.

"However, the shop has been hugely important as an influential fashion outlet, selling a really well-chosen selection of stock, from nameless hippy fur waistcoats to exquisite Christian Dior cocktail dresses and the span of prices that represented that.

"I once bought a Loewe handbag in there and a St Laurent blouse, and remember being thrilled with my purchases: once vintage was taboo, now it's all about individuality and an expression of personality.'"

Designer Sara Berman, now co-Creative Director at NPeal cashmere, recalls heading there as an 18 year-old St Martin's fashion student: "I vividly remember buying a beautiful beaded handbag soon after I first started as a fashion student, which was 'investment vintage' rather than the shabbier styles you'd unearth on the Portobello Road.

"I couldn't really afford it, but it was simply not going to get left in the shop. Likewise, a python clutch I bought soon after.

"Steinberg was filled with exquisite treasures that you couldn't help but covet. Little girls who dreamed of being princesses could go in there as grown-ups and treat it as the most fabulous dressing-up box. It wasn't just a shop; it had a rare quality that made going there a whole experience. It'll be desperately missed and, in my eyes, is very much the passing of an era."

"It's so sad that such an institution will no longer be around," agrees fellow designer Ann Louise Roswald.

"I remember going there trying to source some vintage gloves, and I found wonderfully glamorous Fifties satin ones after rummaging in the baskets there. I then got a glove-maker to replicate them in pure white, because they were a bit grubby, but sourcing the authentic style was made easy at Steinberg. I also used to adore the amazing 1920s flapper dresses with their intricate beading, which I'd swoon over."

Berman and Roswald are not alone in their love for the store, with many catwalk legends, including Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney and John Galliano using it as a resource for design inspiration. In fact, almost every designer showing on the international runways this month has at some stage headed to Steinberg & Tolkien in search of that seed of inspiration to begin a new collection.

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"I think it is essential for all of us in fashion and textiles to look at vintage pieces and understand how they are made, and touch them, looking at the details and the inside construction," explains Professor Clare Johnston, Head of Textiles at London's Royal College of Art.

"While museums offer priceless, pristine pieces in glass cabinets, Steinberg & Tolkien allowed you to indulge the desire to feel the fabrics and see fantastic, quality examples of important trends over the years, even if you couldn't always afford to buy them."

From priceless, pristine ballgowns attributed to world-renowned labels including Fortuny, Poiret, Dior, Shiaparelli, Givenchy, YSL and Chanel, to iconic ready-to-wear by the likes of Pucci, Gucci, Mary Quant and Biba: from classic, early Hermes handbags to Roger Vivier or Salvatore Ferragamo stilettoes, the contents of Steinberg & Tolkien tell the history of high fashion through the twentieth century.

But its rails, bursting as they were with exquisite examples of haute couture and prêt-a-porter fashion, did not discriminate against anonymous treasures, as Tolkien ? author of Vintage: The Art of Dressing Up (Pavilion Books) - testifies: "My speciality was the designers of the 1960s and haute couture, but my brother Mark had a real eye for special pieces that may not have had a recognised label, but were of interest to those who appreciated design.

"It didn't matter that we couldn't specify their provenance: he found odd, amazing, kitsch pieces to make the whole of the shop have a wider style. It might have been something with a fabulous silhouette, or just a great button or an interesting sleeve shape, but if Mark found it attractive, you could bet your bottom dollar someone else would love it too.

"He travelled the length and breadth of the US in search of stock, going to rummage, sales, auctions, boot sales and private home clearances in his mission to find unique pieces.

"All the designers came in and bought stuff, from Consuelo Castiglioni of Marni to Dolce & Gabbana and the creative team from Topshop, but - other than Prada ? no-one copied complete garments per se. Mark bought the stuff that has inspired whole collections for John Galliano and the like."

But when co-owner Anne Steinberg lays out the bare facts behind the closure of the eponymous boutique, it's easy to see why they have succumbed to the harsh reality of shutting up shop: "The business rates in Kensington and Chelsea (Borough) have gone up to a staggering £36,000 a year, and the new ten-year lease we were asked to sign would have committed us to over £100,000 a year in rent alone, up from £18,000 when we first opened our doors 14 years ago. All in all, the numbers just don't add up. Anyone can see that."

Steinberg's late husband, Mark used to run a vintage jewellery stand in the renowned Chenil Antiques Gallery on the Kings Road, a business that Tracy and her brother Mark both grew up with a natural instinct for.

Today, Tracy, an American who came to study at London's Courtauld Institute, then fell in love (Tracy is married to barrister and novelist, Simon Tolkien, grandson of author JRR Tolkien, of The Hobbit & The Lord of The Rings) and settled in the capital. Now a mother of two with an enviably individual sense of style, she is pragmatic about the experience of running the store and its imminent closure.

"This was a great lifestyle business which, thankfully, was never our family's bread and butter money. We were in the privileged position of being able to put private funds into the shop to keep it going longer than it was sensible to do so, but it eventually became a vortex that kept swallowing money. It was becoming a case of 'How much money are we prepared to lose, to pursue this?'.

"The bottom line is that we can't compete with M&S, Topshop and Starbucks when it comes to having a shopfront in a prime retail location. When a rent review happens, the amounts are measured against what brands like Gap, McDonalds and Waitrose are paying, and they pay a premium because they want the profile on the Kings Road, but can afford for the store to be a loss leader amidst a wider portfolio of outlets.

"We don't have that luxury; we have to make a profit based on the overheads of running the store.

"Our landlords are perfectly legitimately saying they want a fair market rent, but we can't afford to pay what Coffee Republic or someone can pay, so we've had to call it a day. We've effectively been forced out. It's very sad, but also very straightforward."

It seems sacrilegious that this shrine to style has collapsed under the weight of capitalism. As one fashion blogger so eloquently puts it: "This isn't a place which should be dictated by economic inevitabilities but instead, it should exist in it's (sic) own orbit without interruptions from the 'real worl' (sic), because that's what it feels like when you swish 1930's delicate peach tea dresses against you or try on Courreges hats in a low ceiling basement."

