There’s something so sweet about receiving a gift that is more than it appears—that is from the source and of the source, that is really a story ensconced in an object.
As specialists in going to the source to unearth the globe’s most unique offerings, it only seemed fitting that our 2014 holiday gift guide be filled with one-of-a-kind goods from some of our favorite destinations. More than mere things, each item we’ve selected embodies the spirit, and tells the story, of a place.
The Base Project: Turning Recycled Namibian Water Pipes into Statement Bracelets ($)
The smooth, matte finish and coloration of these striking bracelets mean they are often mistaken for bone. But wearers can feel good knowing the bracelets are actually made from upcycled water pipes, carved with traditional designs by Namibian artisans. Featured is the Kunene Cattle bracelet. The design on this bracelet honors the connection between cattle (cattle are considered the lifeblood for the people of the Kunene region) and the culture of Northern Namibia. Go to the source: Journey to Namibia’s storied coastlines, silent deserts, and alien landscape.
A Peace Treaty: Gorgeous Tributes to the World’s Artisans ($$-$$$)
Founded by two world travelers, A Peace Treaty works with artisans across the globe to produce luxurious goods that meld ancient techniques with modern design. The results are beautifully-crafted accessories and scarves that feel at once fashionable and possess a deep sense of place. Featured is the Padit Bracelet. Handmade in India, the clasping detail invokes the horns of a cow, an animal that is considered holy in India and thus a frequent source of inspiration for Indian artisans. Go to the source: Journey to India to discover one of the oldest and most visually rich visual cultures.
Love Brand & Co: Beach Wear that Protects Elephants? Really! ($$)
Creating clothes that do good as well as look good is the goal of London-based Love Brand & Co. (Think fun Vilebrequin-esque patterns, but each pair of trunks is saving a pair of trunks.) A portion of each sale is donated to Elephant Family, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and Tusk Trust to protect the founder’s favorite animal (and one of ours too!): the elephant. The brand also offers clothing for children and women in equally fun, equally classic styles that, of course, are all about the elephants. If your looking for clothing that can stand-up to winter chills, we also love Horny Toad (recently rebranded as Toad&Co) for travel-focused, sustainably-made clothing. Go to the source: Journey to Kenya to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust where you can meet the most joyful brood of rehabilitated elephants!
Industry of All Nations: Fair Trade Opening Borders ($-$$)
Industry of All Nations is focused on returning manufacturing to the regions where products and materials originate. In doing so, they are able to bring unique-local businesses to an international market, whilst helping to promote fair trade, environmental and social awareness. Featured are the classic Kenyatas. Made of 100% African materials, these easy slip-ons have long been a favorite of Kenyans and are being offered to customers outside of Africa for the first time in 40 years! Go to the source: Journey to Kenya for the ultimate African safari experience.
Maiyet: Pioneering a New Luxury by Celebrating the Rare and Unexpected ($$$$)
Maiyet prides themselves on celebrating rare-artisanal skills from unexpected places. Designed for discerning tastes with an emphasis on quality and a human touch, Maiyet approaches high-end fashion through responsible avenues. Their covetable clothing, jewelry, bags, and (new!) fragrance are designed and handmade in collaboration with local artisans in India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mongolia, and Peru to create sophisticated goods that cannot be found elsewhere. Featured is a hand-printed scarf spun from fine Himalayan wool and hand painted with delicate lines reminiscent of light patterns on a stream. Each scarf is wearable artwork, numbered as part of a limited, 25 piece series. Go to the source: Journey to Indonesia—a stunning country many of Maiyet’s artisans call home. You’ll be swept away by the jewel-box islands, no two alike, that span the immense Indonesian archipelago.
Ranchlands Mercantile: Leather Goods Made by The Experts—Coloradan Ranchers ($$$$)
Ranchlands Mercantile specializes in handmade-leather goods produced by Coloradan ranchers using traditional saddle production techniques. A Nest project, Ranchland Mercantile works to empower the community and protect the natural resources by creating a sustainable supplementary industry for American ranchers. We love this supple leather duffel for safari: it’s soft-sides, rugged details, and XL size make it the perfect, gets-better-with-age piece of luggage. Go to the source: Journey to Colorado for open-sky, powdered mountains, and cozy-luxe lodges.
High West Whiskey: Taste the American Prairie ($)
As devotees to preserving the American West’s culture, heritage, and wild beauty, it’s only natural that High West Whiskey paired with our nation’s largest conservation project, The American Prairie Reserve. The signature American Prairie Reserve bourbon donates a portion of sales profits directly to their mission to create the largest conservancy in the Lower 48, and to revitalize the plains as they were when Lewis & Clark encountered them during their expedition across these uncharted lands over 200 years ago. Picture tens of thousands of bison, racing bands of pronghorn antelope, and painfully beautiful open wilderness as you sip your holiday cocktails. If you’re in search of the ultimate food caterer for your holiday party, we wholeheartedly recommend Brooklyn-based Poppy’s seasonal bites. Poppy’s is not only a dream to work with, but we love how they choose simple, seasonal, and local ingredients and their presentation is superb. (We challenge you to find a more delicious Instagram account.) Go to the source: Journey to America’s Serengeti and help build a national treasure while rafting down the Missippi River, hiking through the plains, and staying in the luxury yerts at Kestral Camp.
Cabinet of Natural Curiosities: Standing the Test of Time ($)
Albertus Seba’s 18th Century Cabinet of Natural Curiosities is considered a prized natural history achievement for good reason—not only was the catalogue one of the most extensive and detailed classifications of animals, plants, and insects for its time, but the hand-drawn illustrations are gorgeous. Don’t be surprised if you have the urge to tear them from the book and frame them! You’ll be inspired by Seba’s sense of adventure and want to travel far afield to see the plants and creatures he illustrates in their natural habitats. Go to the source: Why not circle the world as Seba did? Close your eyes, spin the globe, and choose your starting point!
Makié: Defining Adorable ($$)
Tiny-cashmere leggings, whimsical prints, and precious down jackets. Need we say more? This Japanese boutique for children’s clothing is beyond adorable—every detail is perfectly placed but never overdone. From the country that has mastered design, we would expect no less. Don’t blame us if you find yourself selecting one of everything or wishing they came in adult sizes. Go to the source: Journey to Japan for a meditation on the past and present, serenity, beauty, and world-class cuisine and design.
State Bags: Backpacks that Give Back ($$)
For each backpack purchased, State Bags hand delivers a backpack to a child in need within the United States. Additionally, they lead motivational Bag Drop rallies that aim to inspire and empower children to believe in themselves. Featured is the children’s Kane backpack. Not only will your little one love the fun colors, but another little one in need will receive their own Kane backpack for the holidays. Go to the source: Getaway in your own backyard and explore North America from the towering redwoods and surf of California to the untamed wilderness of Alaska.
The Citizenry: Infusing Homes with a Love of Travel ($$-$$$)
Why The Citizenry? The name reflects the purpose: The founders of the company established The Citizenry to create a community of artisans and individuals who appreciated beautifully crafted, handmade goods around the world. Each item in the exclusive line blends modern style with traditional techniques to create home product that can’t be found elsewhere. Featured is the impossible soft Diamanta Throw handwoven in Peru by The Weavers of Huancavelia. Go to the source: Journey to Peru to experience mouth-watering cuisine, picturesque villages, and mythical Machu Picchu.
Maison Malabar: Heirloom Products to Create the Most Beautiful Home Around ($$$$)
Maison Malabar scourers the globe for bespoke, heirloom goods for the home. With offices in New York and New Delhi, in addition to overdyed, hand-knotted carpets and rugs created from recycled saris, Maison Malabar will help create your dream home décor with custom orders and interior design. We’re converts: visit our beautiful New York space come Spring for proof of just how fabulous Maison Malabar is! Go to the source: Journey to India to experience diverse and vibrant New Delhi.
Add an extra personal touch with an original photograph from the Bhairava Photographs. The photographs depict the everyday surroundings of two Indian drivers, Boopathy Jayaraman and his brother-in-law Gajendra Subramanyam.
Wildlife Alliance: The Most Generous Gift of All (and it’s only $5 a month!)
The most generous gift that can be given this holiday season is the gift of protecting our beautiful planet so that there are wild places worth exploring for generations to come. There are countless creatures whose wild home is in need of protecting. Through our Absolute Awareness partners, Wildlife Alliance, you can choose to sponsor Chhouk, the three-footed Asian Elephant who has been nursed back to health and happiness with love and attention at WA. Or Araeng, the playful but shy Indochinese Tiger who was hand raised at WA when his mother was unable to care for him. How about Bangroul, the loveable, ant-eating Sunda Pangolin who has flourished against all odds at Wildlife Alliance! Go to the source: Journey to Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains to visit your four-legged, sponsored friend at Wildlife Alliance! On this special journey you’ll experience the powerful work Wildlife Alliance is doing to protect the forests and wildlife in the Southeast Asian tropical belt.
Of course, if you’re looking for a gift that is really special and totally bespoke, there is nothing like creating your own stories at the source with a once-a-in-a-lifetime journey for you and your loved ones.
Looking for more gifting ideas? Visit our Pinterest page!