Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vintage fashion is always in style -

By Sandra Barrera Staff Writer

'Retro' fashion allows savvy consumers to look good for less -

By Katie Kleine • The Reporter • September 23, 2008

You see it everywhere: on TV, in magazines, on the street and, once upon a time, it graced your parents' closets.

As with generations before, fashion trends are double dipping into the styles of past eras. Clothes from the 1930s and '40s all the way to the 1980s (which may not be very long ago to some) are once again back in vogue.

"The majority of my clothes are vintage, and the ones that aren't I usually add a little retro spin to," said Ashley Coffey, 17, a senior at Fond du Lac High School. "Most of my clothes are late 1950s to early 1960s, that soon-to-be-liberated housewife look. I do like to dress in some '70's punk and I really like the mod look, too."

For many, it may feel like they are in a time warp as today's generation struts about in plaid skirts and pencil jeans, vests, Converse shoes, gauze, argyle, hounds tooth and polka dots, mini skirts with leggings, jumpers with turtlenecks, brown leather boots, skinny ties, jean jackets and bomber jackets, thick rimmed glasses and aviator shades. And are they even called petal pushers or clam diggers anymore?

"The '80's have really come back — thick belts and skirts with leggings, skinny jeans — mod boots, those flat black boots, are coming back into style," Coffey observed.

These fashions have all made a comeback and are filling stores deemed as new designer fashions.

"We sell a lot of vintage T-shirts that are made to look faded with designs from the '70's," said Mandy Adams a sales associate with Fashion Bug of Fond du Lac. "We just did a fashion show here and a lot of the models wore the vintage T's under jean jackets, which are also coming back."

Cost conscious

In reality, these fashions never really went away.

They were pushed to the back of the closet to make room for the new shopping season and then pushed a little further to the attic until spring cleaning and an urge to be charitable brought them to second-hand shops like Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul.

Second-hand shops, along-side department stores, are joining the ranks of preferred retailers for "millennials" or Generation Y.

"I see a bit of both," said Adams. "People do buy the made-to-look vintage clothes, but they also hit up the second-hand stores, as well. I know my mother has a lot of vintage stuff and when we go through her clothes I say, 'Oh! We sell this.'"

Stores like Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul sell gently used donated items at low cost, retailing everything from electronics, artwork and décor, toys, reading materials, furniture, jewelry, shoes and clothes.

Built to last

Some of the appeal to vintage fashions also lies in the price.

"I like to shop at Goodwill and 'St. Vinnies,'" said Guell. "You can find some of the coolest shirts ever and never pay more than $10."

Many teens and young adults believe some of today's styles are too "cookie cutter" and aren't unique. Young consumers also know that they don't make clothes like they used to — sturdy.

"It makes me sad buying clothes nowadays. They fall apart so easily," Coffey said. "Back then, they used thicker stronger fabrics and everything was made to last longer. Now everything is cheaply made."

Coffey attributes her two favorite finds — a $3 pair of 1960s Italian leather riding boots and a $1 pair of vintage purple leather gloves — to Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul.

Never out of style

The fact that they are used has no apparent bearing on the growing popularity of yesteryear. If anything, it adds more character.

"Being into music and skateboarding really got me into my style of clothes," said Tom Guell, 24, of Waucousta. "I like the retro/western look and it's comfortable. A lot of stores are selling clothes now that look vintage, but it's not the real deal. The best stuff is actually old."

So the big questions remain: Why is retro and vintage fashion so popular? Where do you find the best deals?

"I love history in general and when I wear vintage clothes I feel like I am wearing history," Coffey said. "I love learning about the past and this way I can wear it."

So as a new decade quickly approaches, fashions of the 1990s will soon fall in line with the mini-skirts and leggings of the '80s. Soon we will see the return of cargo pants, tech-vests, Dr. Martens and Chuck Taylor All-Stars, and wide-leg, low-rise and hip-hugger jeans — complete with the ever-popular, yet not-so-appealing, show of underwear.

