Things I love on Etsy

March 31, 2009 at 11:30 am (art, culture)

Shopping for clothes is one of my most hated past-times – it’s nearly impossible to find something that fits my budget (ie, inexpensive), my body (very tall), my taste (black black and more black, but I also love stuff that’s unusual or downright weird), and my politics (ie, was this garment made by slave labor? I’m tired of simply hoping not). So after a frustrating afternoon of shopping for some spring clothes and still coming home with nothing, a friend of mine reminded me of the existence of Etsy.

Etsy is a sort of clearinghouse for emerging designers, artists, craftspeople, and so forth. You go to the Etsy site and you are treated to a barrage of images from hundreds (I’d imagine thousands? maybe tens of thousands?) of homemade items by sellers all over the world. They have everything – housewares, clothes, food, everything. Want a cool screenprinted t–shirt? Instead of buying it from a mega-store that has all sorts of questionable business practices, why not buy it directly from the artist who created it? In many cases, what you see on Etsy is an example of an item that the artist will make by hand when they receive your order. This means you might have to wait a week or so to get your item, but it also means that when you wear your t-shirt out on a Saturday night, chances are you won’t bump into half a dozen people who are wearing the same thing.

Not everything about Etsy is so great – with as many retailers vying for your eyes and dollars, there’s a lot of stuff that just isn’t that exciting. It’s difficult to search, too. Looking for something like “shirts” will turn up an enormous amount of links to homemade shirts – exciting at first, but then you realize that huge percentage of them aren’t even in the ballpark of what you’re looking for (there’s an apparent trend of making clothes for dolls, which means that I kept seeing a thumbnail of a really cool design listed for really cheap and then upon clicking on it realized: oh, wait. It’s for a doll). This doesn’t even factor in the more subtle question of taste. What would be awesome is if Etsy found a way to really tailor your search to rid it of things like this, but also of things that aren’t at all your taste. Something like, “search for: shirts; leave out: empire waist, maternity, green, yellow.” (good lord, did that make any sense at all?)

But whatever. The point is, for the same amount of money I would have spent buying something at a megastore, I was able to get something directly from the creator on Etsy. And so, without further ado, here are some designers that I really liked, that I other bought from or will buy from very soon. May this very short list make your Etsy searching much easier:

I bought a shirt from JAlvo, but what I really love are her jackets. It’s maybe a little steep for me to spend right now on one of these amazing jackets (although her pricing is very fair – it’s just that I’m pretty broke), but maybe one of you want to take the plunge? Her clothes all have amazing cuts to them and everything is pretty much black, white or grey. What could be better?



Untamed Menagerie makes some incredible jewelry that is simple and direct but also shockingly original. Cut from acrylic, they make these silhouettes that in some cases tell little narrative stories or in others just amaze with their detail and fine touches. It’s like wearing a Kara Walker around your neck. And come on, that’s super cool:



Moresassvintage has this awesome octopus-girl t-shirt that I keep coming back to:

And lastly, for now, Fleathers makes some stunning jewelry which is out of my budget… and possibly my entire lifestyle. But man, it’s super cool. If I wasn’t a poor academic schlub, I’d wear this in an instant – it is gorgeous:




  1. Katie said,

    Amy! You should do a Guest Curator post ( for the Etsy blog. Would you be interested?

    My internship is up at the end of April, but I think I may re-open my Etsy shop soon!

  2. Andrew Thornton said,

    They also have a thing where you can get people to bid on your custom order. So, in theory, you could have a new outfit just the way you want it for exactly the amount you want to spend. (You can say how much you’re willing to pay and only people who know how much they’re going to make bid.)

    I’ve got some really cool custom stuff, like a slipcover for my Ikea sofa. Nothing would fit it before and I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, which would be more than the actual sofa.

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