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.
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.
I’m sure you’ve all noticed that the gender-neutral, unisex thing has been spreading across the apparel world lately, and I say why not? Fashion, design and creativity have way too many possibilities to be confined within boxes! From H&M to denim brands to even Coach, brands are realizing consumer demands to not have their tastes limited to a specific category or be defined by a certain style. Personally, I feel this works best when it comes to modern, minimalistic designs, such as the dark, music-inspired Los Angeles brand Skingraft. I wrote about them about a year and a half ago and I’m still enjoying each of their newsletters that grace my inbox, watching (and coveting) every new collection they release!
Hello all! So I’m back from Lucidity Festival, and I gotta say it’s ridiculously tough to get back into the swing of things after that. I feel so refreshed, relaxed, and pretty inspired in a few other creative avenues I’ve been curious about exploring! One of which is apparel, thanks to all of the beautiful, unique, independent clothing vendors I shopped at the festival (right up my alley and a common subject on my blog). So, I think it’s only fitting I slowly rev back up my blog momentum with a post within that subject!
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!
By now you may have already realized that I’m more partial to the darker stuff…I like edge. I kind of hate pastels. That basically sums me up! However, I love unique and creative pieces, and most of that can be found in the realm of independent artists. Because of that, Etsy is a huge favorite shopping stop of mine. You might think Etsy is just full of items sold by everyday hobbyists (which I also support), but it’s far deeper than that. I own and wear several pieces I’ve gotten from Etsy, as there are several full blown (but still small) brands that use this platform to reach discerning fashionistas such as myself. I wrote about some of my favorites about two years ago on two separate posts (see them here and here). The search always continues, and I’ve just run across another one that I’m completely enamored with!
Bohemian Vintage Inspired Apparel by Doên
Sometimes I feel the bohemian trend is a little overblown by now, especially when Springtime and festival season rolls around. I usually tend to skip the shops that specialize in this look (because so many of them look the same to me) and opt for independent brands and Etsy shops that make clothing for Burning Man-style festivals (or everyday) instead, for pieces that are truly unique and made with love. ZhenNymph is one I wrote about a year ago, and another just popped up for me, from a Refinery29 article that calls them an adult version Free People. Doên indeed looks just like that, but better! These timeless pieces are definitely more of a modern, everyday and mature take on the bohemian trend, but that’s not all that makes this brand so special.
Like many of you out there, I love charitable causes…but I also understand how difficult it can be sometimes to actively contribute to charities while we all try to keep our heads above water in this big old rat race as it is. It’s been so great to see big brands doing their part by contributing a portion of sales to various charities, and making it easy for shoppers to get involved. The concept of “buy one, give one” is one of my favorites, like the One for One® campaign by TOMS, which provides a product to someone in need for each one purchased. I’m excited to say I discovered another brand that does something similar, with one extra (and awesome) bit!
Mitscoots Outfitters is an outdoorsy brand that produces socks, beanies, scarves and gloves (as well as logo tees) for men and women, but there’s something honorably different that sets every product apart. The brand was founded in 2012 after its founders were volunteering along the streets of Austin in 2008 and noticed that after food and water, the biggest requests from the homeless population were quality gear and a clean pair of socks. This inspiration led to the creation of a brand that not only works through local and national charities to send an equal quality item for every item sold to someone less fortunate (on your behalf), but also employs the transitioning homeless, through shelters and placement agencies, to package up and send your orders to you! Providing employment opportunities helps with increasing confidence, skill development, motivation, and network building. How great is that?! In addition, everything is made right here in America. Mitscoots calls this noble mission “Get + Give + Employ”.
While Mitscoots has the image of an adventurous, outdoorsy brand, their products are perfect for the commuter, the professional, lazy days or nights in or just anyone who enjoys the luxury of feeling both stylish and cozy. The additional good feeling of giving back is an awesome icing on the cake…but really it’s the foundation which made this company possible in the first place!
“While volunteering along the streets of Austin, Texas circa 2008, we discovered that right after food and water, there was no greater request among the less fortunate than for a clean pair of socks and some quality gear.”
“Mitscoots Women’s Socks are meant to stand out and be bold. They represent the heart of a girl who does more than just wear something that looks good, but chooses to wear something that means good.”
“So, for every item purchased, we give an equal quality item to someone in need and take pride in employing the transitioning homeless to get each and every style packaged up and ready to go.”
“Mitscoots Men’s Socks are meant to stand out and be bold. It’s time for fellas to step up their socks game, help others in need and go to bed having done something awesome.”
“Mitscoots makes GEAR with a Mission: Get + Give + Employ”
Mitscoots Outfitters is also running a Kickstarter campaign to launch a collection of men’s and women’s hats. “The Cause Cap” will work the same way the brand’s existing products do and are guaranteed for 5 years!
Read more about Mitscoots Outfitters and shop their huge collection of stylish, comfy products here.
View and support The Cause Cap campaign on Kickstarter here.
New Artist Scarves by Sociale Revolution
There is so much insane talent out there in both the apparel and art worlds (even though fashion basically IS art), and I love watching the two fuse together in such a way to get more beautiful pieces out there in the hands of new fans. It definitely helps when artwork is wearable! Sociale Revolution is a brand that has been up front and center in being a catalyst for this movement to happen, and they are one of those companies that I’ve had such a pleasure to work with and watch grow. If you’re new to my blog, Sociale Revolution is a Californian collective aimed at making art more accessible by encouraging its use for social debate, while helping artists gain exposure and giving back to their cultural roots. They began as a Kickstarter back in 2014 and they continue to add amazing artists to their roster, helping them them expand their influence beyond the canvas and onto premium apparel that is crafted and designed with the utmost eye for detail and quality. What sets Sociale Revolution apart from other art-to-clothing companies, however, is that they aren’t just a vehicle for artists, but also their very own fashion label that forms unique bonds with the artists they bring on board.