"Even people who knew nothing about fashion knew it as a London landmark," says Deborah Brett, Contributing Fashion Editor at Red magazine. "The curved, sweeping black-framed windows were always so beautiful, filled with gorgeous things. For me, it was like an old, cherished friend that I'd sometimes lose touch with, but knew I could go back and re-acquaint myself and fall in love all over again.

"I was married at Chelsea Register Office, just up the road, and had bought a cream satin mink-trimmed coat at a designer sample sale, and needed a prim, early Sixties-style dress to wear with it.

"I went to Steinberg and Tolkien and found an apricot silk shantung a-line dress edged in lace. It wasn't from a specific label, but it was a true gem and perfect for the day.

"As a shop, it was so charming, and full of character: Tracy, her brother and her mother had really devoted their life to it, putting their own tastes into the entire stock so it infiltrated your own style.

It has always been a very inspiring, invigorating place in a world where everything is mass-produced and we see people in the same clothes from Primark all the time.

The thrift sisters : Telegraph UK

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 29/06/2001

DAISY and Poppy de Villeneuve don't just thrive on thrift. They live it. And the small stretch of Portobello Road in Notting Hill on which they live provides the perfect backdrop to the sisters' shared obsession with fashion. Situated within spitting distance of Portobello Market's fashion epicentre - the canopied section under the Westway - and crammed full of shops selling all things second-hand, it is a kind of heaven for those who thrive on vintage clothes and practise thrifting: the American term for the art of collecting them.

Famed for her sassy thrift-shop outfits: Chloe Sevigny

Their run-down rainbow-coloured house is like a treasure trove, stuffed full of memorabilia. At the very top of the house, in Poppy's chocolate-brown bedroom adorned with original vintage Biba lamps and leopardskin cushions, two clothes rails groan under the weight of their most prized hoard: a collection of vintage clothes that would make Chloe Sevigny - the American actress famed for her sassy thrift-shop outfits - green with envy.

By virtue of their quirky gamine good looks and innate sense of style, Daisy, 25 - whose book of illustrated text, He Said, She Said will be published later this year - and budding photographer Poppy, 21, are rapidly acquiring a kind of infamy for the way they dress. The art of vintage dressing - which is now enjoying a zeitgeist moment - is not, refreshingly, about money. It is, quite simply, about style - something that Daisy and Poppy have in abundance.

They come well by it. Their father, Justin de Villeneuve, the photographer accredited with discovering Twiggy, enjoyed iconic style status in the Sixties and Seventies. Independently of each other, his daughters describe him as 'the most stylish man ever', and giggle as they relate stories of him going out to buy a paper in three-piece suit, cravat and watch chain. More importantly for their love affair with vintage, their mother, American ex-model Jan Ward, hasn't thrown away a single item of clothing that she has ever owned.

'We just grew up rummaging through Mum's clothes,' says Daisy, by way of an explanation as to the source of their passion.


The majority of her and Poppy's clothes collection is made up of finds from their mother's wardrobe. Owing to the fact that Daisy and Poppy have such different styles, the dividing up of their mother's clothes has always been a fairly amicable affair. Poppy, the 'girlie, feminine' one with a passion for all things from the Twenties, lays claim to all the short skirts and dresses. Daisy, the 'rock'n'roll' one, whose look is much more Seventies, has an eye for a designer label and doesn't let an original Zandra Rhodes or Jean Muir number pass her by.

Despite their differing tastes, the girls share a passion for 'sifting, searching and finding'. Hardly a week goes by when they don't - either separately or together - visit their local second-hand-clothing hotspots: Portobello Market, the Antique Clothing Store (which they can see from their sitting-room window) and Retro on nearby Pembridge Road. Retro is a particular favourite as it is there that they can indulge in what Poppy refers to as 'clothes monopoly'; bringing their old outfits in, exchanging them for vouchers, and using them to 'buy' new items. This disposable take on fashion means that outfits can be worn for one night only. Poppy has been known to wear a pair of shoes far too big for her to a party, simply because they suited the occasion.

As well as allowing the creative sisters endless scope, their dressing-up-box sense of fashion enables them to remain unique. Neither tends to buy anything from the high street, simply because it would never be strictly 'theirs'. There's also the financial consideration. 'When you can't afford gorgeous high-end Prada, as we can't,' Poppy insists, 'you have no choice but to create the thrift version.' And the better the outfit created, the more it speaks for you. Hardly surprising, then, that going to a party and standing unnoticed in the corner is not something that ever happens to the de Villeneuve sisters. Blending in is just not their thing.

Information appearing on is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright

The Look:

By Suzanne D'Amato
Sunday, August 6, 2006; Page M02

Green fashion used to mean itchy hemp sweaters, saggy tie-dyed tunics and a palette of cream, beige, gray and . . . gray. Earth friendly? Sure. Stylish?

Do you even need to ask?

It had more to do with tree huggers," says Claire Brooks, president of brand consulting company Model People. "People wearing sandals, stuff like that."

But environmentally friendly clothing has done a dumpy-to-dazzling about-face, with runway accolades, media attention and celeb fans serving to all but cement its high-style status. There's nothing fashion people love like a good makeover, and green, it seems, is this year's Cinderella.

Organic cotton used to be the provenance of T-shirts and tote bags. Now, it's being snipped into slouchy jeans and crisp, tailored shirts by Loomstate, a hip, New York-based company headed up by designer Rogan Gregory. (Gregory's a busy man: In addition to his work for Loomstate and his namesake brand, Rogan, he also designs for a label called Edun, which manufactures clothes according to fair-trade principles -- and is owned by U2 frontman Bono.)