And like clockwork, following that "every 20-year rule" that our parents told us about when we were 16 and scavenging their old, yet back-in-style clothes, Goodwill and "St. Vinnies" will put out a new crop of old trends.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wear This, Not That: Eco-Aware Style -

There are several ways to give your wardrobe a green boost. You can make a commitment to fill your underwear drawer with items made from organic cotton, you can seek out pants - and skirts and shirts - made from planet-friendly materials like hemp and bamboo, or you can keep warm with fleece vests and jackets made from recycled plastic bottles (PET).

These environmentally friendly clothing options may be more and more accessible, but that doesn't mean they are cheap. In fact, garments constructed in an earth-conscious manner are usually more expensive than their conventional counterparts. You can chalk it up to the price of looking good while doing good, but that doesn't make it any easier for those on a budget to dress green.

But today there are options for frugal fashionistas who put Mother Earth first. Exciting options. Eco-advocates with a limited fashion allowance can now infuse consciousness into their closets without spending a dime. That's right - you can remain trendy and eco-aware with nothing more than some determination and a sharp eye.

I think of it this way: Most people seek out new clothing not because they truly need another pair of dark blue skinny jeans or an emerald-green wrap dress or a pair of shiny red boots, but because they are suffering from a severe case of wardrobe fatigue. When you open your closet and feel incredibly uninspired, it's natural to seek relief in the form of retail therapy.

But this process is not only hard on your wallet, it's tough on the earth. Buying more new stuff - from appliances and CDs to books and clothes - means that more things will eventually end up clogging landfills that are already overflowing. The solution? By working together, through innovative swapping organizations and high-quality vintage outlets, we can tap into the hundreds of millions of articles of clothing that are sitting in drawers and closets across the country, unused and unloved. One person's reject can become another's treasure. Here's how:

Swap it out
You may be bored with your charcoal-gray cowl-neck sweater, but it's exactly what I've been looking for. I don't fit into my pinstriped white pants anymore, but you do. This is the cooperative thinking that fuels the clothing swap: a gathering of women centered around a big pile - or, if organized, many separate, categorized piles - of clothing that is there to be dug into enthusiastically.

The clothing swap is nothing new, but it has taken on modern features that are decidedly contemporary. Historically, a swap has not only been a chance to find a gem, but also an excuse to throw a party. But for those who don't live in a swap-friendly town or who are too busy to commute to the occasional gathering, the Internet has once again come to your rescue. Technological advancements now make it possible to swap online. Visit for access to clothing and accessories from around the world. A quick registration will lead you to a seemingly endless supply of fashion finds that can be accessed for free. You gain credits by listing items to swap that can in turn be used to score the ultimate pair of jeans or dreamy pair of shoes.

Go vintage
We've entered a new era of vintage clothing. The musty, cluttered, often unpleasant used-clothing experience has been replaced by clean, pleasant shops that feature the best of gently used garments. This makes it easier to do right by the planet. When you choose clothing that once belonged to somebody else, you're helping to keep older clothes out of landfills. You also get extra eco-points for choosing not to purchase new items that are often manufactured irresponsibly.

Plus, going vintage is more fun than it's ever been. Many stores weed through their inventory to offer shoppers only the best clothing and shoes, so the excitement of the search is still there, but so is the chance that you'll actually find something you like. You can find fabulous vintage stores in most big cities in the country. San Francisco and my hometown of New York have always been my favorite places to hunt for treasures, but quality vintage is not limited to the coasts. Check out and for guides to the best vintage shops in the country.

Borrow it
One of the highlights of seeing the "Sex and the City" movie last week (late, I know. It's tough to get out with a new baby) was when Jennifer Hudson's character, Louise, gives the Web site the biggest shout-out it could ever have hoped for. What a fabulous, eco-friendly concept. Instead of shelling out ridiculous amounts of cash for a new luxurious accessory that you'll most likely become bored with anyway, why not rent it? For a reasonable fee - members pay less - you can be the proud borrower of handbags, jewelry or sunglasses from an A-list of major designers for a week or several months. Good for you, good for the earth - a stylish win-win.

Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on "The Lazy Environmentalist" (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.

