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Feria Urbana

Atypical Duds

For a city that claims to embrace being an individual, one certainly doesn't get that impression by seeing what folks are wearing these days. What happened to style and doing something unique? Well luckily, there is Feria Urbana.

The brainchild of Darcy Shapiro, a native of Cleveland who has been living in San Francisco (off and on) for the last 10 years, Feria Urbana literally means urban fair. Twice a month- typically the second Thursday evening and last Saturday afternoon of each month- about 20-24 local artists and designers congregate at Canvas Gallery and turn the café/bar into a thriving marketplace. Everything is priced under $250, which is amazing considering some of the clothing (women's and men's), jewelry, home accessories, artwork, photography, and fashion accessories on display. There are no models working the floor, just garment racks and tables set up for your shopping pleasure. And chances are that the person selling the item is actually the designer him/herself- you can't get much more personal than that.

Look for some of the Bay Area's hottest young designers: Zilda by Flavia, Muse SF, Jixiki, Kris Nations, Sylvia Holden, Rebecca Overmann, Paala, and Beaut SF are some of the favorites. Every item is unique and typically produced in limited runs, and each Feria presents a host of varying vendors, so you know you're not going to be at some party on a Saturday night and spot someone wearing the same thing. And don't forget, there are much more than just clothes on display, recent highlights included: retro-styled pillows and gift wrapping paper, lampshades made out of vintage kimonos and several pieces of artful jewelry for elegant and everyday wear.

Shapiro began Feria Urbana after living for a year in South America, during which time she was inspired by the local fashion and design community in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Groups of fashion designers, artists and local residents banded together to promote arts in the community via small 'ferias' in local hot spots on a semi-regular basis. Upon returning to San Francisco, her inspiration quickly blossomed into Feria Urbana, which has flourished since its debut in mid-2003.

There isn't necessarily anything wrong with shopping at brand name standards, it's just not very exciting, nor very San Franciscan. The talented artists and designers who participate in Feria Urbana bring their own unique vision to their goods and wares, and in turn this forum gives them a place to share their ideas. If you are looking for style with a personal statement, handmade garments and other fun accessories, or just want to witness a bustling fashion bazaar in action, then this is the place for you.