Whether we’re seeing friends and family face-to-face or through a computer screen this festive season, we’ve never felt more urge to gift in a more thoughtful way. Whether it’s an environmentally-aware made-to-order purchase, or a present that supports emerging and avant-garde creatives, a host of innovative etailers provide enchantingly alternative gifting options. They’ll have equally uplifting effect whether opened underneath the Christmas tree, or sent to surprise someone by post. Prepare your wrapping paper now.

House of Bandits

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Top, Jessica Bag, by Cecily Ophelia. Bottom Jax pocket pebble in 18-ct gold plated bronze and ebony, by Charlotte Garnett, both for House of Bandits

Back in October, the Sarabande Foundation – the charitable organisation launched by Lee Alexander McQueen – opened the experiential pop-up space House of Bandits in Central London. The project was conceived to champion and support creatives spanning art, fashion, jewellery design, photography and ceramics during a post-pandemic period of financial and creative uncertainty. Due to ongoing lockdown restrictions, the pop-up has now moved online, where through an e-commerce platform, shoppers can stock up on clothing by Bianca Saunders and Stefan Cooke, resin-encased creations by jeweller Emily Frances Barrett and tapestries by Berke Yazicioglu.

Shopping for someone with a sleek, minimalist mindset? We suggest scoping out the creations of jeweller Charlotte Garnett, which are ergonomically designed to promote well being. For someone more inclined to embellishment, Cecily Ophelia’s accessories are hand-crafted using vintage and upcycled fabrics, and are beaded by Kanyoyga Mums, a group of craftswomen based in the Kanyogoga district of Kampala, Uganda. This Jessica Bag features a vibrant self-portrait of its maker, head artisan Jessica Kugumikirize.

Rêve En Vert 

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Top, Bobby circular vase in lava , by Marloe Marloe. Bottom, organic merino wool scarf by Maydi, both for Rêve En Vert

Tired of trend-driven spending, co-founder and CEO Cora Hilts launched luxury sustainability e-tailer Rêve En Vert in 2014. The site operates according to an environmentally-aware output, placing focus on brands that manufacture with a social and ecological conscience, using organic or upcycled materials, working with local communities, paying a fair living wage and reducing carbon emissions and waste. Its fashion, beauty and lifestyle sections span from fragrance to fitness, baby to bridal wear, featuring brands including Wallpaper* Design Awards 2019 winner Haeckels, Riley Studio and Feldspar Studio.

For a feel good festive gift, we recommend browsing Rêve En Vert’s Made to Order section, where you can custom purchase minimalist ceramics by Marloe Marloe, snuggly knits by Maydi and ruffled pillow sets by Arkitaip. There’s a worrisome amount of waste associated with the holiday season, and purchasing using a bespoke service slows down the process of manufacturing and reduces excess production. Fan of a festive solo stroll? We also recommend tuning into the Rev On Air podcast, which features interviews with a spectrum of sustainability experts, from organic food pioneer and chef Skye Gyngell to Haeckels’ Dom Bridges, hosted by Hilts herself.

Rites

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Top, Alice Cicolini Candy Bar earrings, bottom, embroidered tulle dress, by Simone Rocha, both for Rites

Luxury resale platform Rites allows people to sell preloved fashion items, with sales donated to a host of good causes. On 10 December, a special Designers for Inequality auction sees a host of pieces up for grabs, donated by over 50 designers, from Balenciaga to Marc Jacobs, Molly Goddard to Cecilie Bahnsen, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. ‘We’ve been completely overwhelmed by the generosity shown during a time that has been hard for a lot of people,’ says Meg O’Hara, Rites Co-Founder of the sale, which will support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with training and education. 

With over 150 pieces up for grabs, it’s tricky to choose our favourites, but we’re easily inclined to pieces with a touch of design history. For obsessives of the Memphis movement, we recommend a pair of candy stripe enamel earrings by London-based jeweller Alice Cicolini. For the family member with a penchant for Delft porcelain? We suggest Simone Rocha’s blue and white embroidered dress. By signing up to the Rites newsletter, customers can take in the auction’s full catalogue, before the sale begins at 10am. 

APOC Store

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Top, Lit Barret hair clip, by Corrina Goutos. Bottom, Blob boxes, plastic baroque toilet roll holder, plastic baroque serving spoon and plastic baroque fruit bowl, by James Shaw, both for APOC Store

2020 has been full of disconcerting stories of large department stores dropping seasonal orders from burgeoning brands, leaving them with piles of excess stock, or of boutiques placing brand-diluting demands on small labels, requesting styles in specific shades or fabrics. In a bid to place purchasing power back into the hands of niche labels and artists, Tracey Suen and Jules Volleberg launched avant-garde retailer APOC Store three months ago. The curated marketplace, which spans fashion, accessories and art, allows sellers to specify their needs, whether they’re choosing to create one-off styles, made-to-order commissions or to sell repurposed pieces. Suen and Volleberg work collaboratively with their designers, which include surrealist accessories label D’Heygere, eccentric milliner Benny Andallo and ceramics artist Pauline Bonnet.

For the festive season, APOC Store has launched a selection of exclusive drops, which include collapsible disc gloves by South Korean fashion designer Sun Woo and stocking-ready saucy Kepler pants. On the hunt for homeware? Allow us to direct you to artist James Shaw’s colourful recycled plastic fruit bowls and Niko June’s irregular earthenware clag mugs. A gift for the extrovert in the family? Harikrishnan’s Internet-breaking inflatable latex trousers are available to purchase in a vibrant red colourway.

Doda the Store

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Top, Oversized Damyanti Silk Pouches, by Mehrotra. Bottom, Gota Santa Necklace, by Sisi Joai, both for Doda the Store.

London-based fashion editor and stylist Grace Wright launched luxury jewellery and accessories e-tailer Doda the Store in February 2020. Subverting the notion of the trend-driven ‘It’ bag or the fleeting jewellery trend, the pleasingly hued online space specialises in craft-focused pieces by independent designers, including Stockholm-based Mehrotra, which works only in natural materials, and Spanish-born London-based jeweller Sandralexandra, who has a penchant for pearls.

Shopping for someone obsessed with organic cappuccino tones? Felt specialist Cecilie Telle’s bucket and pod bags are available in an array of brown hues and are gloriously tactile in their handmade finish. Fancy gifting something that will glint in the winter sun? Sisi Joai’s recycled glass pendants will bring some sparkle to a stocking, and will shine their way into summer too. §