Rad Etsy Finds : Vancouver's LittLe HOuses

LittLe HOuses caught my eye in the Etsy Treasury quite a few times - rad jackets, hats, pants, & accessories - fresh style featuring solids, quite plaids, handmade buttons, and great lines - all handmade by Shanah an Independent Designer in Vancouver, BC. Shanah designs have a truly unique style and she constructs an awesome product from start to finish. Shanah's noteworthly fashions sparked my interest, so I decided to find out more!

Shanah - Thanks so much for the interview and for letting me feature Little Houses on Lova Revolutionary Blog! Your designs are vicious - very cool and sophisticated, yet a little urban and punk rock! I see your designs appealing to a wide variety of stylish people.

In your own words, Please describe Little Houses style.

I think my clothes have an artistic style to them. I did a year of Art School before I got into fashion so I feel like a lot of that has leaked into my sewing. That's also how I got into making my own ceramic buttons. I like to make clothing that is just a little bit different from the 'norm'.

How did you get started creating and designing your own line? And how long have you been sewing?

I have been sewing for as long as I can remember, but up until I actually went to school for it, I could only sew squares. A girlfriend that I went to Art School with and I started making bags and doing lino cut prints and silk-screened images onto them. We would sell them at local markets. That's kind of when I realized that I loved sewing and I wanted to learn how to do it technically.

Are there any artists/designers that you find influential/inspirational, independent or otherwise?

There are a lot of really great local designers in Vancouver. I have a huge appreciation for people who make things by hand, whether its sewing or not. I'm a bit of a sucker for ceramics! It's just really inspiring seeing people doing what they love. It's not easy being an artist, you really have to work hard and not get discouraged, so when I see someone doing it and doing well at it, it pushes me to keep going.

Are there any other artistic mediums that you enjoy?

I love painting, and drawing. I also love the pottery wheel, I just wish I had more time for it! I currently have a pottery wheel in my garage that never gets used. I also love to knit and make jewelry. Basically if it's something I can do by hand, I love it!

Other than Etsy, where can we find your designs?

I have another online shop on a website called Supermarket. I also sell in stores in Vancouver at Twigg & Hottie, and Dream. In Seattle at Galactic Boutique, in Portland at Makool and in Boston at Oak.

Do you have any new & upcoming projects in the works?

I am currently working on some sweaters for the winter and some new jacket designs. In the winter I make warmer, cozier hooded jackets usually made of wool so I'm working on those right now. Jackets are my favorite thing to make so that's what you will see the most of!

Tell me about your favorite things about Vancouver and your favorite cup of coffee.

I love all the good restaurants in Vancouver, I love the local food markets as well as all the local craft markets. I love that I can ride my bike all year round! My favorite cup of coffee is an Americano from Caffè Artigiano, delicious!

Find Shanah & Little Houses on the web:
Little Houses @ ETSY
Hathouse @ ETSY
Litte Houses @ Supermarket
Little Houses Blog

In Stores:
Vancouver: Twigg & Hottie and Dream
Seattle: Galactic Boutique
Portland: Makool
Boston: Oak

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Ambassador of Handmade


THE entrepreneurial spirit of the modern crafts girl should not be underestimated. Faythe Levine, a 30-year-old gallerist, collector, maker and all-around booster of the indie-D.I.Y. crafts movement began six years ago with some sock monkeys and a handstitched felt owl.

Today, Ms. Levine, whose tattooed arms are twined with more hearts, flowers and lettering than a crewelwork sampler, is the proprietor of a crafts store and gallery, as well as the prime documentarian and patron saint of what she calls the handmade nation. She is cited in academic journals, quoted in magazines and newspapers, appears on TV and has been a keynote speaker at arts symposiums.

Back in 2002, however, Ms. Levine was a sometime artist who made punk rock zines. That year, she organized an art show of sock monkeys in her home, sock monkeys being universally appealing objects requiring not much medium, she explained, mostly just socks. She had 80 submissions, most of which sold.

The next year, she began making stuffed felt owls and selling them online; the success of the business — she had orders for 200 at a time — wreaked havoc on her neck and back. Before long, she found herself knee-deep in the alt-crafts world, attending its Lollapalooza-like events and becoming a part of a tight, mostly female, quasi-political community.

