For anyone who's interested in getting clothes and accessories that don't come from mainstream brands, here's one idea: upcycled woolen felt sweaters that have been transformed into scarves and gloves.
I've been interested in upcycling for a while, but it's only in the last few years that I've actually gone out and purchased upcycled goods. My favorite upcycled wares are scarves that are made from parts of woolen felt sweaters. While this is probably a great craft project for people who are good at sewing, I'd rather buy them because of the beautiful sweaters that are used to make these items.
This is basically the modern version of Japanese secret brands, which were recently featured in William Gibson's new book Zero History. These brands have a cult following and don't advertise at all. In order to buy some, someone needs to put you onto a mailing list. The clothes themselves are made to last.
My favorite scarves come from Kelley Deal. You have probably heard of her. She's the lead guitarist of The Breeders. Her twin sister, Kim Deal, is the lead singer. Kelley's wares, which are mainly scarves, but include purses, are very colorful and lively.
Each scarf is unique. Usually, a day after the scarves are posted on her site, they are all sold. This is one of the reasons why you should follow these types of creators via their Twitter or RSS feed. They will let their followers know when there are new items available. I made sure that I visited her site on Cyber Monday, as she had posted that there would be a last batch of scarves available before the end of the year.
A search run on Etsy finds quite a few different stores that have similar wares, but from what I saw, the Kelley Deal scarves are better. Giving someone you know a unique piece of clothing is always something special. Scarves and hats are good because they will fit a lot of people.
I love how this process puts money directly into the hands of the people who create stuff. Instead of popping into a store, you peruse wares from clothing makers from all over the world. You can find unique pieces of clothing and vintage clothes to really find interesting combinations.
[all photos by Kelley Deal]