A crowd at the Urban Air Market. The San Francisco-based festival is branching out to Berkeley and Oakland locations. Photo: Urban Air Market
A crowd at the Urban Air Market. The San Francisco-based festival is branching out to Berkeley and Oakland locations. Photo: Urban Air Market

The Urban Air Market, a festival for local designers, is hosting its first East Bay event in Berkeley on Saturday June 20. The Berkeley market, which has been in the works for nearly ten months, will set up shop on Allston Way adjacent to the weekly farmers market on Center Street.

Vendors hail from across the Bay Area and are independent artists, designers, and curators who use environmentally friendly and sustainable practices to create their products. Repurposed hardware, vintage-style, even products scavenged from landfills and reworked as high-end sustainable goods and fashion, are all markers of a UAM vendor.

Inspecting the wares. Vendors are chosen for both their product and the process that goes into creating it. Photo: Urban Air Market

The expansion of the market to Berkeley was inspired by a trend, noticed by UAM founder Danielle Cohen, of designers and artists leaving San Francisco to set up shop across the bay.

“Many of the creative artist communities have moved over to the East Bay,” Cohen said.

Mandee Banga, the communications manager for UAM, said that the market will bring high fashion to Berkeley, a previously unfilled niche in this laid-back city.

“Berkeley is lacking high-end retail, fashion retail,” Banga said, though “there are a lot of other types of shops.”

Photo: Urban Air Market

The market originated in San Francisco ten years ago and is the largest outdoor design festival in the country. The UAM team carefully curates the stalls at the festival, looking for designers that walk the sustainability walk as well as talking the talk. The 100 or so vendors at each show craft sustainably sourced or recycled material into jewelry, clothes, furniture and more to showcase the fact that shopping is not necessarily wasteful.

“We love the process that goes behind it,” Banga said of the market’s wares.

Banga described the market’s shopping base as “hard-core, eco-friendly environmentalist shoppers” who are attracted by UAM’s focus on sustainable design. “They live that type of lifestyle,” she added.

But the markets, with music, activities, fashion, and curios, attract the whole community.

“Shoppers attend with their kids and dogs,” Cohen said, and what, at first, was a “for artists by artists” event has evolved to include “more serious shoppers,” as well as the artist or the casual passerby.

“It’s everyone,” Banga said.

Eden Teller, a junior at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is a Berkeleyside summer intern. She is majoring in media and cultural studies and minoring in geology.

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Eden Teller is a freelance reporter, writer and amateur gardener. She began reporting for Berkeleyside as an intern in 2013 and continued her career with a B.A. in Media Studies from Macalester College...