Bamboo has also joined the ritzy ranks. Panda Snack is one of several companies turning the wild and woody plant into sleek polos, hoodies and tees for men and women. As fibers go, bamboo has much to recommend it: It's naturally antibacterial, has good wicking properties and can grow one foot in a single day -- giving manufacturers no shortage of raw material to work with. Not to mention, its smooth, silky hand rivals that of the softest cotton. "When we touched it," says Panda Snack co-founder Dearrick Knupp, "we were like, 'This is bamboo ?' "

Preloved's repurposed vintage clothing. Similar styles for women available at Nana (1528 U St NW, 202-667-6955,
Preloved's repurposed vintage clothing. Similar styles for women available at Nana (1528 U St NW, 202-667-6955,
Thrift stores have long been an option for those concerned about textile waste. And if you don't care to sift through the Salvation Army bargain bin, let some enterprising designer do the heavy lifting for you. "Repurposed" designs, vintage clothes cut up and crafted into new styles, have become a big business.

Just ask Julia Grieve. The founder of Preloved, a Toronto-based company whose repurposed clothes are sold in the District at Nana, says her company recycled approximately 20,000 sweaters and 8,000 pairs of jeans to produce its fall 2006 collection. "All of which, otherwise, would pretty much be in a landfill right now," she says.

"When I started this business, I did not set out to be an environmentalist," Grieve says. "[But] it's impossible to ignore the benefits that we are offering."

Unsung Designers offers similar benefits on a smaller scale. The Adams Morgan-based company, owned by Grace Wang and Alishia Frey, stocks several designers who repurpose clothes to make everything from tie-neck blouses to funky suede handbags. "I think it's a reaction to everything being over-processed, overdone, mass-produced," Frey says. "People are trying to go back to basics."

Angela Johnson repurposed vintage top, $78. Tracey Lynn bag, repurposed from suede pants, $290. Both at Unsung Designers (2412 18th St. NW, Rear Door A, 202-234-1788,
Angela Johnson repurposed vintage top, $78. Tracey Lynn bag, repurposed from suede pants, $290. Both at Unsung Designers (2412 18th St. NW, Rear Door A, 202-234-1788, Comet Photography)
And she doesn't mean white pocket tees. For a certain shopper, Angela Johnson's bustle skirt, crafted from scraps of stretch wool and lace and available at Unsung Designers for $104, is basic.

"When people buy a brand," says Brooks, "they're trying to tell a story about themselves: 'This is who I am and what I value.' "

It comes as no surprise, then, that many eco-conscious shoppers want to buy from the company that does it all: makes organic cotton T-shirts, yes, but also pays its workers $15 an hour, subsidizes health care and peddles fair-trade java in the cafeteria.

Which is why Kermit the Frog was on to something -- it isn't always easy being green. American Apparel's higher-than-average hourly wages and its "Sustainable Edition" line, crafted from 100 percent organic cotton, have earned the company praise. Its Los Angeles headquarters is considered by many to be a model of a socially responsible business in action, from the solar energy panels on the roof to the employee bicycle rental program.

American Apparel has introduced a bevy of eco-friendly initiatives at its Los Angeles headquarters, including an employee bicycle rental program.
American Apparel has introduced a bevy of eco-friendly initiatives at its Los Angeles headquarters, including an employee bicycle rental program.(American Apparel)
But the company has garnered attention for other reasons, too. In 2003, the garment workers union Unite filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against American Apparel, claiming that the company was attempting to block unionization of its shop. (American Apparel entered into a voluntary settlement agreement with no admission of guilt.) Additionally, three former employees have filed sexual harassment lawsuits against company founder Dov Charney. One case was dismissed, the second was settled out of court, and the third has not yet come to court. Still, some wonder to what extent the press has affected the company's image.

"When you set out to make a statement that you're a socially responsible company, you raise the bar," says Brooks. "You've got to behave across the whole spectrum."

People want to believe in what they're buying. It's easy enough to trust the twenty-something design student in her Columbia Heights studio, fashioning '80s-inspired tank dresses out of thrift-store T-shirts. What about the Gaps and Wal-Marts of the world?

"When it's small companies, producers and designers doing this, they have a lot of credibility," says Brooks. "The American consumer is suspicious of big companies."

Still, at some point, if the green movement is to significantly alter apparel industry practices, if organic cotton and bamboo are to all but replace conventional cotton and polyester, then bigger companies will need to play a leading role.

"For certain people, it'll be a trend for a few years," Gregory says. "But we're not going to have a choice in a few years."

Have a style question? E-mail Suzanne D'Amato at Please include your name, city and phone number.

Have more to ask about green fashion? Join Suzanne D'Amato, Sunday Source's deputy editor and a former fashion writer at Vogue, for an online chat Tuesday at 2 p.m.

A back-to-school break: Cheap is in - from

Maddy Chais shops at Wasteland on Melrose Avenue with an eye on the back-to-school season. After moving methodically through the store, Maddy spotted exactly what she wanted: a tan MemberÂ’s Only jacket for $35. (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)

As fall approaches, thrift stores and bargain outlets are favored shopping destinations for the well-dressed teen

By Leslie Earnest

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

July 20, 2008

Back-to-school shopping is always fraught with peril for fashion-conscious teens. As they prowl the stores, they know that a summer blunder can mean a long fall stuck with stuff they don't want to wear.

"That's pretty much their main worry -- how they look," said Lauren Milani, a 17-year-old senior from Victorville. "So, of course, going back to school, you want to have new clothes and look good."

There's an added challenge this year, as higher gasoline prices and a sputtering economy have many teens and their parents keeping a closer watch on their wallets. A Deloitte survey set for release this week found that 71% of parents nationwide expected to spend less on back-to-school shopping this year than they did in 2007.

Luckily, the economic woes have ushered in the hottest trend of the season: Thrifty Chic.

"It's kind of like the red badge of courage for teenagers to have something they got cheap," said Richard Giss, a partner in Deloitte's consumer business practice in Los Angeles. "I think it's a direct result of the economy."

Wal-Mart is suddenly cool, and teens are proudly shopping off-price chains such as Marshalls and Ross Dress for Less. Hipsters scour L.A. thrift shops, searching for vintage clothes. Goodwill and Salvation Army stores are "very in," said Kathryn Finney, chief shopping officer at the Budget Fashionista.

At Crossroads Trading Co. people can sell up-to-date styles and collect 35% of the appraised retail value in cash or 50% in trade.

"We buy all day, every day," said Emma Covington, manager of the Costa Mesa store.

Some kids are doing the unthinkable -- sewing.

"The DIY movement is becoming a big trend," Finney said. "There are videos on YouTube telling how to cut up your shirt and make a skirt out of an old pair of jeans."

Sandra Elyassian of Beverly Hills is working with a $200 budget this year. The UC San Diego sophomore has already spent part of it at Old Navy and plans to dole out more at Forever 21. She also likes the thrift shops.

"I make my way to Melrose on the weekend," Elyassian said. "If I need some cheap shopping I know exactly where to look."

Elyassian is something of a pro at this; she is among a group of teens who make a little extra shopping money by providing intel on teen trends to market research firm TRU.

Maddie Mayerson has a similar gig with Team Look-Look, a group of 14-to-35-year-olds who are paid to take surveys and act as field reporters, bloggers and photojournalists for Look-Look Inc.

"Shopping is my life," said Maddie, who lives in Tarzana and turns 16 on Tuesday. "I love fashion magazines, I love trend-watching, I just really love style."

This year, the Brentwood School junior wants leggings to add to her collection, the perfect fall handbag (something slightly smaller than an overnight bag), more vintage T-shirts and flat boots. Her favorite ensemble: a T-shirt, leggings and moccasins.

The T-shirt, which serves as a short dress, typically costs $5 to $20, Mayerson said.

Couture by the bale

If that sounds a little excessive, you could join the crowds that show up on Sundays for the outdoor sale at Jet Rag on LaBrea Avenue in Hollywood, where compressed bales of used clothing are dumped into a parking lot and anything in them can be had for a buck.

About 70 people swarmed around the wads of clothes last Sunday, yanking out sweaters, jeans, shorts and fleece-lined vests -- then beaming with delight when they found the perfect dress or jacket and then grabbing another armload.

"Yes!" said 11-year-old Payton Barris of Upland as she picked upa white sundress covered with pink and black roses. "I'm going to wear a white tank top under it."

"This is fabulous," Debbie Lisbey said, examining a "Jackie O-ish" black wool dress that her 15-year-old daughter, Abigail Ashley, discovered.

By the end of the day, they had made a sizable dent in their shopping -- a $24 haul that included Levi jeans, five T-shirts, more dresses and a cashmere sweater with rhinestone buttons. Next, they were heading to Steve and Barry's (where nothing costs more than $8.98) for more jeans and hoodies.

"Then shoe shopping," Lisbey said, "and she'll be done."

Inside Jet Rag, Kelsea Bauman-Murphy wondered if she might already have overdone it.

"I feel like I have too much clothing," said the Santa Monica High School senior, 17. "I come here every Sunday and I get like 10 things."

But at the shoe rack, she paused. "I don't know if you can ever have too many shoes," she said.

Teens who attend private school are plotting their strategies too. The goal: personalize their school uniforms.

Maddy Chais, who'll turn 16 on Monday, is one of them. The Hancock Park resident, a student at Marlborough School who is also a Team Look-Look member, recently roamed Wasteland, a vintage clothing store on Melrose Avenue that's more fun than anything T.S. Eliot might have imagined.

Wearing frayed shorts, ankle boots and a T-shirt that said "L.A's Wasted Youth" on the front, Maddy moved methodically through the store, eventually spotting exactly what she wanted: a tan Member's Only jacket for $35.

"I'm so happy," she said, heading for the fitting room. "I've been looking for a Members Only jacket forever."

Hope Blain, 15, wants "the boyfriend cardigan," sweaters and scarves to make her uniform at Orange County's Santa Margarita Catholic High School "a little more me."

The Mission Viejo resident will shop at H&M, Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters, where she'll also look also for bangle bracelets and chunky necklaces.

Chain store sales

Lauren Milani likes chain stores too, especially Hollister, American Eagle, PacSun, Zumiez, Charlotte Russe and Papaya Clothing.

"I definitely go and check out the sales," said the 17-year-old Victorville resident, a senior at Granite Hills High School.

Alex Camarena, 17, in nearby Apple Valley, shops Ross Dress for Less for "name brand clothes that are cheap." The Cal State San Bernardino freshman also likes Pharmacy Board Shop in Victorville and shopping online at, which sells two pairs of jeans or cords for $29.99.

Coby Getzug, though, can't work up any enthusiasm for replenishing his wardrobe.

"Usually, when I hear back-to-school shopping I kind of dread it, actually, because it means I have to go back to school," he said.

Still, the 16-year-old Sherman Oaks resident doesn't mind going to Staples. There, he'll buy binders, dividers and enough lined paper to use all year at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where he'll be a junior.

"I get pens and pencils and stuff like that," he said. "It's kind of dorky but . . . ."

Retailers, who began filling their stores with back-to-school merchandise this month, hope this year's federal tax rebates will help shoppers loosen up a little.

Typically, when it comes to outfitting their kids, parents find a way to pay for it. In fact, there are usually two waves of back-to-school selling, one that peaks in August and another that starts after students return to campus and realize what they should have bought.

But the Deloitte survey found that 48% of households nationwide planned to cut their back-to-school spending by more than $100 this year. And 90% of parents said they'd likely alter their shopping in some way, such as using more coupons and buying more things on sale.

Retailers are egging them on, said Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group. In his household -- which includes two school-age girls -- the amount of promotional mailers, including coupons, has doubled from last year, the retail expert said.

