During my college years, my tastes were changing so often that I experimented with style a lot, to the point where fast, cheap fashion was the focus of my shopping efforts. I think many of us go through this though, because we don’t really know better. We like cheap abundance during that time in our lives, rather than paying more for fewer, quality things. I shopped based on what I saw advertised or in shop windows (as long as I liked it of course), rather than hunting down unique designers online (which I usually couldn’t afford anyway). Nowadays, however, things have changed a lot, both in availability of unique pieces and knowledge of the value of searching them out. However, the only constant with my tastes then and now is that I never really liked heavily patterned items, and usually shopped items without patterns at all.
I always say, for every favorite jean there’s a favorite tee to go with it! I love collecting graphic tees almost as much as I love collecting denim. Another one of my favorite vendors I found at the Global Eclipse Gathering was Sacred Geometrix, a brand that features beautiful designs based on sacred geometry, on tees that are made from bamboo, organic cotton, and/or recycled materials. Since we spent a lot on this trip, I held back on spending any money at the vendor area (a huge accomplishment for me, but then again I did splurge at Lucidity Festival earlier this year). However, I had to get one of their tees: the ‘Manta Rays‘ tee in grey (seen below in black). Too freaking cute! Also cute, were handmade organic cotton crop tops with geometric prints (such as this one) that are great for yoga or festivals, but I’m focusing this post on the beautiful screen printed tees (and scarves) featuring totally unique designs that I found at this vendor’s tent.
OK, sorry again for my absence—I’m now back from long road trips and extensive work obligations for awhile…so now I can get back to posting on a decently regular basis again! Thanks for sticking with me. I still have so much from the Global Eclipse Gathering that I want to post, but I still have not yet had a chance to sort through everything I collected there that I intend to share with you all. All of this material will certainly last me awhile, so I like the idea of mixing in other brands that make me think of the nomadic, transformational festival environment (along with the usual denim and other notable things I run across) to draw it out as long as I can since really, eco-friendly and independent brands is part of the soul of my blog apart from denim. A little over a year ago, I posted about a new footwear line that a favorite sustainable retailer, Nomads Hemp Wear, was carrying. These shoes had been featured in photo shoots for the brand for quite some time, and after asking them where they were from, I was so happy to see them finally offer them for sale in their online store! A.S.98 is the name, handmade leather shoes and boots is their game—and I’ve been keeping my eyes on them ever since then.
If you live in the western states right now, I’m sure you can agree that this heat wave we’ve been having has been quite unbearable! I have to admit that I haven’t worn a pair of jeans in weeks. It’s very hard for me to wear loose, light fabrics as bottoms because I feel like I’m wearing almost nothing—jeans give me a feeling of security. However, especially after the Global Eclipse Gathering two weeks ago, I’ve grown more comfortable wearing lighter fabrics in the heat. Even at work! Discovering all of the amazing apparel vendors at the event was great timing for me, as I found myself shopping and building wish lists with all of them more than I have the usual denim brands I love. I’m usually like this after any festival, but feeling a new sense of comfort and freedom in the heat (and year-round) with some of these designs has made them leave more of an impact in the direction I want this blog to go. I’ll always love denim, but independent and sustainable designers are such a huge passion of mine! Plus, it’s nice to break out of the usual jeans and a tee shirt rut.
For most ladies it’s shoes. For me, obviously it’s jeans. However, I’ve started to see my focus sway a bit more into the shoes department again, especially ever since discovering the amazing rugged looking, vintage inspired collection by A.S.98 on various models at Nomad’s Hemp Wear. Although fast fashion still is alive and thriving, it seems there has been a slow but steady shift to more quality items as awareness grows and people start to understand how to take advantage of stretching the real value of the dollar. Handmade items tend to last longer, as they were most likely made with more love and attention to detail and quality. In addition, you can be sure to get that true, beautiful, well-worn, vintage appeal when things are made with the careful, creative touch of a true artisan.
