Five unique, cool and sustainable gifts for him

Ever feel like you’re being tortured when looking for a cool, thoughtful and original gift for your partner? And not to mention the enormous challenge if you also want it to be sustainable. Stop your search ladies and gents! Because I’ve done some research for all of you out there pulling your hair out in search for the perfect gift. Here are 5 unique and sustainable gifts. I’m sure your bf will fit one of the descriptions.

If he’s a nifty design lover (who loved building stuff as a kid, and actually still does) : Makersleeve
Makersleeve in the colour Anthracite. Photo courtesy of Martijn van Strien
Makersleeves in the coulours Ocean Blue and Bordeaux. Photo courtesy of Martijn van Strien

The Dutch designer, Martijn van Strien, developed this clever sleeve for electronic devices that can be made on demand in just a few minutes. The digital design allows it to be customised to the specific size of your laptop, ipad or mobile phone. Martijn wants to battle overconsumption by laser cutting every sleeve after it’s ordered online. The designs are cut out in a sustainable felt fabric in the CRE8 lab in Amsterdam and are delivered at your doorstep afterwards. In the near future Martijn is planning on collaborating with Makerlabs in other countries, which will make the process even more eco-friendly. When you order a Makersleeve you have the choice to have it assembled in the lab or to do it yourself. If your partner enjoys a bit of nifty craftsmanship this is a really cool extra dimension to the present. Let’s get cracking!

Check out the clever Makersleeve here.

If he’s a selective (slightly picky) high-end spirits lover: HenTho Gin 12
HenTho Gin in its natural habitat. Photo courtesy of HenTho Gin. Photographed by Charlotte Coenen

HenTho Gin is the one and only gin distilled in Antwerp and is a creation of The Antwerp Gin company, which consists of father and son, Hendrik and Thomas Coenen. Since they founded the company in 2013 they’ve been firm believers of small scale production, high quality goods and producing locally. Their signature HenTho Gin 12 is a robust gin made from 12 herbs and spices including fresh lemon grass, cardamom, juniper berries, black pepper and coriander. Besides the obvious treat for your taste buds, the design of the bottle and logo is impeccable. I’m afraid this bottle doesn’t come with a lock for your liquor cabinet, though!

Check out quality HenTho Gin here.

If you want him to look like James Dean (and obviously you do): Bambooti sunglasses
Instant cool vibe with the Bambooti Skate Blue made from layered maple wood. Photographed by Marie Bouly
Skate Blue. Photo by FotoBen

It’s not quite summer yet but there’s no harm in preparing him for the rays that are still to come. Bambooti is a Belgian lifestyle brand founded only half a year ago by two childhood friends: Freek Gielen and Pieter Van Moll. Using natural and renewable resources such as bamboo and wood is imprinted into their core business. Besides their dedication to nature, Bambooti supports ‘Eyes for the World’. This is a non-profit organisation that provides adjustable glasses to children with poor vision in third world countries. 2017 is a very exciting year for this young brand: not only have they decided to produce and source everything in Belgium but they’ve also started designing an entirely new collection out of stone.
Ps: Bambooti isn’t responsible for the extra attention your James Dean look-alike will get. Just saying.

Check out the wooden Bambooti sunglasses, cases and sleeves here.

If he secretly loves being cosy but would never admit it: Howlin’ jumper
Enjoying the breeze in a Howlin’ knit. Photo courtesy of Howlin’
Four Eyes – Oxford designed by Howlin’

If summer isn’t on his mind yet because he’s struggling to survive these last blistering cold winter months, treat him to a super comfy Howlin’ jumper. Howlin’ is a Belgian brand that strives to surpass trends with their durable knitwear designs. All collections are produced in Ireland, Scotland and Belgium. For the ‘Made in Belgium’ collection they were inspired by the origin of New Beat music created in Belgium by coincidence. Howlin’ explains: “There are many different, ‘mythical’ stories on how this new beat was born, but we like the story of a talented dj called Fat Ronny who was simply too wasted and played 45 rpm records at 33 rpm and pitched them +8 on his turntable. The result was a new robotic sound that was very bass driven”.

Well, now you also know how to impress your boyfriend with music facts while he tries on his new cosy jumper.

Check out the comfy and cool knits here.

If he likes to travel, work,… practically do everything in style: Plane industries rucksack
With a Plane Industries bag he’ll look freakishly stylish, even when waiting for the bus. Photo by Plane Industries
The Rucksack by Plane Industries. Photo by Plane Industries

Ben and Harry Tucker, two brothers who learnt to be resourceful and inventive from a young age. Their father, who was a farmer, taught them to reuse what was still salvageable. And so history was made: by using those skills the brothers developed a stylish collection of ruck sacks and travel bags made from airline fabrics that would have ended up in landfills or incinerators. The fabrics are extremely strong, lightweight, flameproof and stain resistant, which makes the bags perfect for frequent use, your entire life long. For the construction of their designs they collaborate with the best and oldest bag makers in Somerset, Britain.
Ps: Ladies and gents, I know it will be hard not to keep this piece of up-cycled heaven for yourself but think of how much you love him…

Check out the sophisticated rucksacks here.

In The Spotlight: fashion designer Cédric Jacquemyn

Cédric Jacquemyn is an Antwerp based designer who has always been inspired by the Icelandic mindset on sustainability and integrated the ferocious landscapes into the first designs of his label. Besides his fascination for nature, Cédric is intrigued by original tribal communities and communicates the harsh reality of their extinction through his current collections.

Icelandic landscapes are an inspiration for a lot of your designs. When did your fascination for Iceland arise?

“I first visited Iceland with my partner in 2008. We travelled around the country and brought our tent. The power and the greatness of nature made me realise how small we humans are. It was quite overwhelming, in a good way. At first the volcanoes and decay of nature were my focus points, a rather negative point of view. Later on my inspiration shifted towards the potential that volcanoes have to revive nature because of their ability to fertilise soil. The disappearance of certain tribal communities around the world is visible in my designs too because the decay of nature is closely linked to the number of tribes diminishing.”

S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander
S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander

Nature and the environment are very important to you. How do you integrate this into your designs?

“The use of natural materials and a minimization of synthetics are key to my designs. The buttons are made from wood or horn and the fabrics I use are mostly leather or silk. It’s important to me that everything is biodegradable. Items shouldn’t last longer than a lifetime. In nature everything evolves too and the clothes we make nowadays won’t be relevant in a 100 years. That’s why nature should be able to take its course with our garments. Nothing is forever and that’s ok.”

What is your view on the future of fashion?

“I believe that environmentally conscious clothing is the only correct way to make garments in this exponentially growing world. We need to overcome the dominating rule of fast fashion and focus on true craftsmanship. You’ll notice my collection isn’t in the same price range as the clothing you’ll find on the high street. My pieces are made to last longer than one season and involve a lot of manual craftsmanship. The price people are used to paying for clothes from large chains nowadays is too low for the clothing to be manufactured in an ethical and responsible way. My goal is to surpass trends and encourage people to invest in a beautifully handcrafted, eco-friendly and biodegradable coat they will wear and cherish for years to come.”

S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander
S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander

What are your plans for the label in the near future?

“The label started as a menswear label but we noticed that women wore the pieces too. Because the focus shifted towards tailoring and suits, women stopped wearing my pieces. That’s why I decided to make a blazer and pants for women a few seasons back. Gradually I would like to design a full women’s line by adding a few garments every year. Growing slowly is the best option because financially the label had a hard time during the recession. As a young creative I want to keep going forward but sometimes you need to do things step by step and just keep doing what your good at. I work with a lot of driven interns and hope to extend my fixed team with professionals who have the same ideas and feel as strongly about the value of craftsmanship and the environment as I do. It’s crucial to realise that nature is so much bigger, more powerful than us. It deserves our respect.”

View Cédric’s full collection here cj-ss17_007

S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander

S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander

Project: roaring twenties fashion shoot

As some of you know already: I’m a big photography fan and an enthusiastic amateur. Mostly I’m into urban photography as I live in the city of Antwerp for the moment (I just moved back here from Amsterdam) but I also enjoy making portraits and capturing awe striking landscapes during my travels or just while doing my Sunday afternoon walks through the fields here in Belgium.

Whilst I was abroad last year studying in England I followed Advanced Fashion Photography at Southampton Solent University. I organised an entire shoot by myself and made a fashion story I’m very proud of. Luckily a good friend of mine was so kind to assist me with all the heavy lights and equipment.

The location of the shoot was The Chilworth Manor Hotel just outside of Southampton. It was the perfect décor for my Jazz Age shoot because it was rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century with a mix of Regency and Victorian style architecture. The beautiful garden was the icing on this flapper cake.

I had the honour to have Diana Valentinova as my gorgeous model. The way she can evoke this deeply pensive and slightly sad look is absolutely stunning. The roll of a twentieth century upper-class woman with a certain edge fitted her perfectly. All of the clothing and accessories used in the shoot were either vintage, second hand or borrowed from friends. As an inspiration I researched work of the best (fashion) photographers of the twentieth century: Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Jacques Henri Lartrigue, Helmut Newton, Peter Lindberg, Irving Penn, Mario Testino…

Hope you enjoy my pictures!

In The Spotlight: Caroline Harris

Caroline Harris finished her BA (Hons) Fashion at Southampton Solent University with a stunning final project: a luxurious upcycled collection. Caroline was happy to share her story with Pastel Wanders:

“I wanted to make a luxurious and wearable collection that would appeal to a wider audience. I did not want the main focus to be the fact it was recycled because I wanted this to be something that could be ‘normal’ rather than a focus point.”