"If I were a consumer looking to buy something," he said, "I'd be checking my mailbox."

Recessionista fashion: low prices, high style -

July 15, 2008

"It smells so good in here," said Janine Elghor as she perused the clothing and shoe racks at Clothes Mentor in Minnetonka. New to consignment shopping, Elghor said the economy made her take the plunge.

Comments about a store's aroma might seem odd or superfluous in most retail shops, but not for a consignment or resale shop. The stigma of too much musty clothing jammed into a small space has kept customers at bay for years. But whenever the economy goes south, consignment and resale shops attract new and lapsed customers.

Come on in, the water's fine, said Chad Olson, chief operating officer at Clothes Mentor in Maple Grove and Minnetonka. Customers are finding not only sweet-smelling stores but also wide aisles, comfortable, sizable dressing rooms and well-organized merchandise, he said. Even the most discerning fashion plate can find shops chic enough to satisfy an Oval Room stalker.

Business is up 5 to 10 percent at several local consignment shops compared with last year, at a time when full-price clothing retailers are struggling.

When the Clothes Mentor opened on April 5 in Minnetonka, 50 women waited in line for the doors to open. Slightly different from consignment stores that pay about 50 percent of the selling price if the item sells, Clothes Mentor gives cash on the spot, like Once Upon a Child or Plato's Closet.

Albertville resident Elghor said that she'll continue her foray into consignment shopping. The Macy's, Penney's and Talbot's shopper said that she couldn't resist paying only $7 for a blouse and $12 for a sweater from last season. "The prices are so reasonable. I'll definitely be back," she said.

How stores fight the stigma

Although their numbers always rise in tough times, consignment shoppers only make up between 6 and 12 percent of adult Americans, depending on the market, said Britt Beemer, retail analyst at America's Research Group.

Consignment shops face a lot of obstacles, Beemer said, from customer concerns about sizes and alterations to the psychological barrier of wearing someone else's clothing.

The most successful consignment stores overcome those barriers by creating stores whose decor could pass for that of full-priced retail stores. A shopper could search high and low on the windows at Fashion Avenue in Edina and Wayzata for the word "consignment," but it's not there.

"We deliberately left it off," said co-owner Gretchen Weisman. "I'm sure we've missed out on customers who don't come in because they think we're too high-end." The highest compliment is when customers say that they didn't know FA is a consignment store, said Weisman.

Many high-end consignment stores such as Fashion Avenue and GH2 in Minneapolis further blur the lines between full retail and resale by mixing in new merchandise with the pre-owned. GH2, which is also an outlet for Grethen House boutique in Edina, sends its unsold clearance to GH2. Fashion Avenue sells samples from Habitat, Moe, Wacoal and Diane Von Furstenberg.

Recycled, not used

Weisman has watched sales increase nearly 10 percent over last year at her stores, but she thinks it's more than just the economy. Ten years ago, her customers said that they would never admit to buying an item at a consignment shop. "Now they see their consignment purchases as a badge of green pride," she said. "It's not buying used clothes anymore -- it's recycling."

Weisman even reuses the plastic bags that consignors bring their clothes in as shopping bags for customers. Within reason, that is. If a customer is buying a Prada handbag, Weisman eschews the Abercrombie shopping bag for one from Neiman Marcus.

For women who love high fashion as much as does Deanna Phillips of Minneapolis, it's a life cycle. If she saves 80 percent by buying consignment at GH2, she might treat herself to a full-priced item at Grethen House. Phillips, who lived in Paris in the 1990s, said French women buy couture or something elaborate that they won't wear more than a few times, so they consign it and buy another consigned item at a fraction of the original.

Only at a consignment store (or eBay) would a shopper find a Jimmy Choo handbag for $800, regularly $2,400, seen at Rags from Riches in Wayzata last week. Or maybe Donna Karan's knockout black-label, burned-out velvet topaz dress for $1,600, regularly $5,000, also at Rags.

The secret to banishing musty odors in a store filled with used clothing? Olson said that his Clothes Mentor stores have air purifiers in each corner. If an item that was in storage smells less than fresh, some stores might ask the consignor to have it cleaned or an employee may spritz it with a little Febreze.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633 or His articles are online at News: : Start-Up Status Gone With the Skate Ramp


Start-Up Status Gone With the Skate Ramp

When is a fledgling company no longer a start-up? Once the skateboard ramp disappears, says Rob Kalin, the founder of Etsy Inc., an online emporium of handmade goods based in Brooklyn.

And while Etsy is only three years old, Mr. Kalin got rid of the ramp six months ago. But that wasn’t the only change: he knew he needed professional management. “We hit a point in growth that we needed people who have done this before,” he said.

As a result, Mr. Kalin, 28, has relinquished his role as chief executive to return to the creative side of the company, which has more than 60 employees and sells 15,000 to 20,000 items a day, Mr. Kalin said. Taking his place is Maria Thomas, who was hired in April as chief operating officer. Also joining the company is Chad Dickerson as chief technology officer. Mr. Kalin will remain as chairman and will focus on creative efforts as well as the establishment of, intended to coach vendors on producing their wares and also to establish an educational arm to guide them in running and expanding their businesses.

Mr. Kalin said he informed his company of his changing status “by calling an all-hands meeting. I put on bright coral nail polish. I told them: ‘As everyone knows, a male C.E.O. can’t wear nail polish. So I’m not C.E.O. anymore.’ ”


Crafty Biz Tips: Readymade Magazine

Seeding A Business

How To Be Your Own Huckster
by Susan Beal

Say you make duct tape wallets. Or hand-sewn handbags. Your friends have started requesting them at birthdays. In the street and at social functions you're flooded with compliments. After the hundredth time of being asked where you got your red corduroy A-line skirt with vintage embroidered patch pockets, it dawns on you that maybe you could sell your handiwork somewhere.