Love it or hate it, the ’90s (and even a few more decades past) are back. Thanks in part to music festivals, now we’ve once again got bright colors, high waisted shorts and jeans, overalls, embroidery, culottes and more. I find it interesting watching fashion evolve; it seems to have gotten more minimal over the current modern years, with clean embellishmenet-free designs, toned down neutral shades and timeless pieces that probably won’t ever go out of style. That still exists, but styles that once were “out” always revolve around and come back “in,” and in they’ve come. I’ve heard many people verbally roll their eyes at this new trend, but I welcome it with open arms. The ’70s, ’80s and ’90s were about having a great time, and with the growth of music festivals combined again with a bit of political turmoil, these modern years seem to have taken that turn once again as more and more people just wanna have fun.
Just about everyone loves a nice, brand name handbag. I have a couple that I love (that I found cheaper and second hand on eBay of course), and I enjoy using them for special occasions or simply when the mood strikes. However, as much as I can appreciate nice things, I can’t help but always think of the little guys, the artisans, the ones with huge, blooming visions but smaller global reach or fewer resources. I love writing about the latter more than the former, and am always digging around for new ones to feature here to at least help make them a little better known. Fair trade goods are extremely important to me, and I regularly shop them as well! I believe i’s all about balance in life; enjoy the fruits of your labor…splurge here and there if you can, but don’t forget to support those who really need it.
As part of the music festival circuit, I’m always enamored by all the cute handmade hippie (I refuse to use the word “boho”) bags being carried around by some of the most creative people I’ve ever seen. I was just perusing around Amazon and discovered a whole slew of these, from a company called Tribe Azure. The company is basically a “global artisan movement,” which was born over 45 years ago by Bombdon Ngodup of India. She started her social entrepreneurship in the early 1960s in Northern India, which is a more rural area of the country. Ngodup came from an aristocratic Tibetan family that worked as day laborers in India, so she had a lot of experience working as a street vendor as a young girl. This all inspired her to work hard to create sustainable economic opportunities for artisans in developing countries of South and South East Asia. Tribe Azure is now a “global network of socially conscious entrepreneurs” which strive to create those opportunities. Tribe Azure connects people from communities and markets in developing countries where representation could be improved, and introduces it into the larger global retail markets. The brand would prefer to be seen as a way of empowerment rather than a charity, to help community transformation and eradicate poverty.
Summer is almost here, and these bags totally scream BEACH or POOL DAY, right? The best part is that these bags are not expensive at all, and affordable for just about everyone. The entire line ranges from $15 to $35 on Amazon, and I’m already eyeing a few! It’s so exciting to me to see such talent amongst all of the big names around the world…grab one of these beauties for yourself and help empower an artisan and their community.
“Tribe Azure seeks to change the world through creating person to person commerce from communities and markets where there is little to no representation and bringing it into the larger retail ecosystem.”
“Our vision is not to solicit charity, but one of empowering community transformation. Our goal is to eradicate poverty and transform communities through our unique innovative market based solution.”
“One artisan at a time. We aspire to create a vibrant ecosystem of unfiltered and authentic products from cultures around the world. Every product has a beautiful story to share.”
“Our long term vision is to connect artisans directly to consumers. We want to create a community where artisans from around the world can engage in open dialogue and communication with socially conscious consumers all over the world.”
“As of now, Tribe Azure is working on establishing a sustainable market for handmade products in North America through its retail partners and online web, and building long term buying relationships in places where skilled artisan partners lack opportunities for stable income. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.”
I just love perusing through Etsy sometimes, and looking at the favorite shops and items of my favorite sellers…you never know what new awesomeness you might find! It just blows my mind how some of these amazing brands don’t get the recognition they deserve, but that, as I’m sure you know, is one main point of my blog. Every year after feeling fresh and inspired by the open and limitless creativity behind Lucidity Festival (and the vendors, especially), I’m always digging even deeper into the nooks and crannies of the internet to find even more independent artists to feature here or inspire me into any possible future creative ventures. There is some ridiculously impressive stuff out there!
