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Website Review: 'Etsy' - the artists Ebay by Katie Antoniou

If you've cut back on retail therapy since the financial apocalypse, and withdrawal symptoms are beginning to set in, let me point you in the direction of Etsy. Assuaging all your sweatshop/environment/sustainability guilt, ... is kind of like Ebay, but for handmade items only- from cookies to soap, socks to coffee tables-if it can be made, chances are you'll find someone on Etsy who's making it. Sellers range from housewives in Ohio, to fashion students in Denmark; all earning a little extra through their creative handiwork. This means that not only can you give yourself a big pat on the back for supporting independent artists rather than corporate chains, but you're also likely to pay less for something that no-one else will be wearing. What's not to like?
Painter, carpenter and photographer Rob Kalin created the site after failing to find anywhere he could sell his products effectively online. In 2005, the year the site was launched, $166,000 worth of goods were sold. This year, they had already sold $32 million worth by March. The ethos behind the site is responsible for it being such a massive hit in the States, and as the figures show, its starting to become better known worldwide- everyone is reacting against our culture of mass-production and supporting small, home-run businesses where people make things by hand. The site's statement says it all:
With the global economic crisis putting finances in a squeeze, Etsy is a great way to maximize a budget. There is an endless variety of unique, quality handmade gifts at affordable prices. Besides being memorable, these gifts are also valuable. They're made to last a lifetime, not just until next year's version comes out. Which means less trash for landfills, and more savings for shoppers. Plus, each purchase on Etsy directly supports independent artists and designers.

I'll be guiding you through some of the best buys on offer, starting this month with the ubiquitous floral print. Iconic London store Liberty takes credit for championing the trend soon after its opening in 1875, enlisting prolific artists of the time including Aubrey Beardsley, Paul Poiret and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. By the 1960s, designers like Mary Quant and Jean Muir had incorporated the prints into their work, to be followed by the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Paul Smith who jumped on the bandwagon. Current collaborators include Cacharel, Nike and of course Ms Moss of Topshop who's had a series of new prints created in her honour. I've spotted items from said range on ebay for nearly half a grand-bag something better on Etsy for a fraction of the price. One of the best things about the sellers of handmade clothes is that they are usually willing to custom-make things for you if none of the sizes offered match your measurements. Just send them your details and they'll tailor make it for you. Fancy that dress but in a slightly different shade or print? Just let them know.
One of the inherent risks of Etsy is that if you have an artsy bone in your body, you'll probably end up whipping out that old sewing machine from under the bed, and confidently chortling, 'I could make that myself!' Chances are you probably can- after all, it worked for Laura Ashley and Cath Kidston- but you may need a few pointers- Prick your finger (...) has both resources and classes, as does Liberty Stitch who are holding sewing and patchwork quilt classes over the next couple of months. (...)

Etsy also sells supplies so check out their stock of fabrics, equipment and lovely starter kits like this one from MillineryMiss: ...



Prints Charming
The floral playsuit is one of Topshop's best selling items so far this Spring- if you've got the confidence to pull one off, here's a couple of gems:

Lavendar floral print playsuit by Kittydearest
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Feur's playsuit by Nadinoo
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Undies are the perfect place to sport a print- try these:

Bra and Panties by Lovelythings:
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Rose print peephole knickers by HopelesslyDevoted
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LondonCalling Babydoll set in Liberty Print Moss Paisley by LoveBabyGrand:
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This is a bit pricey- a real investment piece-but remember the price you see is dollars not pounds- they'll convert currency when you check out.

Rockabilly cocktail swing dress by AudreyandGrace

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The Audrey clutch purse by Handsfullcreations:

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Leah beach blanket by BombshellBelle

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Top Etsy Tip:
If you like a seller's work, click on their 'Favourites' tab on the right hand side of the page, which will take you to all the sellers they like..and so on until before you know it your cyber basket is full!
Happy Etsying!