Two years ago I started sewing a lot. Some friends of mine who ran a hip boutique asked if I wanted to try selling my designs there. On a lark, one Saturday morning I brought in four skirts. By afternoon one of them had sold. It may not be what Steve Jobs felt watching people use the first Macintosh, but seeing someone wearing your art is pretty gratifying, and paying rent with the proceeds feels almost criminal.

Retail Therapy

Once you have perfected a few of your designs, try approaching stores you like around town. Call during off-hours and make an appointment with the manager or buyer. Bring a selection of your best-made pieces and a card, and don't act as though you're an imposition-you're actually saving the buyer from having to go out and scout for inventory.

If the buyer bites, you'll probably have two options: wholesale or consignment. Wholesale gets you a smaller cut-usually 50 percent of the retail price-but it's cash up front. Consignment nets you between 50 and 75 percent of the selling price, but there's no guarantee of a payout.

Attaching a price to your work can be tough. Start by tripling the cost of your materials and adding a fair compensation for your time. Store owners can be your guide; if it doesn't sell at top dollar, mark it down a few weeks later. Arrange to check in on a monthly basis to collect on sales. If you have designs in more than one shop, set your prices so there's no danger of underselling yourself. Either way, keep good records. Note how many pieces you put on sale and the price of each.

Though it's harder work, you can keep more of the proceeds by holding your own sale. Ask a coffeehouse, bar, studio, or gallery space to host you for trade or 10 percent commission. Invite other artists to participate so there's a bigger draw (and some help pulling it off). Then plug yourself shamelessly like you would a rock band-post flyers, send out press releases, blitzkrieg everyone you can think of with phone calls, email, and postcards.

EBay and Beyond

If you don't have the resources to launch a Web site right away, eBay is an easy way to test-drive online sales. Do a few keyword searches before you post something to see what's selling and for how much. Meli Hopkins, an artist from Florida, got started selling on eBay, but ended up creating her own site,, to steer clear of the garage-sale mentality. "People expect a deal [on eBay]," she says, "and often with quality goods the price is higher than deal-shoppers are willing to pay."

Since creating her site, Hopkins has been doing a brisk business selling handmade jewelry, vintage clothes, and used DIY books through PayPal. The equivalent of online cash, PayPal is an easy, secure, and reliable way to handle transactions once you're selling. When you register, PayPal offers a free shopping cart feature. Make sure to publicize your site. "The key to making money on the Web was getting my name out there," Hopkins says. She recommends linking with other sites and including your URL in your eBay listings.

Name Dropping

Cards and tags with your company name on them are the great legitimizer. A designer friend made mine in exchange for one of my pendants. No friends available? Inexpensive software templates can be found at most office supply stores. Copy and cut your cards yourself for maximum affordability. (Hello, Kinko's!) Simple iron-on or sew-in labels are available online; will make 250 two-line labels for $30.

It's Better with Barter

Try trading what you make for haircuts, coffee, and gifts. Gradually ratchet up until you're trading for an ad in the weekly paper or car repairs. My friend Dave made my Web site,, for trade. Now that everyone's an unemployed Web designer, this could be your most cost-effective swap.

April Is the Cruelest Month

Save every receipt. Come tax time, you can write off the gas money it takes to get to the hardware store, what you buy there, and the percentage of your rent or mortgage that covers the square footage of your workspace. A dedicated file cabinet will help determine how much you're making from what you're making and have you smelling like a rose if the IRS comes sniffing.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hot Etsy Find:

Makool Loves You: Awesome cute handmade whimsy type clothes at Etsy, featured on today's treasury! Made in Portland. Here's a few of my favs:

The dos and don'ts of ethical(ish) clothing -

Joanne Sasvari
Calgary Herald

A beaded necklace, $48, and a pin made from recycled pop cans, $15, are crafted by Kenyan artisans and available at Ten Thousand Villages.
CREDIT: Tim Fraser, Calgary Herald
A beaded necklace, $48, and a pin made from recycled pop cans, $15, are crafted by Kenyan artisans and available at Ten Thousand Villages.
A beaded viscose scarf from India, $42 at Ten Thousand Villages, is one way of looking smart while remaining responsible.
CREDIT: Tim Fraser, Calgary Herald
A beaded viscose scarf from India, $42 at Ten Thousand Villages, is one way of looking smart while remaining responsible.

It's virtually impossible to find clothing that fits all the criteria of ethical fashion -- in other words, clothing that protects the environment, human rights and labour rights. But some choices are better than others. Here are our guidelines for making those choices.


- Buy Canadian

If it's made here, it must follow certain social, environmental and labour guidelines. And it's always good to support home-grown designers and workers, especially when cheap off-shore materials and labour are threatening so much of their livelihood.

Some labels to look for: Roots, which improved its labour standards after criticism during the 2004 Olympics; Mountain Equipment Co-op; designers such as Calgary's Paul Hardy and Vancouver's Chulo Pony.

- Buy organic

Cotton is the world's favourite fabric. It is also one of the most polluting. Now a number of labels are turning to organic cotton instead.

Some labels to look for: Nike; American Apparel (though there has been some controversy over just how organic their organics are); Patagonia; designers such as Giorgio Armani and Edun. Or buy alterative fibres, such as hemp, linen, ramie or organic wool.

- Buy second-hand, vintage or recycled clothing

Nothing could be better for the environment than recycling what's already out there. Lucky us: Not only is vintage the hottest fashion trend going, but a number of talented young designers are refashioning thrift store finds into fabulous new looks.

Some labels to look for: Toronto's Preloved; Calgary's Natalie Gerber; Value Village.

- Buy from co-operatives

Increasingly, groups of Third World workers are joining co-operatives that help them get the materials and orders for their work, then co-ordinate distribution. These groups ensure the workers are paid fair wages and work reasonable hours.