Quality needs time

“The reason behind my upcycling was purely based upon using up old/ vintage garments, disused cloths and fabric lengths; I even managed to get my hands on old rolls of Ted Baker linings. Most importantly I wanted the collection to maintain its premium and luxurious feel. Although I was using ‘old’ remnants, I never wanted this to affect the quality of my collection. I spent many hours carefully unpicking original garments making sure I could utilise every last inch of the fabrics I had sourced.”

Future of fashion

“It was important to me to use remnant cloth or ‘old’ garments as I felt that it was something that could easily be done if you put thought behind it – so why not. My final project opened my eyes to what the fashion industry could be and where fashion could go if the right people were eager to pursue new possibilities. I see the future of fashion evolve in a way where sustainability, renewal and vintage can flourish.”

Caroline Harris

Amsterdam: a dream for vintage lovers

The beautiful city of Amsterdam is visited for many reasons. I love the rich amount of vintage shops and if you make an effort you can also find some ethical clothing shops. Here are some of my current favourites:

Vintage shops:

Retro chic

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This tiny unique vintage shop has some stunning pieces from every decade of the 20th century and sells quality clothing from renowned designers. Even the shopkeeper looked like she stepped out of a romantic black and white movie.

Address: Staalstraat 2
Retro Chic

Bij ons vintage

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‘Bij ons vintage’ has two locations in Amsterdam where they sell original vintage clothes. Every piece of clothing has a tag with the decade it originates from. The shop is very neatly presented which makes it even more pleasurable to shop there.

Address: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 150 and Reestraat 13
Bij ons vintage


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My number three must be Zipper. They have a lovely range of checkered shirts and Christmas jumpers for this winter. A good place to fill up your Christmas stockings!

Address: Huidenstraat 7

Sustainable and fair fashion:


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Nukuhiva has two locations: Amsterdam and Utrecht. They specialise in selling trendy brands that are also fair and sustainable. The founder, Floortje Dessing, named her shops after an island in French-Polynesia. According to her it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. “The people who live on that stunning island manage to live in harmony with nature in a way we can only dream of”, Floortje explains on her website.

Address: Haarlemmerstraat 36

I love vintage

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This cute shop mostly sells vintage inspired clothes. Not all their garments are fair and sustainable but they sell an interesting and beautiful brand called Bannou. This brand aspires to make every step of the garment chain as sustainable as possible. Designer and founder Faranak Mirjalili travels around the world to fulfil that goal by visiting the factories and building a relationship with her workers.
Address: Haarlemmerstraat 25 and Prinsengracht 201
I love vintage

Enjoy fashion ethically: My style

I enjoy mixing vintage, charity shop bargains and contemporary pieces. My style in a few words: timeless, elegant and edgy. Recently I bought this skirt at a charity shop in Southampton for just a few pounds and matched it with my grey T-shirt from Sissy-Boy. Elegant necklaces are my favourite. I purchased this vintage-looking one at Zahia, a Belgian jewellery shop that sells gems from all over the world. As photography is one of my passions I also have an analogue camera, a Canon A-1, which used to be my grandfather’s.


Do you know the true cost of fast fashion?

The True Cost (2015), a documentary by Andrew Morgan, is a must see for all ethical fashion lovers. The impact of the fashion industry on our planet and its people is thoroughly investigated by Andrew and his team. Using this documentary as a basis, I will summarise what fashion is doing to our world and what we can do to stop these practices, once and for all.

Worthless codes of conduct

After the Rana Plaza in Dhaka collapsed, killing 1129 people, a lot of consumers and big clothing companies carried on as they did before. Some companies signed voluntary codes of conduct but hardly any significant changes have occurred for the garment workers. “Voluntary codes of conduct aren’t worth the paper they’re written on”, according to Barbara Briggs, Director of the Institute for labour rights.

The second most polluting industry

Not only are the workers being exploited, our planet is too. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Tons of waste water are spilt into lakes in developing countries and the amount of pesticides used for cotton keeps rising because of the re-engineered seed produced in the West. “Whole towns in the Punjab region in India are swallowed by epidemics of cancer, mental illness and physical handicaps because of pesticides”, says Dr Pritpal Singh.

Who is responsible?

We, as consumers, are also responsible. By giving in to the idea that more and cheaper clothing will make us happy we encourage big clothing companies to keep cutting corners. “The more people are focused on materialistic values, the more people say money, image, possession and status are important to them. But we need to remember possessing things isn’t going to make us happy”, explains Tim Kasser, PHD en psychology professor at Knox College.

The solution

So, what can we do about this? Shopping consciously is the first step. By supporting ethical brands you choose not to feed bottomless pockets of multinationals that couldn’t care less about the garment workers and our planet.

Secondly we should reconsider the amount of clothes we buy and cherish the pieces we purchase. Lucy Siegle hits the right notes when she says: ‘Fashion can never and should never be thought of as a disposable product’.

Watch the trailer of The True Cost here: