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Soon to Be Famous: Thread LA Indie Shopping Event

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Touted as a curated event featuring indie designers, Thread LA returned to the city last weekend to its temporary home in the Bay Salone, an enormous warehouse hidden amidst trucks, industrial buildings, and hipster restaurants that populate the outskirts of downtown. For $5, shoppers could explore the cavernous space while listening to DJs, sip gratis cocktails and coconut water, get manicures from Dipped Nail Salon, and participate in eco-happy activities like a clothing swap and DIY workshops. The idea was to offer an alternative to a mind-numbing, Xmas-caroled department store, with designers selling all sorts of stuff for all kinds of people.

This was a true warehouse sale with an airy, concrete-floored space to encourage meandering, and discounts on just about everything. We were excited walking in. Taken as a whole, the merchandise was hit-and-miss. And yet - the handful of hits was pretty inspiring, and we found a few unusual presents to cross off our Chrismukkah list. Many of the vendors are young, relatively unknown SoCal designers, and it was fun to get to know their products from the source.

So what did we love? Tyler and Michelle Madsen of LOVE NAIL TREE set up a true pop-up shop in their own freestanding wood structure, selling clever printed tees inspired by prose and image. The organic tees (supplied by L.A.-based Groceries) were incredibly soft to the touch, with a purposefully vintage screen-printed look - but what made us fans was the special secret message printed on the interior neckline, different for each style. Found-object necklaces made with timepieces, keys and coins were a nice complement, and the little shop had gentle prices ranging from $20 (tees) to $40 (watch pendants).

The rich mustard, emerald and crimson suedes of Johnny Famous Shoes were gorgeous, so we bought a red pair for our brother for a mere $48, more than half off retail. JFS is a new line sold mainly in NY, though it manufactures its shoes in Mexico. They make a fine looking product that nods to those kinds of gents who like to wear loafers but prefer the comfort of a sneaker, and comes in a beautiful wooden box and velvet bag for safekeeping. Around the corner we picked up JasonMarkk Premium Sneaker Solution, and spoke with sneaker connoisseur Jason Angsuvarn, who launched the luxe brand after stumbling across a foolproof method for removing scuffs from his precious kicks. (The stuff cleaned up our beige suede booties real nice.)

Liza Domingo of TurtleScarf makes boldly colored hooded-dickie-scarf winter warmers that seem absurd, but then we put one on, and the cotton was so soft, and we imagined it would be darn perfect for blustery nights. Other notables included the French jewelry line Brin D'Amour, distributed by LA-based Loulou Bijoux, which makes perfectly understated jewelry with tongue-in-cheek designs featuring biscuits, nuts and bolts, or florals strung on wire and cord - perfect gifts for sweet friends. Lavuk, one of many eco-friendly firms, showed a standout overwashed charcoal grey knit blazer. Cute, organic kids' clothes from Twirls and Twigs, plus jewelry by Tiffany Kunz, who sources reclaimed metals for her handmade, well-designed pieces, sat amidst a bevy of miniboutiques from L.A. vintage sellers and statement jewelry designers. Almost all the vendors we talked to are based in SoCal, and many manufacture their goods in California but for a handful who happen to work ethically with communities abroad. Thread LA, we love your concept, and hope you come back next year to show us more real talent from SoCal's burgeoning art and design scene.
· Thread [Official Site]