Independent Christmas Shopping Events – A review


2017 Update

For our 2017 Christmas Market Guide visit


Alternative Christmas Shopping across the capital  provides the public with a change to buy unique often handmade gifts and to ditch the high street in favour of independent designers and makers supporting local small businesses in the process.

We have visited a wide array of markets and events all over London during this holiday season and blow are the highs and lows of London Independent Christmas Shopping 2015.

First up on November 22nd was the Bust Christmas Craftacular Event, that like it’s Summer Edition, took place at York Hall in Bethnal Green. The market has been taking place since 2008 and is  organized by Bust Magazine, an American women’s pop culture periodical. Having visited the Craftacular’s Summer Edition (read our article here) we were happy to find the same fun atmosphere with over 70 makers, workshops, music and drinks as well as new designers and makers, that included sustainable handmade waxed Canvas Bags by Ciré and a great display of illustrated work by This Way to the Circus. Holly from the Basket Room shared the inspiring story behind their handwoven baskets made by a women’s cooperatives in Kenya, Rwanda, Swaziland and Ghana.

The Basket Room - Craftacular

The London Local team of Peer to peer E-Commerce platform Etsy hosted the Etsy Made Local Event at the Vinyl Factory in Soho which we visited on December 4th. While the central location was a definite plus, the entire experience gave a distinct window browsing feel, due to the setup and limited display space given to each shop and maker. More than a market, Esty Made Local was a promotional event, firstly for the E-Commerce platform itself and secondly for the makers. Many of the makers/sellers however were already household names so that in most cases their social media presence added exposure to the event and not vice versa.

Etsy Made Local London

On December 6th, we visited the London Illustration Fair that took place between December 4th and 6th at the Bargehouse, a four storey warehouse on the South Bank. The busy fair included featured artists, invited exhibitors that included print studios and galleries as well as selected applying artists and a Crafty Fox Market section.

Highlight of the fair was meeting featured french street artist Thierry Noir, credited to being the first street artist to paint the Berlin Wall. The overall quality of work from featured and selected artists was high and talking to the artists the feedback regarding their exposure to publicists and galleries was very good. Some parts of the warehouse however were difficult to navigate due to the high number of visitors, limited space and dimmed lighting, which might have penalized some artists depending on the location of their exhibition space.

Thierry Noir

The Garage Sale at Somerset House presented by the Poundshop featured a great central location and well designed ambiance, but was otherwise disappointing in approach and offering when we visited on Saturday December 12th. While the Sale featured some great prints, the overall lack of information about the designers and products did not make for a very inspirational buying experience. What makes independent shopping different from the high street is that designers and makers generally sell their story, as well as their product and with that element missing especially the cheaper items lost some of their appeal.

Illustrations at the Garage Sale

On the other hand the Barbican Christmas market , visited on Sunday December 13th, featured a very well curated selection of designers, offering a wide range of products and Christmas gift ideas. The markets was less busy than expected, but many regular visitors to the Barbican that were not aware of the market, used the chance for some Christmas shopping.

Mimi Hammill‘s geometric patterns and prints fit right into the Barbican  and received much love from the visitors, as did Chalk Jewelry by London based Designers and Architects Malaika and Hazel. Another highlight for us was discovering VIVE Designs by Sarah King, a range of colourful products in Perspex.

Vive Designs

Last but not least we visited the Christmas Makers Market at the East Village, curated by lifestyle store Earl of East London on their last day Sunday December 20th. While a bit difficult to find for non locals, the market offered a great vibe and lovely makers in a cozy atmosphere, just a stone throw away from a very different shopping experience at the Westfield Stratford City.

We had a great time chatting with the makers who were all very positive about the market experience. Charlotte Lloyd showcased her fun range of textiles designs called Charles of Lloyd, while Briggs+Shears showcased their craftsmanship as well as their minimalist designed leather goods. Earl of East London shared with us their concept behind the market which showcased some of London’s finest artisans.

Charles of LLoyd

In conclusion the various markets and events provided us not only with many gift ideas but with a chance to meet a lot of talented people and to discover their craft.

©Shimeji Creatives 2015


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