Help me get my sister the perfect fashion-related gift
November 20, 2007 10:38 AM   Subscribe

How do I buy a fashion-related gift for someone who knows WAY more about it than I do?

I have a twin sister who's in fashion design school in San Francisco. She's a whiz with a sewing machine, makes clothes/curtains/bags etc for herself and friends all the time, and teaches sewing classes. She loves Project Runway, and her dream is to one day open an environmentally-conscious, green boutique. She's 26, if that matters.

For Christmas, I'd love to get her something related to all this, but it just feel way over my head. I don't mind spending a little bit of money. She has a sewing machine and a dress form, and a few great books. Are there any (good) books on green-friendly fashion? Any fashion designers out there who have recommendations, on eco-fashion-related gifts or otherwise? Thanks!
posted by ORthey to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How about a Serger
posted by zeoslap at 10:47 AM on November 20, 2007

How about a gift certificate to a great fabric store? Whatever the Mood fabrics of San Fran is?
posted by KAS at 10:48 AM on November 20, 2007

Subscription to a high fashion magazine, this is what I got for my friend at London College of Fashion. It comes in extremely handy to have an issue of Vogue because she will need to keep up with these kinds of things.

Also whenever I'm in a charity shope (read thrift store if american) I pick up whatever old, retro fashion books there are for her.

Stuck for the green thing though.
posted by Neonshock at 10:50 AM on November 20, 2007

Unfortunately, I think the answer is that you don't. It's darned near impossible to buy gifts for experts related to the subject of their expertise, even if you yourself were an expert on the same subject, because being an expert makes people extremely picky. Unless she gives you a specific shopping list, you are unlikely to give her something she would enjoy as much as she would enjoy something wholly unrelated to her interest in fashion, in an area where you can exercise your expertise.

Since you say she's interested in the environment, how about something related to that interest, separate from her interest in fashion? That way, you don't run into the expert problem, but you're still getting her something related to something she loves.
posted by decathecting at 10:51 AM on November 20, 2007

Speaking as a crafter myself, you might just want to ask her what she wants or where she shops for fabric and supplies. Shopping for creative people is easy because they always enjoy receiving supplies, but tricky if you don't know what their favorite materials are.

If you can, and if you don't need to completely surprise her, ask for a list of things she would like to receive or that she would use - you don't have to get her exactly what's on the list, but you can kind of go from there, maybe go to a fabric store or boutique and see if the salespeople have any good suggestions based on that list.

Alternately, maybe you could give her a good book or two about opening a small business, especially if you can find one targeted to a young/indie/green audience. I don't have any specific recommendations, but I'm sure other posters will.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:53 AM on November 20, 2007

How about a gift certificate to a great fabric store? Whatever the Mood fabrics of San Fran is?

That would be Britex. Chances are good the school she's attending is pretty close.
posted by fishfucker at 10:56 AM on November 20, 2007

mag subs are a great suggestion too. My gf is in the fashion industry and there's always a lot of these scattered around the house. Out of those, my personal favorite is Nylon; it seems to have less ads and more interesting articles than Vogue, plus it skews a little younger/less mainstream.
posted by fishfucker at 10:59 AM on November 20, 2007

I'd suggest a book or even periodical that would give her more than a surface understanding of environmental issues or the "fair trade" movement (in quotes to set it off as a term, not derogatorily).

She's an expert on fashion, but she's probably not yet an expert on either of these issues. She probably knows what most people know from reading news and/or magazine articles, but having a deeper understanding of the issues will help her have a more solid foundation both for her future business and for actually benefiting these causes.
posted by amtho at 11:01 AM on November 20, 2007

I whole heartedly second a gift certificate to Britex, and I sound a bit like your sister. The serger idea is a great one as well, if she doesn't already have a serger.

Another option could be to offer to buy her a domain name and web hosting if she is thinking about opening up her own online store to sell her creations.
posted by infinityjinx at 11:30 AM on November 20, 2007

Response by poster: I love the idea of a fashion magazine subscription!

These are great answers so far, guys. I love AskMe.
posted by ORthey at 11:34 AM on November 20, 2007

If she likes making buttons, there are button maker sets that start at $320. I played with one at a Timbuk2 store party and it was great fun. It makes buttons out of any scrap paper. Could also be a nice way for her to make some money via Etsy while in school.
posted by junesix at 2:14 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

If she's a texture freak, then how about some organic bamboo sheets. They're meant to be a great alternative to cotton, with a really great drape.
posted by kjs4 at 5:37 PM on November 20, 2007

If you're going to do a magazine, maybe one of the foreign editions would be interesting, like French or Italian Vogue.
posted by sugarfish at 6:45 PM on November 20, 2007

I don't know your sister's sense of humor, but I think something like the Versace Barbie would go over well.
posted by mjbraun at 11:22 AM on November 22, 2007

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