“I was going to all these fairs and I remember thinking: Something big is happening. This has to be documented,” Ms. Levine said. “People were writing about it, magazines were starting,” she said, referring to publications like ReadyMade, which started in 2001 and contained projects like Slayer T-shirt pillows, as well as newer magazines like Make and Craft.

“Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft and Design,” a feature-length documentary that she financed largely on credit cards, will be shown at festivals and museums early next year. The film (, which has a cute-spooky soundtrack by Ms. Levine’s band, Wooden Robot (that’s Ms. Levine on the musical saw), portrays the handiwork of groups like Houston-based Knitta (which ties knitted “graffiti” tubes around street lamps) and Jenny Hart’s Sublime Stitching company in Austin (which produces and sells embroidery patterns of space aliens, hypodermic needles and human organs).

It is a sweet-toned record of a new and growing community, one with its own esthetic, lifestyle and economy. “If you don’t like the culture you’re in,” said one young woman at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago, voicing the movement’s anti-industrial, anti-institutional and highly entrepreneurial manifesto, “you have to create your own.”

An eight-minute teaser that Ms. Levine posted on YouTube in 2006 caught the attention of the Princeton Architectural Press, which commissioned a book, out this month, with the same title as the film. (Ms. Levine wrote it with her friend Cortney Heimerl, another crafter and curator.)

As of this week, the YouTube teaser has had nearly 90,000 views. Meanwhile Etsy (, the online department store for the D.I.Y. set, which claims to have had a million users since 2005, recently received a cash infusion of $27 million from a group of investors led by Accel Partners, a venture capital group that has also invested in Facebook.

Home stores like Urban Outfitters and, to a lesser extent, West Elm, continue to limn the handmade look — the woodland creatures, the deadpan-delicate drawings of nature scenes, “the whole cuteness factor,” as Ms. Levine put it — in many of their products.

Back in Milwaukee, though, Ms. Levine is just trying to pay the rent, cheerfully juggling commitments that sometimes help her do that and sometimes don’t: band practice; an artist’s residency; independent curating; the “Handmade Nation” book tour (Princeton Architectural Press is printing 20,000 copies, a huge number for the house); and other speaking engagements.

Then there’s the administration of Art vs. Craft, the crafts fair she started here in 2004, and running the Paper Boat Boutique and Gallery, a store she owns with a friend, Kim Kisiolek, which sells handmade objects.

She’d like to pay off those credit cards, too ($30,000 would about do it, she said).

For a year and a half, Ms. Levine and her boyfriend, Nathan Lilley, a guitar player in an indie rock band, have been living in a large, airy apartment above the store, in a hundred-year-old brick building that used to house a bar, once the requisite business on nearly every corner of her working-class neighborhood.

The apartment is filled with her “addictions,” as she calls her collections of handmade books, zines, records, paintings, drawings, Outsider art and objects like a crocheted anatomical heart by Merrilee Challiss, an Alabama artist, and a hand-stitched stuffed yellow lion she bought for $50 at a store called ReForm School in Los Angeles.

On a recent afternoon, Ms. Levine wore cowboy boots and a vintage Liberty print dress, its demure flowers a counterpoint to her extensive body art, much of it paid for by bartering artwork. This particular collection — of tattoos — was started when she was 17.

“I’m lucky my taste hasn’t changed,” she said, pulling off a boot to reveal her latest, a zebra face with a circus headdress that had been inked onto her left calf and was still a bit scabby.

The surface area of one’s skin provides a built-in limit for the collector of tattoos. If one collects three-dimensional objects, however, one is limited only by the ability to pay for storage.

“I have enough for four houses,” Ms. Levine said. “In dreamland, I would open a museum.” She pointed out some of her favorite objects, like a picture by Mike Brodie, a train-hopping photographer, “of my friend Jessie’s shack, which she built from garbage in North Carolina” and a sequined coyote pelt hanging over her bed. (“Sequined taxidermy, how awesome is that!”)

On a linoleum table in the dining room, a mushroom-bedecked vase, crocheted doily and assemblage of tiny carved wooden critters offered the complete ironic-cute dialectic that is the visual arsenal of the modern D.I.Y. esthetic.

