When you put on a stylish jacket made of rayon, vegan leather, or even recycled plastic, are you sure you’re helping the planet more than if you bought one made of animal leather? In this journey down a very twisted rabbit hole, Alden Wicker—a frequent writer, blogger, and speaker on sustainable fashion—finds answers that may not be particularly comfortable for the animal rights movement.
By ALDEN WICKER
In Burano—a tiny island four miles from the city of Venice—the ancient art of ultra-fine, hand-sewn lace somehow remains alive. And so does the equally ancient culture surrounding it. Our correspondent visits with the master craftswomen of Burano to learn their history, their secrets, and the prospects for their future.
By ERLA ZWINGLE
One would think that the invention of digital lettering for our commercial signs—on everything from shops to billboards—was nothing but an industrial step forward. As it’s turned out, yesteryear’s signs, which were all painted by hand, offered a beauty and personality that today’s automated version has been unable to duplicate; more important, a hand-made sign lasts much longer. Our correspondent explores what’s left of the old tradition, and stumbles on small but lively seeds of revival.
By LAURA FRASER
Photography by ANDREW SULLIVAN
In a small town outside Torino, Italy, the age-old Vermouth giant, Martini & Rossi has turned this beverage into a model of what might be called industrial spirits craftsmanship. Our correspondent goes visiting, then returns stateside to watch a small one-man shop create the modern artisanal version. What are differences, and why do they matter?
By LAURA FRASER
The word artisanal has become so shopworn that it’s almost devoid of meaning. (To wit: we once saw a pizza outlet on the outskirts of a small town in northern France that was fashioned in the style of an ATM-kiosk under the following sign: “Artisanal Pizza.”) In stark contrast to this sorry state of affairs, we would like to suggest a few items for holiday shopping made by some of the masters we profiled in 2016.
By SHARON TILLEY
The blind spots in the American West’s water systems are in full display in Ventura County, a coastal region of southern California that happens to hold the most lucrative farmland in the state. Equally abundant, and somewhat in progress, are opportunities for enlightenment. Which path will prevail?
By CRAWFORD COATES
Since the communist revolution of 1959, Cuba has been on an economic rollercoaster. The country has lurched from dependency to self-sufficiency, in a bubble of isolation where technological time stopped. Our correspondent visits the artists and self-taught engineers who have kept Cuba running throughout its bizarre ride.
Story and photography by ROB WATERS
There are many prized vintages from Valpolicella, a postcard-perfect town near Verona, Italy, known for its rich, slightly sweet wines. Over the years, however, as many of these wines have gotten only sweeter, one vineyard, Bertani, has remained true to the old traditions. The result: a complex, unusually balanced wine called Amarone. Our wine correspondent sets out in search of its secret.
By TIM TEICHGRAEBER
OK, so some of them look silly—brown and fat with oversized joints, like a high-school basketball player who has sprained every limb and wrapped each elbow and knee with ace bandages. But Craig Calfee, the respected (and highly successful) carbon frame builder, swears by the strength, flexibility, and ecological value of the bamboo bicycle.
Story and photography by JEFF GREENWALD