A Former Fashion Editor Has Created a Marketplace for the Luxury Finds From Her World Travels

Melissa Ventosa Martin puts the emphasis on the process — and brings the world to your closet.

A black and white lifestyle fashion image of a woman wearing a sweater and skirt, lying on a stone wall
Photo: Jai Odell/Courtesy of Old Stone Trade

More brands (and consumers) are recognizing the environmental costs of fast fashion, but the statistics are still shocking: in this country, the average person discards more than 80 pounds of clothing annually, a vast majority of which is either buried or burned. And manufacturers themselves are responsible for inconceivably more waste, overproducing new pieces by up to 40 percent and throwing away millions of tons of unworn clothing each year.

Combatting this crisis is a raison d'être for upstate New York–based stylist Melissa Ventosa Martin. For her, stocking a sustainable closet means changing our perception of luxury — avoiding waste, investing in quality, and understanding why things cost what they do. And as a former editor at Departures, T Magazine, and, once upon a time, Travel + Leisure, she knows that in many parts of the world, small-scale artisanship is still alive and well.

Her latest project is Old Stone Trade: an online marketplace that works with a global array of artisans and independent ateliers where most items — traditional lace from Croatia, boutique fragrances from San Antonio — are hand-made to order. "I think it's really important for consumers to understand what they're paying for," she explains. "With us, everything is traceable." Take the $395 wool sweaters from An Púcán, a knitting specialist in Ireland's Aran Islands. "You know where the yarn coming from a certain farm in Galway. And when you order the sweater, the woman who's coordinating is hiring the knitter. You're really paying for that service, for the month it takes to make it. We want to show the value in these things."

Ventosa Martin connected with these makers mostly through word of mouth. "I was lucky to be able to travel so much for work, and someone would say to me, 'Oh, there's this tiny boot shop in Argentina,' or I would hear about a tailor in Italy from an editor who heard about it from another editor." She loved wearing the clothes she acquired on the road, noticing that those were the pieces she was packing most often — and the ones fellow industry folks would usually comment on. The OST site has profiles, essays, and photographs to illuminate the people and stories behind each piece. Ventosa Martin hopes to one day be able to set up travel experiences for clients: "I feel more of a connection to shopping when I meet the people behind the products," she says. "It's more joyful."

Read on to learn more about some of the Old Stone Trade makers.

Two photos showing items from Old Stone Trade, including a kilt and a poncho
From left: Acme Atelier kilt, $1,750; Priah poncho, $1,850. Maxime Poiblanc. Set Styling: Chloe Daley

Acme Atelier

Andrea Chappell studied at Central St. Martins and the Royal College of Art before heading back home to Scotland's Moray Coast, where she learned traditional kiltmaking at the renowned Keith Kilt School. She cuts and stitches each Acme Atelier piece entirely by hand; the style at left is made with fringed Romney tweed and customizable linings, straps, and buckles.

Priah

Each piece from this Colombia-based collective, founded by designer Juanita Garcia, is hand-crocheted by women artisans in the mountain town of Boyacá. For OST, Priah created a poncho, known locally as a ruana, made from dead-stock Loro Piana cashmere, accented with silk inspired by the fields and flowers of the region's native potatoes.

Two items from Old Stone Trade, including a handmade quilt and a white chemise
From left: Emma Mooney Pettway house-top quilt, $7,500; Injiri tie-front chemise, $390, and petticoat, $475. Maxime Poiblanc. Set Styling: Chloe Daley

Emma Mooney Pettway

Emma Mooney Pettway is a third-generation quilter from Gee's Bend, the historic African-American quilting community outside Selma, Alabama, where women have been passing down these techniques since the 18th century. Her quilts are made using only vintage and reclaimed textiles. Pettway also offers a bespoke service, creating custom quilts from a customer's own heirloom fabrics.

Injiri

At her Jaipur-based company, Injiri, textile artist Chinar Farooqui honors South Asia's rich legacy of hand weaving, working with master weavers across the region to revive site-specific techniques. The chemise-petticoat set pictured above is made with white muslin — once a famous export of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Hand embroidery can be added on request.

A version of this story first appeared in the April 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline Taking It Slow.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles