This month, Unique USA’s pop-up Market visited the California Market Center in DTLA’s fashion district for a two day showcase of what the best of LA’s independent designers and artists have to offer. The Market, first established in LA in 2008, is a giant temporary retail event promoting locally designed and curated fashion and art. Their mission? In the words of director Sonja Rasula:

My goals are to help designers and small businesses grow and become sustainable, to support the local economy, and to teach shoppers the value of conscious consumerism.

Sound familiar?

Below I detailed just a few of the highlights.

Vivian Chan – First on my list is the effortlessly elegant pieces of Vivian Chan’s fall and winter collection. Stop whatever you are doing right now, Google her name, and shield your keyboard from the drool. While she keeps her palette simple with classic shades of neutrals, she NAILS both structure and silhouette to no end. Both collections are a parade of sharp lines and billowing skirts - with the occasional strategically placed sheer panel or leather crop just when you thought you had her figured out. Vivian herself was at the booth looking like a walking lesson in modern day class and sporting her very own ‘Natalie’ skirt. Five stars, girl.
 

Fleet Collection – Next up is an unexpected favorite. I had done my research before the event, and overlooked Fleet as sort of one-note. Most of the collection consists of slight variations on a retro sundress, but where they really shine is in their small foray into 90’s plaids. The yellow and black ‘Aggie’ top caught my eye from across the room, as I’m a sucker for anything that looks like it might have come out of Cher Horowitz’ closet (Iggy and I have that in common). The look I’ve included on the right is another gem – now half-off on the site. From the cut to the go-to pattern of the grunge era, Winona herself would approve.

Amarilo – The jewelry booths at the Unique event were aplenty, but the delicate gold and silver pieces of the Amarilo collection were just my cup of tea. Very understated, as I tend to like my accessories, the rings still manage some edge, with their wiry shapes and stackability. Better yet, many of the pieces are made of gold fill or bronze, which I learned after informing the woman manning the booth that “I have a nickel allergy the likes of which you have never seen.” 

Cuero & Mor – Merchandise at the Cuero&Mar table was sparse, but understandably so, as they had one of the biggest standout pieces of the event. Ladies and gentleman, Cuero&Mor’s ‘Shopper Bag’ - available in both black and pale pink - is one of the most beautifully constructed hand bags I have seen maybe ever. Simply put, it kills. I admired it’s boxy magnificence for just long enough for the retailers to shift uncomfortably. The people in charge at Unique must agree, as the bag is currently featured on the landing page of their site.

Clark and Madison – For something a little less pristine, the leatherwear at the Clark and Madision booth was both impressively constructed and clearly durable. Their brief cases are made of quality leather and lined with 100% wool; the sort of bag Chuck Norris might carry his 13” Macbook in. My favorite piece, the ‘Dakota Weekender’ from the One of a Kind collection, is made from “a vintage gray and black patterned Native American rug, charcoal canvas lining, and black suede leather” Don’t you feel tougher just reading that? A bag like this is a lifer. One of a kind indeed.

All in all, the event was quite the success, and an enormous treat for venders and shoppers alike. Unique Markets are headed to both San Francisco and New York City in coming months, so keep an eye out at happy hunting!

By Connor Riley

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