Every year I help out a family friend with his booth at the International Gift Fair. If you’ve never been, the NYIGF is a giant trade show in the Javitz Center filled with all manner of “gifts.” (Read: Junk you never knew you wanted.) It’s a lot of unnecessary and silly crap, with the occasional gem. Middle aged women who own gift shops in little tourist towns stalk their prey, looking for totally purposeless gifts with which to fill their New Jersey and Connecticut vanity stores.
Fortunately for my sanity, the booth I work is located in the handmade and global section, so there is a lot of fair trade and conscious items in there. I took a half hour to dart around and see what pretty things could be found.
Last year when I did this, I didn’t see much–just the typical beaded and carved items, drums, and accessories made out of soda can rings. But suddenly, this year there was an explosion of beautiful items I couldn’t wait to make mine. Here are my favorites, and where to find them in New York and online:
Oh, wait. First kick this track in to listen to while you peruse:
Mercado Global is a nonprofit that pairs with Guatemalan mothers to provide employment. Now, there are a lot of nonprofits that provide employment to South American women, but what makes this nonprofit stand out is that I want their stuff.
Our exclusive products combine exceptional Mayan craftsmanship with modern design.
Normally that would be a platitude, but their stuff really does look right at home in an Apartment Therapy post.
I actually recognized the pillow–I wanted to buy it for my apartment this summer when I was in ABC Carpet & Home, but it was a little bit out of my price range.
The Lydia earrings are gold plated and hammered and have hammered vermeil nuggets. You can find them on their website. The pillow is fabric and brocade, hand-woven on floor looms using traditional weaving techniques that have been passed on through generations. Find it at Pan American Phoenix at 857 Lexington Avenue on the UES, and it will be back up on the Mercado website at the end of March.
La Casa Guatemala
La Casa is a supplier right out of Guatemala that provides handmade, artisan goods. I fell in love with these ikat backpacks, which just beg to be slung over one shoulder for a day at the farmers market. I also love this briefcase, which would be handsome on a dapper gentleman or a fashion-forward lady.
These items are made from hides processed minimally by the artisans themselves. The hides frequently have scars and discolorations and occasionally branding marks, betraying their provenance of not huge farms and industrialized tanneries but village slaughterhouses in the region the artisans inhabit. No two packs or briefcases will ever be identical, and since no dyes are used on the hides–only oil–they will oxidize and darken with age. Yummy.
La Casa does not have an online shop, but you can find these backpacks and briefcase at:
Pan American Phoenix at 857 Lexington Avenue on the UES
Loopy Mango at 78 Grand Street in Soho
Native Leather, at 203 Bleecker Street in the East Village
The Bobo Kid
Peep these neon purses (“mochillas”), handmade couture skirts and colorful hand-loomed hammocks! This style of neon, handwoven purse has become quite popular, and The Bobo Kid offers them in a range of sizes, from a discreet size for a night out, to one that will hold everything you need for a day trip.
The skirts, made of cotton, linen, silk, lace and velvet, are handmade to order, so yes, you will pay accordingly. (“Price upon request”) I just love they way she matched it with a blue oxford in the picture above–simply perfect.
Now I’m just trying to decide of I can get a multicolor hammock from La Guajira region that is crafted over four months for my apartment, instead of an air mattress for guests. Thoughts?
Currently no NYC stores sell this merchandise, but if you truly love it, give Fernando a call at 305-281-1961 and tell him I sent you!
I’m sure you’ve seen ikat around this season. Just … avoid Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, OK? Instead go for the real thing, from Cambodia.
You couldn’t do any better than Push Pull Cambodia, which seeks to stimulate a renaissance of Cambodian Ikat. Their weaving center in Takeo Province employs approximately 46 artisans who specialize in different phases of Ikat. Each phase–tying, dyeing, spinning, and weaving–is done by hand, according to traditional Khmer methods, passed down verbally from generation to generation.
And their bags and pillows are just the right amount of preppy and cool. They aren’t currently sold in any NYC stores, but you can shop right online in the Push Pull store.