Monday, 20 January 2014


Marketing campaigns drowned inboxes over the holiday season; it was a smorgasbord of sales, wish lists, gift-giving essentials and top holiday presents under $/£100.  As a fashion maven, I can't claim total disinterest when well-curated lists of goodies came rolling in, but this year I asked myself what I could do to buy local, reduce my yuletide carbon footprint and invest in quality for the ones I love.  Some of my top gift ideas for 2013 included:

1.  A Spotify premium account - the gift of limitless song and dance, with no shipping required.
2.  A Kinfolk magazine subscription - it's beautiful, inspired and inspiring.  Plus it drags your recipient away from backlit screens.
3.  Used copies of my favourite novels, picked up at local charity shops.
4.  An all expense paid perusal of, where the recipient chooses how to spend their charitable amount.  A gift that keeps giving and giving and giving.
5.  A local CSA membership and/or urban garden plot - supporting local farmers/gardeners and eating fresh veggies makes everyone happy.  Even more satisfying to grow some yourself!

Fashion however, was trickier.   I wanted items produced within the USA (or Europe for my darling British halves), produced sustainably both in responsible material sourcing and in textile production techniques, produced at a fair wage for the workers who manufactured the garments, and items that were sold at a reasonable price point.  Phew.

Oh, and pretty.  And well-made.  And long-lasting.

My normal go-to is buys from any local vintage nook or charity treasure trove; if I'm scouring the interwebs.  Fashion gifts that focus on reuse and recycling.  On history and storytelling.  On quality and pleasure.  But alas, what if someone on your list isn't jonesing for a Pendleton wool shirt that 20 strangers have kept warm in before them?  If said person is genuinely deserving of a gift... ;)

Enter: Jungmaven, Base Range and Mollusk.
All of these alternative businesses have made environmental ideals and local production part of their mission statement, and all of them produce beautiful quality garments.

Jungmaven's aim is to get everyone in a hemp t-shirt by 2020.  A pretty sweet goal, as hemp is a carbon-negative, dense growing crop AND a durable fabric that will last you years longer than any cotton throwaway tee you pick up for a fiver.  Best selling point?   These tees are impossibly soooooooooft...

Base Range [Basic Aesthetic for Sustainable Easywear]
Based in Portugal, this environmentally-councious brand sources all of their materials from organic farms across the continent and produces them in small, family-run factories near their main office.  Their philosophy, "To create simple, accessible garments that exist somewhere between modern culture and the natural world".  Simple, organic, stunning and forever wearable? I'm hooked.

Founded on the unruly shores of San Francisco's Ocean Beach (and L.A.'s Venice Beach), Mollusk is a haven for surfers that sells clothing made in nearby Oakland from US-sourced materials.  Even better, it serves as a community space for visual artists, musicians, woodworkers and other local craftspeople whose products are all made or inspired by friends and neighbors, united in their task of capturing the beach bum way of life and spirit of the sea.


(Honorable mention goes out to A Peace Treaty with its breathtaking scarves and jewelry made by artisans in conflict zones and Free People's Maheya line, which is hand-crafted using all natural dying techniques and ethically sourced materials.  Shop imports that make a difference!)

- xx

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