March 17 2014 06:15 PM

Natural fragrances, air plants and American Indian motifs are happening here

3-19 scout-1
Hand-woven baskets from the Kumeyaay tribe
Photo courtesy of Make Good

While researching current spring trends, I learned that neon crop tops are here to stay, iridescent trench coats are the thing and orange is the new black. I gave this a lot of thought. Really, I did. So, I'm going to try to respond to this as fairly and objectively as possible: Hi, um, 2014 spring trends? The '80s called. They want their shit back. 

Luckily for all of us (even for those of us who love the '80s), what's trending closer to home is far less—er, bright. I asked a bunch of local retailers to weigh in, and this is some of what's flying off their shelves:

Natural fragrances

Asking someone to describe how their perfume smells is not all that different from asking them to describe their red wine: "I detect notes of blackberry, road tar and pencil shavings." It just sounds silly (those are all real wine descriptions, by the way). Case in point: My sister fell in love with West Third Brand, a Seattle-based small-batch perfumery whose stop-you-on-the-street fragrances can be found at Establish (1029 University Ave. in Hillcrest) and Love + Aesthetics (621 W. Fir St. in Little Italy). I asked her to wax poetic on the one she bought, Voyage d'Tabac: "It kind of reminds me of how someone's British grandfather would smell after smoking his pipe and reading old books in a leather chair. He may or may not have been wearing plaid and have had elbow pads." See what I mean? Well, it's lovely just the same. And, like all of West Third Brand's products, it's free of synthetics. For fragrances this refined, it's hard to believe you can get a bottle for only $32. Added bonus: They're all unisex. 

Looking for something more travel-friendly? Try a locally made roll-on perfume (also all-natural) by Purity Apothecary, which makes soap, skin-care products and more. You wouldn't think to wear lemongrass (I only think to eat it in Thai food), but it's bright and crisp and sets you back—get this—only $8. You can find these at various farmers markets around town or at Glimpse (3813 Ray St. in North Park).

Tillandsia (air plants)

Terrariums are ever-popular, but lately I've been seeing these air plants hanging in more and more shops around town. And the more I see them, the more I feel like I need them. Why? Because if you're a piece of art in our household, chances are you've been baby-handled. You have possibly been Hulk-smashed, drooled on or otherwise disrespected. Real sorry about that, guys. So, that leaves the ceiling. And air plants, out of the way but in your line of sight, look great in any room and can hang from pretty much anywhere. They grow without soil. They require very little water and attention. They're super cool-looking because they hang in glass orbs, which are at once sophisticated yet casual in the way the plants just hang out there. Pigment (3801 30th St. North Park) has a nice selection of DIY kits (starting at $30), but you can also buy them pre-arranged ($39.99 and up) at Grounded (897 S. Coast Hwy. 101 in Encinitas).

Anything American Indian 

Dream catchers, silver jewelry with hints of turquoise, hand-woven baskets from indigenous tribes and anything associated with American Indian motifs is trending in a big way here. One hyperlocal clothing line, 32nd & Elm, named after designer Katie Empkey's cross streets in South Park, is capitalizing on the popularity. Empkey is turning out some really rad hand-drawn designs of cow skulls, Aztec snakes, arrows and more for her line of kids clothes. Check out her new designs on Instagram.

Or, go directly to the source of these fashions. For jewelry and accessories from the Kumeyaay tribe (the original habitants of the land you're standing on), head to Make Good (2207 Fern St. in South Park), the only store in the U.S. where you can find these carefully crafted works. The handcrafted baskets are the stars of the tribe's offerings, though. Look for the ones woven with leaves; they'd make great centerpieces or fruit bowls for the kitchen table. Supplies are limited and going fast. 

Got tips on local retail? Write to or follow her on Twitter at @polinjun.


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