January’s Best Off-The-Radar Fashion Finds

Happy New Year, darlings! This is the second in our “Off-The-Radar” fashion series … and with the new year, may new levels of hipster-dom be attained.

Okay, I’m half joking. I’m not suggesting we should all go full “Portlandia” in 2015. But I am suggesting we dig a little deeper for our wardrobes and make-up bags this year. I mean, we all want to improve ourselves with the dawn of a crisp new calendar … #newyearnewyou, right?! And maybe it’s not as easy as penning a few half-assed resolutions and magically sticking to them. But one small resolution we can all make is to make a point of purchasing from small, independent labels and boutiques more often. Not only are we helping fund someone’s small business, but we can use it as an opportunity to cut down our carbon footprints by purchasing clothes made from reworked fabrics, or that follow a specific code of sustainability. It might not be as easy as saving the planet one Paypal transaction at a time … but every little bit helps.

And, while you’re at it, why not make this year your most stylish year yet? Let us not forget the appeal of uniqueness. Make this the year to find things that your friends don’t have, the year you’ll wear clothes that provide a talking point, that have their own story, the year you’ll be asked, “Where did you get that?”

So, here at LD we’ve taken it upon ourselves to bring you our favorite off-the-radar fashion and beauty finds from deep, dark corners of the Internet, all from independent boutiques, eco-friendly labels and anything that isn’t to be found in your typical mall. While “fast fashion” chains still dominate the style industry, hand-crafted, responsible labels are being born every day, and it’s up to us—the consumers—to nurture this fragile section of the fashion industry. Our hope is to inspire your love of finding unique, within-budget style picks, and give exposure to some of our favorite small businesses. Happy shopping!

Litographs Tote

Fellow English majors and book nerds, rejoice! Litographs makes tote bags, tees, temporary tattoos and posters that feature designs that have been sculpted out of the text from your favorite essays, poems, stories and plays. From Shakespeare to Shelley, Darwin to Dostoyevsky, the collection is growing bigger all the time. From a distance, the artwork illustrates a theme, character, or setting from each piece; move closer and the text becomes fully legible. You can also alter the colors of various designs, and for wearables there’s an option for a more flattering women’s fit, too. Pure genius.

Fail Jewelry

If Picasso designed jewelry, this is exactly what he’d create. I can’t recall how I stumbled across Fail Jewelry, but I’m incredibly glad I did. Each piece is delicately handcrafted by Christine Fail in her studio in Austin, TX. There’s a very rustic elegance about the combination of hammered metal, fine chains and splashes of muted color; Fail Jewelry’s striking aesthetic is at once totally wearable and utterly unique. My favorite is the deco collar necklace: modern and chic, it’d be the perfect finish to any outfit, from simple jeans and a tee to a classic shift-dress-and-heels combo for a night on the town. If you’ve got a special gift to buy, or a bit of extra cash to splurge in the “Treat Yo’self” fund, don’t fail (ahem) to check out this site.

Pavit Sidhu Puri Scarf

As I’ve said before, I’m obsessed with scarves. Obsessed. I stumbled across Pavit Sidhu Puri and I’m obsessed with her designs, too. Her small business in Punjab creates accessories from a traditional craft form called Phulkari; she says, “My aim is to mix traditional with modern and give opportunity to the women who earn their livelihood through this craft only.” These beautiful items are fully hand-crafted by artisans who need direct support from buyers—and, of course, they are gorgeous, multi-functioning pieces that will provide a unique talking point for your outfit. Everyone wins.

 Twisted Aristocrat Necklace

Yes, a leather necklace. And what a perfect statement piece! Twisted Aristocrat is an up-and-coming small leather goods company that launched in the fall of 2012 by Ashton Hodges and Brykyta Shelton offering handmade pieces that blend practicality with urban inspired design. Give a winter twist to your summer dresses: add a Twisted Aristocrat necklace, tights and boots, and all of a sudden you’ve got a fab cold-weather outfit. The cute little leather tassels also make a perfect multi-tasking accessory: a key chain, zipper pull, or a belt loop.

Designer Spotlight: HARARE

Perhaps a little out of the typical twenty-something’s price range, I couldn’t not feature HARARE once I’d laid eyes on the beautiful designs (and ethos) of this NYC-based brand. Designed by Caroline Fuss, HARARE was named for the Zimbabwean birthplace of her mother and grandmother, and is a celebration of slow-made, hand-crafted, beautiful clothes. The aesthetic is at once contemporary—sleek, modern and bright—blended with more traditional craft techniques, giving each piece a distinctly bohemian vibe. I was particularly taken with the Fall/Winter 2014 collection: chic cocktail dresses, elegantly ruffled knits and playful prints in a blend of muted neutrals, jewel tones and occasional pops of orange, blue, and ochre. Inspired by the beautiful fabrics on a trip to Guatemala in 2011, Fuss created a fashion line that blossoms from the foundation of high-quality, hand-made Guatemalan textiles, which are then sewn and knit into garments in New York or LA. As the brand’s own website says: “We know that it is the human hand, not the machine, that has the power to imbue fashion with soul.” Amen to that.

Do you have any favorite small fashion businesses? Let us know: tweet us @litdarling!


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