L.A. the Blog: Part 2, Unique L.A. and the Story of the Custom Shirt

With a post name like “the Story of the Custom Shirt” readers must be dying for the story (does anyone read this?).  Anyway, the whole story about Unique L.A. is that there were more custom t-shirts than any other item.

I Love NY in LA

The not-so-custom I Love NY t-shirt

The event even displayed the not-so-custom I ❤ NY shirt, that makes no sense for LA and I really hope wasn’t selling for very much.  I believe you can get them on the street in NY for pretty cheap, or online for even cheaper.  Again, there were handbags, some real nice artisan hats, fancy gift cards, but most booths that catered to men really went after the “art shirt.”  The only joy found in this fact manifested with $5 custom “art shirt” for sale by the Los Angeles-based company Sub_Urban Riot (get it Suburban, sub-urban).  Finally in this sea of expensiveness (yes everything at the event was pricey) a deal screamed out “buy!”

Sub_Urban Riot

The now infamous $5 t-shirt from Sub_Urban Riot

What a popular idea that works, sell stuff cheap.  Marketplace by American Public Media keeps proclaiming that the 2010 holiday season is the year of the shopper bargain.  Not from any generosity on the part of retailers, but because that is what shoppers want this year and to sell you have to deliver.

Sub_Urban delivered.  With their website claiming that they use organic cotton, and the booth attendant nervously explaining that all of their t-shirts have the Made in USA (if not Made in L.A.) label, $5 truly is a steal.  His nervousness makes me nervous about the claim though (maybe they are ripping off American Apparel??).  With a good quality shirt the t’s make a great gift!

Detroit Sprinkles booth

More t-shirts, this time by Detroit Sprinkles

Too many t-shirts!  Of note, the custom shirts by Detroit Sprinkles captured a dying era and look pretty cool.  The owners make the shirts in their Venice Beach garage and sell them on Abbott Kinney (of course), among other places.  They are Detroit transplants.  What does the Statue of Liberty say, “Give me your tired, your poor …”

T-shirts

More T-shirts damn it!

Leaving the t-shirt behind the next beautiful shinning star of the event upcycles (we just learned this word) fabulous gifts out of recyclable and non-recyclable trash.  At first it sounds gross, but in actuality the stuff was creative and fresh.  For example, old NYC subway metro cards that became the cover for creative address books.  The address book pages were created from junk mail / direct mailers, using the already printed fields for your name, etc.

NYC Metro Card Address Book, Inside Page

Make Shop Live's NYC Metro Card address book made out of junk mailers and old metro cards

Make Shop Live created a use for the most hated thing in L.A. the Blogs mailbox (maybe I can get my junk mail sent to them?).  Other great creations include Tecate beer can Christmas tree decorations in the form of reindeer; and multi-level ashtrays made from old vinyl, though the owners of the booth claimed the ashtrays were jewelry trays, ha!  They sold desk organizers re-purposed form old cardboard.

MakeShopLive

Desk organizer from Make Shop Live, everyone needs one!

Trash bins also made from the same type of cardboard laminating, and other neat stuff (see pics below).  L.A. the Blog gives a big thumbs up to Make Shop Live, and appreciates them teaching our publication about upcycling.

Now let’s get to everyone’s favorite site Look at this fucking hipster and get into just how un-hipster Unique L.A. turned out.  The event shoppers themselves were a real let down.  Of the few definite hipsters around, the camera phone that snapped all our pictures doesn’t do moving targets very well so few of these gems in the crowd got snapped up.  The most eye-catching trend pointed towards decorated lace sweater wear in natural colors with art-deco flavor patters.

Hipster blue hair

Fascinating trend that is eye-catching.

Other than that just your everyday person cruising the myriad maze of funky indie fashion and trends.  The story ends with a packed elevator down to the street level, goodbye penthouse on the 13th floor and goodbye Unique L.A.  If you look at the pics below you can see some of the favorite stuff that made up the day.  Oh and on the way out the DJ, she posed for a pic, pretended to scratch records.  We love you DJ lady!!!!

We love you DJ!!

We love you DJ!!

Cool hat

Cool hat

Metro Card Address Book Cover

Metro card address book cover by Make Shop Live

Artist Drawing

Street artist leaving his mark on some sellable canvas

Hipster couple

The one hipster couple that stood still long enough to photograph

Hipster hat seller

Hipster hat seller rocking the plaid

Stella Neptune

Stella Neptune printed designs on sweaters

Handmade Store On A Bike Cards

Cards by Handmade Store On A Bike

Hipster Patches

Hipster patches by Handmade Store On A Bike

Make Shop Live Reindeer

Make Shop Live reindeer christmas ornaments

Make Shop Live multi-teared ashtrays

Make Shop Live multi-tiered ashtrays

Feather headwear by Bedford Falls

Feather headwear by Bedford Falls

Handmade Store On A Bike

Handmade Store On A Bike, in case you thought I was lying

L.A. the Blog: Unique L.A. and the Story of the Custom Shirt

Unique L.A. is back!  Yes, the third annual holiday shop-a-thon of everything that comes from independent designers.  Perhaps its handmade in a persons garage; sold from a roaming bike store; and/or made from recycled goods (think junk mail from some established store like Macy’s).  It has everything Do-It-Yourself and indie, well almost everything that is!

Unique L.A. - California Market Center

Shoppers stood under the Christmas tree that decorates the halls of the California Market Center as they waited for the 3rd Annual Unique L.A. design showcase.

Unique L.A., held on Dec. 11th and 12th, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., takes over the top floor of the California Market Center (CMC) that sits in the heart of downtown Los Angeles’ fashion district. L.A. the Blog managed to catch the first half-day of action.

Like all good fashion crowds they studiously showed up for the bonanza well before the elevators opened forming a solid line of around 200 people.  It costs $10 just to get into the event, perhaps $6 to $10 for parking, so plan on at least spending $20, especially if you want something to drink while at the show.  Luckily at it’s up 13 floors so you at least get a nice view for the money.  Yes the infamous 13th floor, and no the CMC didn’t skip the number.

826LA Unique L.A. Booth

826LA setup shop at Unique L.A. selling books, posters, time travel stuff, etc ...

It’s notable that 10 percent of the door proceeds went to 826LA, a nonprofit the event sponsored.  My favorite item at the 826LA booth, the All My Friends Are Dead illustrated book by Avery Monsen and Jory John (also available on Amazon and truly funny!).  826LA offers tutoring and creative writing workshops after schools let out for those young, vivacious maniacs howling through the streets (yes I evoked Ginsberg).

Let’s get to the point.  The most striking thing about the show:  too many shirts and not a hint of pants.  You would think that people only wear tops and walk around naked from the waist down.  Detroit Sprinkles Cassette DesignIt offered sweaters, hats, t-shirts, gloves, hoodies (like those cool Detroit ones), pins for your hoodies, neat feather headwear, but not one good pair of jeans.  Or at least not easily found jeans (did anyone sell pants there?).  Wait, there was a sock booth where you could buy socks, and headdresses.

T-shirts at Unique L.A.

T-shirt designs on display at Unique L.A.

The second foible to my perfect day, the price.  As an independent design showcase with many of the items handmade, t-shirts printed by hand, original artwork hand painted, the asking price stood a little higher than the $5 to $10 dollar shirts that you can find just outside the event everyday on the street.

The quality however and the unique feel of everything, the chance to wear a one-off shirt screams at the fashion diva in as all.  IntelligentsiaHell though even the food was expensive.  Coffee cost $4.  Enough said.  Roasted in SoCal, and sold at the newest coffee shop fad in L.A. – Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea – it even wears the mantle indie D.I.Y.   The coffee isn’t even Fair Trade, it’s better. Direct Trade.

Highlights of the show:  the hunt for something affordable, or also known as the best bargain in the show.  The live DJ.  A shop that sold items from recycled garbage.  Of course let’s not forget the hip people cruising around.  While not everyone came decked out in fashion forward mode, there was some jewels of creativity within the shoppers.  Stay tuned for updates!!!

Stuffed cat

Yes, this cat was once alive! It adorned a jewelry display and I can't tell you how much cuter it would be if it was still alive : (

L.A. The Blog: A Look at the Los Angeles Derby Dolls

It was a dark and stormy night, wait … that’s a lie.  It was like any other winter night in Los Angeles – bicyclists taking to the streets in large groups, indie bands playing behind thrift stores, a mass brawl and stabbing at a USC vs. UCLA football game.

Nothing out of the ordinary except the 2010 LOS ANGELES DERBY DOLL CHAMPIONSHIP!!!

L.A. Derby Dolls Logo

If you see this famous skull and crossbones then you know you are in L.A. Derby Doll territory.

Yes, that’s right Saturday, December 4, saw the showdown that brought the Southern California Derby Dolls together under one roof as the Los Angeles Tough Cookies took on the San Diego Swarm for bragging rights as to who gets the title of the best girls on skates.

As roller derby goes the all-female (hence the name) Los Angeles Derby Dolls skate on a banked track.  This makes the action more exciting as the speed, the falls and the wins seem ever so much sweeter.  It also makes the Derby Dolls one of the few leagues in the Unites States that skate on such a track.  Wikipedia even claims that in the United States there are only five other such leagues.

The Tough Cookies skating on the banked track.

The L.A. Tough Cookies skate around the banked track to warm up for the second half.

I want to make a disclaimer here for while there are other “Derby Doll” leagues in this wonderful and wide world, I have maybe preemptively named the Los Angeles Derby Dolls (LADD) part of the Southern California Derby Dolls (a nonexistent league) that would be composed of the San Diego Derby Dolls (SDDD) with the LADD, and the soon to be Orange County Derby Dolls (OCDD).  Notice the last acronym is close to OCD, which this whole paragraph might be considered.

To end the suspense, the Tough Cookies put down the Swarm with a stunning 148 to 106 victory.  Now this was my first roller derby, but I follow basketball and when you win by 40 points, especially in a championship game that means you dominated the other team.

The Tough Cookies obviously had the home-track advantage as last years champions.  They also won in 2008.  So when they got a lucky break in the first half with a heavily penalized San Diego team loosing players to the gruesome death-squad referees (is that their name?); it was somewhat of a surprise when the Cookies only led by 4 at the half.  Without the Swarm picking up those penalties it could have been the Cookies down by 40.

The champions however showed the rough and tumble team that you would expect to win-it-all as they used some well placed penalties and Krissy Krash’s dominating defense to thin out the Swarms ranks in the second half.

The San Diego Swarm

The San Diego Swarm taking a quick team meeting before the 2010 championship game.

Perhaps like all roller derby the usual tripping, shoulder blocks, and in the case of the Tough Cookies, crowd taunting occurred.  Cool heads prevailed in the end as penalties continued to hurt the Swarm leading to multiple ejections from the game in the second half.  Or as the announcer said, “there seems to be some kind of deadly disease going around thinning out the hive.”

Possibly the best thing about the LADD jam other than the beautiful people in derby attire everywhere is the plethora of sites that make up a normal night for the dolls.  At halftime a metal/punk band with some actual talent played for the fans, even though I never caught their name so who cares anyway (sorry good band that played!!!!).  Hot Dog On A Stick sold its famous breaded delights, my personal favorites, along with other food trucks that posted in the parking lot.  (IS IT TRUE THAT THE FOOD TRUCKS GOT THE TABLES REMOVED FROM THE SIDEWALK IN FRONT OF ABOTT’S PIZZA CO!!!  I WILL KILL!!!).

Roller derby girls check out the band.

The amount of t-shirts, knickknacks, and memorabilia along with pure energy of the game fulfilled my need for commercial exploitation that I get at all sports events.  They also sold beer for those inclined to down a cold one.  All-in-all I give the whole night 5-stars and if you have a roller derby in your town (New York??) I say go support the beautiful women as the punch it out.

Oh yeah as the Los Angeles Times reported in 2008 that Alex Cohen from NPR was a roller girls, too bad you can’t read the first few paragraphs on my Firefox browser because some stupid Google ad!!!  You can check the article for a breakdown of the rules in simple form, too.

Also, if you are in Chicago on December 11 check out the L.A. Derby Dolls as they compete against the Windy City Rollers in the Red Bull Banked Jam.  GO L.A.!!!  Stab someone in the parking lot to show how we do in the City of Sin (no don’t I was joking).

Also, last interesting fact – an L.A. Derby Doll wrote the script for the movie “Whip It!” and the dolls skated in that movie.  I love you Derby Dolls!!!

The Girls Going RoundThe LA Derby Doll stage

Artwork at the L.A. Derby Doll track