New year, new you, new wardrobe? Why not, eh – with the bulk of us under house arrest, there’s little else to do but shop online with the renewed vigour of Joe Wicks after his first turmeric shot. We’re all craving a different look right now, ready to stockpile a mass of going-out clothes to get us dreaming of ‘socialising’, an archaism rendered obsolete by there being absolute fuck-all to do.
To help get your ever-discerning eye and impeccable taste watching and salivating over the best new fashion, we’ve come up with a list of fast-rising brands and designers. Whether you’re a sneaker-head, runway-wannabe or eco-warrior, we’ve got you covered. You can thank us later: and your wallet can send a dirty look in our direction.
If you keep up with any fashion awards lists, then you’ll likely have seen Priya Ahluwalia’s eponymous fashion house. From the LVMH 2020 Prize (jointly received) to places on Gucci, MATCHES and Forbes lists, this London-based label is shaking-up the menswear world via Indian-Nigerian influences and joyriding the current 70s revival.
Tone-wise, it’s a little like something from a pastry chef would cook-up: decadent shades of chocolate, creams and oranges, with equal measures of Guzzini and Gabicci folded in. Add an impartiality for patchwork, colour-block panels and harking back to the founder’s roots, and you’ve got one of the most exciting menswear labels in the world right now.
Having ‘Executive Director at The North Face’ on your CV right now is pretty much like holding a master keypass for the hotel called Fashion, so it’s no shock that Jean Sung is catching eyeballs right now for her own creations.
EDIT+ is right on the money when it comes to current trends. It’s a genderless streetwear brand for those with a gung-ho attitude, with more technical features and utilitarian touches than you can shake a removable panel at. Every piece is designed to be worn in myriad ways, with its hero piece the Saturday Sunday Hoodie featuring a detachable hood and strip-off stripes on the sleeves.
What makes our interest particularly piqued, though, is Sung’s green-fingered approach to production. Manufactured in a smart design factory in Seoul and using locally-sourced recycled and upcycled fabrics in every piece, it’s a streetwear brand for today – whatever the hell that is right now.
We can’t get enough of what KAI COLLECTIVE are doing right now. Started by fashion blogger Fisayo Longe (who also models for the brand), it’s a sustainable womenswear brand that galvanises confidence and a cult-like following. Rich, tactile silks flow into cascading velvet silhouettes and swirling patterns, rendering a style that’s gorgeously dreamy.
If you need any more convincing, Beyonce (as in, Beyonce) name-checked it in her list of Black-owned businesses to support. KAI also collaborate with pattern designers to create one-off pieces, and are committed to reusing fabrics to cut-down on waste. Plus, each capsule runs from XXS (UK 4) to XXXL (UK 20), ensuring everyone can get involved. Can you tell we’re obsessed?
Slam Jam boldly claim that they were ‘born to serve the underground before the term streetwear even existed’, which is pretty much bang on. Starting in 1989, it was at the absolute vanguard of hypebeast-worthy clobber, and, to be honest, still is. A list of the brands it stocks will give you a strong idea of what we’re talking: A-Cold-Wall*, Stussy, Yeezy, Off-White, Stone Island…
Anyway, they’ve literally just dropped their very first own collection, which you could probably argue has been over thirty years in the making. Titled (UN)CORPORATE UNIFORMS, it simultaneously draws on decades of experience and the things getting people off right now. Three pieces form the first ‘uniform’, emblazoned with Slam’s upside-down ‘A’ logo. Cop these and you’ll be able to glide from DIY to club, no change needed.
Portland-based brand Bare Knuckles is for those who like their music grungy and their whisky neat. Frayed edges, distressed fabrics and a love of all things Americana are aplenty in all five of its collections, but its latest is the best. Featuring Westernwear influences and bootcut (!) denim jeans, it’s a thrifty throwback to kitsch diners and twangy dive bars.
Madly, it was only launched locally in 2018 by Cole McBride and Jacob Keller, but has now been spotted on a coterie of big names in the US (and even crept its way onto Jimmy Fallon). ‘More fashion, less hype’ it promised in an old bio. The first half is definitely true, but, perhaps serendipitously, they’re not going to be able to avoid the latter.
Another recipient of the LVMH prize, Thebe Magugu is a designer to keep two eyes on. His self-titled South African brand not only has one of the best websites we’ve seen for ages (it’s ecommerce turned encyclopedia), but also is filled with bold, deeply-hued clothes inspired by everything from his ancestors’ traditional blankets to his aunt’s corrugated iron roof.
Unsurprisingly, its luxury fabrication is matched with equally ‘luxury’ prices – but the sheer richness of narrative and thought behind each item earns its high price point. There are inklings, too, of Magugu’s brand reaching into other areas: its Faculty zine is a dynamic dispatch telling the stories of South Africa’s diaspora, while its ‘Extracurricular’ section aims to support initiatives via more accessible pieces.
An cocktail of velour, velvet and verve, Peachy Den’s ethos is to remain playful at all times via its jumpsuits, pants and tops. Isabella Weatherby’s turned the surface style of Juicy Couture into something responsibly made, seventies-inspired and boutique, so not really that JC at all (maybe it’s just the pink velour that made us think).
The clue’s in the name when it comes to silhouettes: the pieces ‘elegantly embrace the peachy figure’ via cosy, satin fits, with quality, small-scale production ensuring that you’ll be wearing the pieces from dawn until dusk for years to come.