“My whole place is saturated in it,” she admitted.

Ms. Levine grew up in Los Angeles and Seattle, with parents who were as much at home in the alternative world as she. Her father, Rick Merlin Levine, is an astrologer whose work is syndicated to AOL and Google; her mother, Suzanne Wechsler, is an organic dairy farmer.

“They were always pretty supportive of any creative urge I had,” Ms. Levine said.

Her “gateway drug” into the handmade life, she said, was the zine culture of the underground punk rock scene. That world, with its vegan anarchist collective restaurants and plywood punk houses, its handmade record covers and hand-lettered, stapled newsletters, and its network of fans connected by old-world skills like letter writing, was a Luddite’s paradise of 21st-century homemakers and do-it-yourselfers.

“Everything is mass-produced,” Ms. Levine said. “Here were these people doing things the hard way, making these amazing things. It was the incredibly awesome idea that people were taking the time to do this, and that I could do it, too.”

The democratic world view of the modern crafter — the unschooled, technique-and-judgment-free energy of it all — is what pulls many in. “I’m no seamstress, I can’t hem anything, and I’m too impatient to learn how to knit or crochet,” Ms. Levine said, “but I love just stitching.”

It is also what irritates old-school craftspeople, those who might have come out of the American studio crafts movement of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Yet their ideals are the same, according to Andrew Wagner, the editor of American Craft magazine, which redesigned itself last year in an attempt to bridge the two worlds.

Mr. Wagner, a founding editor of Dwell magazine, went on to say, “It’s still about working outside the mainstream, and making a living doing what you love. We saw this huge new movement, which Faythe is cast as sort of the poster child for, and it and the old guard weren’t communicating.”

There was, Mr. Wagner said, some real hostility: “The old guard was saying: It took me 20 years to master my craft, and these kids think they can start by just stitching owls.”

“It would be incorrect to say there’s nothing of quality coming out of the D.I.Y. world,” he continued, “but what they bring to the table is what’s important. Their energy is infectious, which is why I call D.I.Y. the punk rock of the craft world.”

In the current issue of American Craft, an article titled “DIY Grows up: The Political Power of the Do-It-Yourself Movement,” chews over the state of the crazy quilt it has become: the fairs awash in money from corporate sponsors, the huge market for the objects sold there and the confusion that has arisen for the makers.

Is a handmade object still subversive if buyers are willing to pay more for it than the maker could afford to pay herself? Do the tight bonds of the community and its micro-economies trump the appetite of mainstream culture for the authenticity those bonds and economies represent?

“The handmade look is definitely a trend everywhere, from the art world to the stores,” Ms. Levine said. “But I think it helps the community, because someone can go to Urban Outfitters and then to a craft fair and relate that look back. It makes it all stronger.”

Still, she said, “I do understand the turn-offs. If you see 100 owls, it’s hard not to get annoyed and bitter.”

Ms. Levine, who receives hundreds of submissions from makers who want to be shown in her gallery, does see a lot of owls. “But even when I turn people down,” she said, “I want to send a message: Don’t stop. What matters is that people keep making things.”

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Etsy Treasury! Fire Engine Red Foxy Lady Flat Boots

Hey hey! The Fire Engine Red Boots made it into a very Foxy Lady Treasury created by JetWhitePonyTail - Visit her shop on etsy:

Check out the fab foxy Treasury

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Awesome Etsy Finds: Kitsch Cafe!

I found this awesome & hip retro shop in my 'hearts me' list on Etsy called Kitsch Cafe, which features a rad selection of vintage & retro items handpicked by Drew! Drew's an all around thrifty/crafty guy and professional designer that lives & etsys from Cincinnati, Ohio. His great eye for style, design, color, and cute vintage things made me wanna 'heart' his store back! His photos and site displays are amazing, I can't wait to see more from Kitsch Cafe! I didn't know I was 'convo-ing' a famous person when I asked Drew for an interview for the blog - one of his knitting patterns was recently published in one of Debbie Stroller's (of BUST Magazine Fame) Stitch N Bitch books - Son of Stitch N Bitch - Knitting & Crochet for Men! Drew was kind enough to find time to answer a few questions for me...