Some labels to look for: Ten Thousand Villages; Just Shirts; Minkha. And, for 100 per cent union-made apparel, check out No Sweat (

- Buy from companies that have made a point of transparency

If a company is willing to disclose who its suppliers are and the labour practices in its plants, it's much less likely to be abusing human and environmental rights.

Some labels to look for: The non-profit Fair Labour Association has certified Adidas-Salomon, Liz Claiborne, Phillips-Van Heusen and Nike.


- Buy items made in countries with known human rights violations

If it's made in China -- as it seems everything is these days -- you have no way of knowing whether it was made in a sweatshop or not. If it was made in a desperately poor dictatorship, like, say, Bhutan or Haiti, you can be fairly sure someone, somewhere was exploited. Until economic pressure is brought to bear, they will have no incentive to change their practices. Some alternatives to look for: Buy from countries you know have fair labour policies in place.

- Buy knockoffs

Those cheap copies of designer bags come with a hidden cost. For one thing, they are theft, pure and simple, from the original design houses. They have also been linked to organized crime, drug smuggling, money laundering, human trafficking and a host of other crimes.

Some alternatives to look for: Save up and buy the real thing. Otherwise, carry a cute non-designer bag and flaunt your individuality.

- Buy synthetics

If you knew what went into synthetic fabrics, you wouldn't want them next to your skin.

Many contain suspected carcinogens such as formaldehyde and perfluorinated chemicals (the stuff that makes clothes "no-iron") as well as dyes, flame retardants and other chemicals.

Some alternatives to look for: Natural organic fibres; eco-spun fortrel, which is a high-performance fleece made from recycled soda bottles.

For more information

- The CUSO fair trade fashion show will be held May 11 at Artspace Gallery, 1235 26th Ave. S.E. It will feature speaker Adam Neiman from Boston's No Sweat Apparel. Tickets are $10, $8 for students. For information, go to or call 283-2871.

- Just Shirts are plain T-shirts made by a co-operative of single mothers in El Salvador. They are 100 per cent cotton, short- or long-sleeved and come in a variety of colours. They cost $10 to $15, or $6 to $7 for bulk orders. For information, go to

- Minkha is another co-operative of women, these based in Bolivia, who knit gorgeous, brightly coloured sweaters that retail for $125 to $250. Go to

- Ten Thousand Villages is an international organization that has worked with artisans in Third World countries for almost 60 years. Go to or check out the two local stores at 220 Crowchild Tr. N.W., 270-0631, and 8318 Fairmount Dr. S.E., 255-0553.

Other websites with information about fair trade and ethical fashion include:






- (International Fair Trade Association)

- (Maquila Solidarity Network)




© The Calgary Herald 2006

Handmade...and how

By Danielle Capalbo and Jeff Miranda Globe Correspondents / June 27, 2008

From Newbury Street to the South End, there are plenty of places to shop for quirky wares in Boston, and this weekend, the Boston Handmade Marketplace takes it up a notch.

Tomorrow in Somerville's Union Square, more than 25 vendors will be hawking hand-painted teapots, dolls crafted from recycled materials, and silver jewelry modeled after birch bark and acorns, among other wares. We're fond of the Vintage by Crystal collection, which features strange, whimsical little sculptures hand-spun from cotton. And don't miss the adorable fernanimals greeting cards, especially the one with a drawing of snuggly lions lying in a field of grass. It's all far more interesting than anything you'll find combing through the neighborhood drugstore.

The fair is being put on by the Somerville Arts Council, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and, a well-known crafts blog where artists can buy and sell homemade goods. You can catch a glimpse of what to expect at the fair at Etsy, where all the vendors have their own pages.

You can also read about the goods being sold, and the people behind them, at, home to the creative folks behind the Boston Handmade organization, which formed last year. "In New England, there's a large percentage of artists and craft people who are self-employed and run their own small businesses and attempt to make their living off what they create by hand," said founder Jessica Burko. These kinds of fairs help them do just that.

Tomorrow's show is Boston Handmade's largest to date, so you should be able to find a trinket for your living room, or better yet, some inspiration for your own one-of-a-kind project.

The Boston Handmade Marketplace is tomorrow from 3 to 7 p.m. in Somerville's Union Square.

Danielle Capalbo and Jeff Miranda are fourth-year journalism students at Northeastern University. They can be reached at and

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Buy And Sell Homemade Items At

Al Ruechel, Your Technology, in a nutshell, is a site that helps you buy or sell hand crafted items.

Pictures show handmade T-shirts, handmade jewelry, pins and curios of every size and shape.
There are also one of a kind paintings; the list goes on and on.

There are more than 58,000 so the selection of items seems almost endless. Using a map, you can find sellers by location, which can affect the bottom line.

Buying is as simple as finding a picture of the item on the Web site and adding it to your cart. Shipping prices vary by weight and distance.

If you want to sell your crafts you register for a username, which is then linked to the etsy site. You do need an active credit card. Each item you sell with a picture of the item and a description will cost you 20-cents. It remains on the Web site for four months. When you sell an item there is a 3.5 percent sales fee collected by etsy.

Al Ruechel: I have talked to people who both use this site to purchase and sell hand-crafted items. They tell me price is very reasonable compared to say going to a flea market and payments to the sellers from etsy have been timely. The only problem some people have is getting into the site because apparently word has gotten out and it's very, very popular in the craft world.

News 13 On Demand Logo Cropped
To see more Your Technology stories, go to News 13

Chad Dickerson leaves Yahoo for Etsy - PDA: Digital Content Blog - Guardian UK

Another one bites the dust: Chad Dickerson, head of Yahoo's Brickhouse project and one of the forces behind Hack Day, is leaving. And he's staked out a fantastic new job as chief technology officer for one of my favourite websites -, the auction site for crafts.