One of my most recent finds is Soul Path Shoes, a Canadian brand run by artisan Nathan deBridge Bowes, who specializes in custom moccasins and sandals. I mean, these pieces speak for themselves…just look at the detailing! Long ago, Nathan was inspired by searching far and wide for the perfect handmade artisan footwear that was unique, comfortable and natural, to no avail. So, he was inspired to venture on his own path into creating his own, and mirrors genuine ancient practices and pours a ton of love, patience and skill into his work. From sharpening and maintaining his his tools (like tuning an instrument, as he says) to taking the risk of tedious custom fitting, Nathan stays true to his strong beliefs on the real value of old fashioned hard work, quality and customer satisfaction which is becoming more of a rarity these days.
Nathan uses supersoft 8-9 ounce buffalo leather for the main body and trim of his footwear which is 2-3 times thicker than regular leather. He also implements a traditional moccasin full leather outer sole with a Vibram rubber sole as an option, and a removable insole of wool felt and orthotic cushioning on a leather base. Every item comes with your choice of buttons (with several beautiful metal pieces to choose from) and main color, trim and heel cap colors. Other options include additional arch support, extra trim layers, added piping, leather or Arbutus wood buttons, cuffs, other custom artwork, and so much more! How gorgeous are these?! For the amount of work and custom options put into these, I’d say they are also priced incredibly well, at around $300-$600 before any custom options are included. Honestly, I’d just buy what I see right off the virtual racks.
Here are some of the moccasins and boots that catch my eyes the most from Soul Path Shoes! As usual with most of these talented artisans I discover, it was tough to narrow it down.
“For years I searched for real artisan footwear. I knew what I was looking for: A handmade leather sandal, shoe, boot or moccasin that was unique, natural, and comfortable; classic leather footwear with timeless beauty and functional elegance. Where did I find it? I found the heart of the craft in the pride of craftsmen of days gone by, I found ideas in the functional designs of ancient civilizations… But no one I could find was making what I longed to find. Or at least not yet… It was then I knew I was on the right path, a path of discovery and creation, and a path with Soul.”
“I love the work I have chosen to do… It is a pleasure for me to work with beautiful, soft leather, and to feel a good tool in my hands as I connect with an ancient tradition of sandal, boot, and moccasin making. I love old, quality tools, and handmade tools and knives the most, as they ring with quality and carry the energy of the maker.”
“It is a skill to learn to sharpen a blade for the task at hand; akin to tuning an instrument – it cultivates patience and presence of mind, and good work may be produced only once the tool is finely honed, as good music will only be produced once the instrument is finely tuned.”
“Making good footwear is difficult, and a custom fitting is more demanding still. One need not wonder for long why this trade and these skills have nearly disappeared – it is hard work, and risky in this day and age. So I am taking the risk of doing what I believe in because I know the value of real quality, and in this modern desert where people are beginning to feel the thirst for quality, some of us are creating an oasis.”
Take a look into the beautiful artistry that makes up Soul Path Shoes.
Of all the charitable companies I enjoy writing about here, TOMS has got to be one of my favorites. Since their beginnings, they have been a big name bringing awareness about those less fortunate to the fashionable masses, and have set a model example for other companies with the same initiatives. Just about everyone is familiar with their One for One® campaign, where for every pair of shoes purchased, another pair will be sent to someone in need. Throughout the years, they have had other campaigns for fresh water in developing countries, to help shelter dogs find homes, to support endangered animal species, to give the gift of good eyesight, to promote safe birth for women in need, and so much more. I also love that they support artisans around the world! For their latest collection, TOMS has partnered up with a group of artists for their Haiti Artist Collective.
I love creative people. Etsy is one of my favorite websites because I just love perusing all the colorful passions people have in the form of art, clothing, jewelry…you name it! I used to love going out for big shopping trips, but honestly now, shopping brick and mortar shops gives me a little bit of anxiety. Shopping online is far more fun to me, one reason being I can put something aside and think about it without feeling pressured, but also because I can discover all of the independent, up-and-coming artists that better fit my tastes and definitely deserve more recognition! With all of the crap going around in the world today, it’s also theraputic to me to see the passions and talents of others shining through, and I much prefer supporting them over mass-produced goods. I also find it quite inspiring!