We’re seeing suede boots right and left, and they may be just fine for LA, but anyone who lives in a wet climate knows that suede boots are a no-go for winter. The same thing goes for that expensive calfskin bag. Can it take a drenching? Lucky for you, there are great options for accessories that are built for wet and cold winters. Sure, you can go to Target and buy some Isaac Mizrahi rain boots, but we’ll focus on the independent designers who handcraft their goods one-by-one in the good old US of A.
An arc-load of wet-weather-friendly accessories are designed and made in the Pacific Northwest and sold all over the world. It doesn’t rain more in Portland and Seattle than in the rest of the country, but they both rank in the top ten US cities for cloud days per year. Snap is run out of Portland, Defunct was Portland-based and now is based in San Francisco and Queen Bee Creations (from Olympia) is Portland’s indie juggernaut. The anomaly, Sundae Best, is out of Sheboygan, WI.
All make hip, smart bags out of vinyl. And unlike the knock-offs of designer bags, in which vinyl is called “pleather” and aims to look as much like leather as possible, these bags are unabashedly vinyl.
Queen Bee Creation’s Rebecca Pearcy earned her crown, selling first her 45 RPM handbags and vinyl messenger bags with seatbelt straps to eager scenesters in the ’90s. Her messengers (called “Truckers”) are still everywhere because they’re so darn practical with two under-the-flap pockets and two new side pockets for cells. Her cute and funky motifs have evolved from the early stars and embedded “Wonder Woman” comics to birds and cherry blossoms. The wood-handled droplet handbag here transcends its vinylness. Queen Bee bags are available in boutiques all over the world and online here: http://www.buyolympia.com/queenbee.
Defunct baggage takes the award for the most exuberant use of vinyl. The downtown wonder of the Circus Clutch is proof. And defunct’s Dallas bag is the retro stewardess fantasy. That shape! Find all of defunct’s work here http://www.defunctbaggage.com/see.html.
SNAP’s Michelle Kline says on her website that every SNAP bag is unique with an everchanging menu of vinyl colors (sometimes vintage) and thread colors. The Wind shoulder bag has a hopeful, light-at-the-end-of-the-winter-tunnel feel, plus flap and zipper to keep your necessaries safe through the cold and wet. See the whole line at http://www.snapcatalog.com.
James Piatt’s Peacekeeper is the heavy-hitter. This little evening bag features a rubbery replica of brass knuckles (apparently one cannot ship real brass knuckles over state lines). But the way the handle’s attached means that you can replace it with the real thing when you get it home. See all the Sundae Best colorways at http://www.jamespiatt.com/sundaebest.html.
What to do now that your delicate summer jewelry is buried under keep-me-warm sweaters? Not to fear. There are a number of independent designers who’ve found ways to keep you warm and fabulous throughout the winter months. Here are some of the more extraordinary things we’ve found, ranging from the cheeky to over-the-top to cool.
Straight out of the gate, our favorite hand-knit take on the necessary winter scarf is Anna Kula’s play on the oversized link chain necklace knit from a chunky wool. Her Chain Mail Scarf comes in three colors and will be your statement piece til spring. And you can keep your head warm in her Mod Top hat. It’s not a top hat, but a heavy hand-knit take on a mod shape. Find Anna Kula’s work online at Girlshop. http://www.girlshop.com/shop/girls/ak/anna_kula.asp.
For witty fun, Lulette’s scarves can be ordered with messages like “Let them eat cake,” (the “Marie”) or “Cogito Ergo Sum.” Less heady slogans include “Death Before Disco” for the spoilers in the house. Best of all, you can have a custom scarf with a (short) phrase of your choosing knit right in! And all Lulette Scarves all handmade in the Midwest by home knitters. http://www.lulette.com.
The fox fur collars and scarves from Chicago-based Dana Gaskill’s line Fury are going on my Christmas list. Her knitted Fox Fur Scarf is an oddly enticing mix of handknit and fur that comes in brights and black. And while we’d completely written off legwarmers, (unless you’re Jennifer Beals) the fall combo of skinny-leg pants and these amazing Long Fox Legwarmers made us change our tune. See all of Fury’s amazing wares at Girlshop http://www.girlshop.com/shop/girls/ff/fury.asp.
This Smith & Hone Capelet can be thrown over anything for texture and a fashionably warm neck. It’s a great alternative to a long scarf with its high cowl neck. Smith & Hone are two British girls living in Brooklyn and making great accessories available at Virgin Threads http://store.virginthreads.com/smithhone.html.