ETech 2007 (Wednesday)
Photo by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Dickerson is just one more departure in a steady flow from Yahoo. Yep, it's a big company but the turmoil over potential acquisition (not to mention the prospect of being owned by Microsoft) has turned that trickle into something more worrying. Yahoo's brainpower, and many senior, well-regarded executives, is being soaked up by Google, Facebook and the rest of the Valley. So Dickerson is being a tad more original, and we like that. He also gets to go back home to the east coast.

He'll look after Etsy's technical infrastructure, application development and network infrastructure... more on Etsy's announcement last night. Dickerson doesn't reveal anything about the state of Yahoo:

"In leaving, I'm confident that Brickhouse is in good shape. The product teams (Fire Eagle and Yahoo! Live) are focused and cranking. Brickhouse continues to attract new talent and strong support from Yahoo management."

The Guardian's own Matt McAlister, formerly of Yahoo's parish, said Etsy should be ranked high on the to-watch list, but said Dickerson departure was unfortunate for Yahoo.

"Yahoo needs forward-thinking leaders like Chad who can make things happen. Retention must be top of mind at Yahoo before key institutional knowledge slips out the door and forces people to rethink things that have already been thought through," McAlister blogged last night.

"There are lots of great reasons to participate in the future of Yahoo where the Open Strategy stuff is unfolding. The Flickr Era set the stage for a lot of these smart ideas at Yahoo. I only worry that the pace of release at the company will fail to create the impact that will make those changes matter. It's not uncommon for great technology to lose due to bad timing."

I do love Etsy, but the duct tape laptop bag takes it a bit far...

New Arts Festival Aims to Get Away from the Traditional - Washington, DC

by LAURA MANSILLA, Staff Writer
(Created: Friday, July 18, 2008 10:14 AM EDT)

Christine Stoddard is the organizer of the Neo-Indie Arts Festival, which will take place July 26 at Thomas Jefferson Community Center.
Many teens possess copious raw creative talent, but the opportunities to display it seem few and far between.

The Neo-Indie Arts Festival, which will take place on Saturday, July 26 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, hopes to change this.

Sponsored by Simply Lark Press, the festival is an alternative media outlet, and will feature the work and performances of local teens. Registration is still open to those who want to submit their art or sign up to perform their music.

Admission will be free, although participants are encouraged to bring spending money for the various jewelry and crafts that will be available.

“I noticed that there wasn't a festival that catered to underground arts or [was] geared towards teenagers. This is, hopefully, a way to highlight and emphasize some of their work,” said Christine Stoddard, an interdisciplinary artist and president of Simply Lark Press, who co-founded the festival along with Daly Martinez.

Stoddard dreamed up the idea for the festival while she was, appropriately, in an art class at Grinnell College.

“I tend to brainstorm a lot, and just thought, ‘Why not?'” she said.

Stoddard immediately contacted her friend, Martinez, who thought it was a great idea, and the idea began to evolve over time.

However, making the idea a reality wasn't easy. Funding was the biggest issue for the duo to face, as money for printing and advertising was difficult to obtain.

Finding a location to hold the event also proved problematic. But Stoddard and Martinez contacted local businesses and schools, and arrangements finally were made. The festival, which started out as a mere daydream, had become an actual event.

Highlights of the festival will include a Battle of the Bands, a 'zine-making workshop and a marketplace, which will feature alternative and do-it-yourself crafts.

“We're trying to get away from traditional, mainstream art to emphasize what is underground and interesting - even radical,” Stoddard said.

A fashion show also is in the works, depending on whether or not a sufficient number of designers contributes to the festival. And for those who want to grab a bite to eat, local students will be selling food as part of a fund-raiser.

From what Stoddard has seen, Arlington doesn't have a defined and consolidated art scene, compared to bigger cities like New York or Chicago. This is why it is so important for Arlington to emphasize the talent of its young people, she said.

Although the focus is on the younger set, the festival is open to people of all ages and welcomes the attendance of families.

“We want this to become a tradition,” says Stoddard. “So, I plan to hand out surveys and include a raffle drawing, as well. There is no way to gauge how many people will show up, but if we have at least one hundred, I'd be willing to try again.”

For more information on the festival or to register as an artist or performer, contact Stoddard at

Copyright © 2008 Suburban Washington Newspapers Inc.

Do-it-yourself crafters have do-it-yourself show and sale: - Asheville NC

Paul Clark

Club shows and coffee shops have been where you’d find the intricate, whimsical work of Asheville’s indie crafters.
Now they’re getting together for The Big Crafty, the community’s big coming out party.

“The difference between indie craft and the wider world of craft is that indie craft is more accessible,” said Brandy Bourne, who refashions jewelry out of vintage pieces and creates the hipster “Ladies of Punk” coloring books.
“I heard someone describe indie crafters as people that spend a lot of time on computers,” she said. “There’s a desire to connect more with things without having to be a career crafts person. For me, it’s more of a fun outlet than a primary source of income.”
Indie craft, the subterranean cousin of the fine craft industry, is emerging nationally as a recognized art form, much like “outsider art” became mainstream decades ago in the fine arts world.
But The Big Crafty isn’t just jumping on the indie craft bandwagon, organizers contend.
Asheville has craft and indie “cred” in its bones (there are more than 100 Asheville-based sellers on, an indie craft Web site).
The Big Crafty’s soul mates are the craft fetes Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn and San Francisco, the Bazaar Bizarre in Boston and Los Angeles and the Indie Craft Experience in Atlanta.
The Big Crafty includes established artists such as Suzie Millions, a Fairview resident whose book “The Complete Book of Retro Crafts” (Sterling Publishing, $14.95) was released in January. Also showing work is the Knoxville, Tenn., letterpress print shop Yee-Haw Industries.
“It’s really hard to pigeonhole what indie craft is, but you know it when you see it. There’s a certain edge to it,” said crafter Justin Rabuck (painting and woodcuts). “Some of it will be familiar to people knee deep in that art scene. Hopefully to the rest of Asheville and the world, it will be an eye-opening big surprise that will leave everyone with a big smile.”