Here's the Interview:

Since I've visited your shop and blogs, I can tell you have a great sense of style, color, and an eye for design...Can you tell me more about what got you interested in art and design?

DREW: I was a crafter at an early age. I was always making something, usually with paper. Whether it was making small books and cards or spending hours with origami paper, I always had the urge to be creative.

It was always very easy for me to use my hands to draw, cut, glue, etc. It's very natural to me. It comes from my father who used his hands for his career and who loves woodworking as a hobby. My eye comes from my mother, who was always wearing the latest Escada suit and carrying Louis Vuitton bags before anyone else.

I knew I wanted to have a career that was creative, so I studied graphic design in college. I credit my professors for exposing me to the best design, past and present, and for fine tuning my eye. I am currently a graphic designer at Xavier University in Cincinnati. I design a lot of the printed material that the university sends out to prospective students and alumni. I get to be creative everyday!

When you hunt for vintage treasures, where do you go?

DREW: I have always loved thrifting. I used to wear almost only thrifted clothing. As I got older and started living on my own, I needed inexpensive furniture, artwork, etc. So, I started buying furniture and knick knacks at thrift stores.

While I was thrifting I'd see so much that I'd want to buy, but I wouldn't because I had limited space. I opened Kitsch Café so that I'd have an excuse to buy all that stuff!

Are there any vintage finds you haven't found but want to?

DREW: I always dream of walking in to a thrift store and finding a wooden Eames chair, Nelson desk, or some other mid-century jewel. Other than that, there is nothing specific that I am looking for. There have been some really great finds that I wasn't expecting. For example, I happened to find a mod pair of Beriozka Russian dolls that I absolutely adore for their style, color and uniqueness.

My family is originally from the outskirts of Cleveland... They've wanted to return ever since they moved to the District! Do you love Ohio?

DREW: I have lived in Ohio most of my life. I grew up in a small town near the Indian border and came to Cincinnati to attend design school.

To be honest, I'm sort of indifferent about living in Ohio. However, I do love living in Cincinnati. The arts community here is amazing as well as the blog community. There are also more branding firms in Cincinnati than any other US city, so it seems as though everyone here is a designer or creative director. The music scene is great, too. I really do believe that Cincinnati will be the next Portland or Austin in 5-6 years. There are so many new people moving here, there's a buzz that everyone is feeling, it's hard not be excited.

Two years ago I started another blog, called designcincinnati, to highlight all the great design related events, people, shops, etc. in the area. It was a blog niche nobody was filling. Since starting designcincinnati I've had a lot of great exposure in the press, including winning an iPhone as a prize for being one of the top local blogs sponsored by the chamber of commerce.

You're new to Etsy! What are your first impressions?

DREW: I was a bit scared opening my shop. I didn't know what to expect. However, I love it so far. Everyone I have met through Etsy has been very kind and generous. I am still learning the ropes and figuring out what sells, how to present it, how to market my shop, how I can make it better... I'm definitely setting major goals for myself and doing my best to reach them.

What do you craft? Any current projects or new exciting ones in the works?

DREW: I started my blog,, originally as a knitting blog. I started knitting 5 years ago to control anxiety. I dove head first into it and never looked back. Debbie Stoller found me through my blog and asked me to design a pattern for her book, Son of Stitch n Bitch. The "Ernie Sweater" was my first published pattern. I am also currently working on another pattern for another author.

I'd also love to open another Etsy shop selling items that I sew using thrifted/upcycled fabrics. I've been experimenting with scarves, pillows, totes and small bags. Hopefully, by Christmas, this new shop will be up and running!

Visit the Kitsch Cafe! Storefront @ Etsy :

& Drew's Fantastic Blogs @ &

Here's a few of my favorites from Kitsch Cafe:

Thanks again to Drew & Kitsch Cafe! Welcome to Etsy!

Fall Fashion Finds: Boots & More!

September means Fall is on the way! Summer is awesome but steamy in VA, after spending a long summer attempting to wear as little as possible - I'm ready for great jacket or maybe a rad pair of boots. Check out a few of my recent fab vintage boot finds!!!