Saturday, December 1, 2012

spendmas time is here again

by frédérik

It’s Spendmas, that time of year between Thanksgiving and the week or so before Christmas. You can tell it’s that special commercial time of year because Thanksgiving dinner hasn’t been digested before stores began pouring Christmas carols into the ears of shoppers already afflicted by premature ornamentation and attempts at tinsel-lation. Just last weekend in a local mall, one of Sandy Claws’ many doppelgangers was hauling the kids up onto his lap to hear their greedy little requests for stuff. ‘tis the season to spend, kids, and fair warning: I’m going to be grouchy until Spendmas ends and the genuine seasonal spirit of peace and goodwill makes a guest appearance.

Spendmas notwithstanding, however, as thoughts turn towards gifts for the family and friends we cherish, conscientious fashionistas might ask: where can I get some fashionable gifts that won’t throw my conscience into spasms?

If you happen to be in the LA area, the State of Unique will be holding its annual holiday event this weekend, December 1st and 2nd, at the California Market Center Penthouse between 11am and 6pm. Fashionoclast fave Sheswai Lacquer will be there, as well as some newcomers I'm looking forward to discovering in person:

I’ll be there tomorrow, maybe with Fez on. But if you don't live in LA (or other State of Unique cities) - and even if you do - there are are some wonderful alternatives.

Online, I’ve recently discovered SERRV, a non-profit organization dedicated to fair-trade and handmade products that help improve communities around the world. From Divine chocolate, coffee, and other yummy foods to dishware and lines, SERRV offers a wonderful selection of ethical and delightful products to choose from. For example:

Reversible Ikat shoulder bag made of cotton and vegan leather. $60. Produced by Mahaguthi, which supports artisans throughout Nepal.

Belted Nagita tunic made from natural cotton and block-printed by hand by Indian an fair-trade organization aiming to empower women in impoverished areas of Mumbai. $60

Charming Dove pin made from copper and brass, with an eye made from lapiz lazuli. $16. Made by Comparte, a non-profit that aims to help economical disadvantaged artisans in Chile.

I'm planning on doing some gift shopping here...

Another possibility: National Geographic’s NOVICA. Like SERRV, this organization strives to bridge the gap between the world and artisans from around the world. Their selection features larger scale items than SERRV, and includes area rugs, furniture, statuary, and musical instruments as well as jewelry, apparel, and so on. My wife and I bought a beautiful statue of Buddha from here. The craftsmanship on the part of Balinese sculptor Wayan Kandiyasa was excellent, and the experience of buying from NOVICA was a pleasure. A special touch: each product comes with an artisan’s story card so you can learn about the person who made it.

Cotton batik robe, 'Red Floral Kimono.' $67.99

“Leisure” cotton skirt hand-made by a Thai artisan. $34.95

“Thai Riches” cotton capri pants hand-made by a Thai artisan. $39.95

“Geodesic” silver cufflinks from, and Indian artisan pursuing her dream of design jewelry. $92.95

And there you go.

How about you? What cool, and conscientious, shops/designers have you discovered lately? I'd love to read about them in the comments below.

Note: Unique LA logo, SERRV logo and product images, and NOVICA logo and product images all belong to their respective copyright holders and are used here under fair use for illustrative purposes only. Images will, of course, be removed at the copyright owner's request.


Mica said...

Oh thanks for the links to serrv and novica. Will bookmark it for next year, as I've got all my pressies for everyone sorted :)

Have you had divine chocolate before? We don't have it in Australia but I got some free with an order from betterworld books - another good company with a conscience. And it was delicious!

Frederik Sisa said...

Glad you like the links, Mica. And how efficient you are to already have your pressies sorted out! I'm not nearly that organized.

I have had Divine chocolate before, and lucky for me it is relatively easy to get it here. It is delicious indeed. The only thing better than chocolate is chocolate that comes from a company that does good by people and the planet. :)

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