— Lately, less seems to be more in our mass-produced world: Quality, not quantity, is very much en vogue. From accessories to art, TODAY style editor and Bobbie.com’s Bobbie Thomas highlights an emerging trend.
Spotlight on small scale
While big brand names dominate the retail scene, websites such as OfaKind.com are on a mission to help you discover new designers. In a weekly email, Of A Kind spotlights a limited edition of one unique item from an independent designer, from five to 50 pieces. Each item comes with a certificate personally signed and numbered by the designer — something not likely to be found in any mall ($40-$500; OfAKind.com ).
Another great resource for those who crave something special, as well as up-and-coming crafters, is Etsy.com’s online marketplace. Inspired by an earth science class, Etsy seller Theresa Cowan’s mineralogy collection caught my eye. Her handcrafted jewelry is fashioned from perfectly imperfect uncut and unpolished crystals, along with obscure elements such as animal bones and prehistoric animal teeth, ensuring one-of-a-kind status ($45-$200; MineralogyDesign.Etsy.com ).
Less supply, more demand
Mass-market retailers are seeking out special collaborations and partnerships to provide consumers with select merchandise. Urban Outfitters currently scours the globe for their “Around the World” collection, which connects popular overseas designers with American consumers by bringing small quantities of goods directly to their U.S. stores. The retailer also churns out original pieces in their “Urban Renewal” line, which utilizes dated and discarded items, turning them into stylish garments of which no two are alike ($10-$590; UrbanOutfitters.com ).
Similarly, vintage-inspired Free People handpicks antique garments for the “Vintage Loves” section of their website. From delicate slips to leather handbags, only one of each item is available — so savvy shoppers are adopting a now-or-never mentality in hopes of getting their hands on a rare gem ($98-$228; FreePeople.com ).
And on the heels of H&M’s designer exclusives and Target’s Go International Designer Collective, Macy’s has kicked off a series of limited-edition designer capsule collections that will be rotated every few months. In stores this month, Matthew Williamson for Impulse includes unique printed tops, dramatic dresses, leather jackets and more, starting at $59. While the appeal of owning a designer garment for less is as strong as ever, the allure of being one of few is proving to be equally exciting ($59-$299; Macys.com ).
Authentic art accents
In a society with the convenience of superstores like Walmart and Ikea, it’s nice to see art get a boost, too. ExhibitionA.com is helping bridge the gap between street art and upscale galleries. They work with well-known names like David LaChapelle, as well as lesser-known artists looking to grow their fan base, to create exclusive editions of their work at affordable prices ($100-$500; ExhibitionA.com ).
Created by two brothers in Connecticut, OneofTwenty.com is another online art hub. Featuring limited-edition runs of 20 copies, the website is an online artist collective and clothing company that showcases many talents ($50 & up); OneofTwenty.com ).
And long gone are the days of stuffy portraiture — working from photos submitted to her website, watercolor artist Missy McCullough can turn around fresh, custom-painted illustrations of your loved ones, pets, or even your favorite heels within a few weeks. You can also purchase unique prints of celebrities, from icons like Elizabeth Taylor to younger stars like Janelle Monae ($25-$195; IMissyYou.com ).