Unique LA’s Local Love Event

LA shows the love for local designers, artists and makers of food.

This past weekend, local makers of food, fashion and art gathered at The California Market Center in LA for Unique LA’s Local Love event — the largest independent design show in the country. As a relatively new East Coast transplant, I welcomed the opportunity to meet and mingle with designers and makers on my new home-turf. The products at the show were all made in the U.S., so all the dollars spent during the weekend went straight towards stimulating LA’s design economy.

There was plenty of love-themed merchandise on display, perhaps because this was the perfect opportunity to buy a last-minute Valentine’s gift. We particularly liked the LA Love tees by MNKR and the sweet linen heart coin purses by Yellow Wallpaper.

Of course there were lots of cute tees and onesies for the little ones, emblazoned with everything from squirrels, whales and hearts, like at Jasper Wren, to LA-centric statements like the “I live and cry in LA” onesie from Kira.

The first thing that caught my eye when I entered the space (perhaps because it was right by the entrance door) was a tipi, surrounded by pillows, towels, book ends and coasters adorned with lovely graphic prints, all handmade in LA by Wolfum.

My nose directed me to my next favorite — coconut wax candles by Queen Bee’s Hive, scented with spa-grade essential oils. Topanga Candle Company uses vintage vessels such as tins, food containers and film canisters to hand pour the wax into, a creative way to give these objects a new life. You can even bring in your own vessel and they will make it into a candle for you.

Another company that creatively reuses our old stuff is My T-shirt Pillow who, as the name suggests, takes old tees and makes them into cozy pillows. I also loved the recycled cashmere scarves, made from thrifted sweaters, by Creature Cashmere and Stella Neptune.

There was a ton of great jewelry on display — some of my favorite were an action-provoking necklace in black letters by MNKR, a poetic banner necklace with butterflies by Fruition, message necklaces by Solstice LTD, recycled metal pieces by Tiffany Kunz, bold color and ceramic pieces by Kyyote, and pendant necklaces by Love Nail Tree (that camera is for all you bloggers out there).

For the boys — and the girls who steal their clothing — there were bow ties in all sorts of colors and materials by Pocket Square Clothing and wood eyewear by Sire’s Crown. And a new favorite, Hepp’s White Truffle Salt is something I can’t live without.

I was thrilled to see the kind of creativity and high level of design that comes out of Los Angeles. Shopping locally means that you are directly supporting this industry of small-scale designers. They are often the ones who push the envelope and give us the unexpected. That is something we need to cherish and of course, show the love to.

Johanna Björk

Johanna is a sustainable fashion writer currently based in Ojai, CA. Read her weekly On Trend column to learn what's new in eco fashion.