We’re always rooting for the independent up-and-comers and the buzziest names in fashion. And some of our favourite retailers share that similar foresight when it comes to their curation of small indie labels. Take for instance multi-label store Surrender which is stocking hip knit label Alanui and Rokh, the fashion label of former Celine alum Rok Hwang from Sept onwards.
Ditto for Dover Street Market Singapore. The store, which celebrates its first year anniversary with a big bash at its Dempsey Road complex this weekend has been keeping the retail scene exciting with its roster of exciting brands such as Shushu/Tong and streetwear label Doublet which snagged this year’s LVMH Grand Prize recently.
Net-A-Porter shares that same perspective when it comes to its roster of new brands to shop for. This season, the e-tailer has launched a series of capsule pieces with 11 emerging names it’s championing on the site for their distinctive P.O.Vs. Here, a primer of our favourite five cult labels from the group which you need to have on your radar, plus our picks from their Net-A-Porter capsule outing you need to add to cart.
What: The three-year-old Shanghai label started by Lei Liushu and Jiang Yutong that is known for their exaggerated proportions and overtly feminine sensibilities. The duo met in high school and went on to graduate from the London College of Fashion in womenswear design. The label’s name is portmanteau of the designers’ nicknames: Liushu is known by her pet name Shushu, while Yutong goes by the moniker Tongtong.
Why bother: If their deft play on over-the-top volumes and Victorian influences call to mind the cool aesthetic of designers like Gareth Pugh and Simone Rocha, that’s because the designers cut their teeth at these companies during their university days. What makes Shushu/Tong tick, however, is its dark and twisted quirkiness. This might explain why Lane Crawford bought their first collection after graduation. In Singapore, the brand is stocked at Dover Street Market.
Take for instance the F/W ’18 collection which is inspired by uniforms from Chinese schools in the ’40s and public schools in the UK, and the quirky style of female pop culture icons like Peggy Olson from Mad Man and Margot Tenenbaum from The Royal Tenenbaums. Part utilitarian and part playful, the designs feature clean lines with fun details like shoulder straps that riff on the straps of school backpacks and removable clips on outerwear and trousers.
What: Started in 2016 by street style star and Anna Dello Russo’s assistant Carlotta Oddi and her brother Nicolo. The success of this bohemian-chic label truly rests on the popularity of its superstar item: the oversized belted cardigan. In fact, the inspiration for the label was a vintage cardigan that Nicolo bought during a trip to Hawaii. The island’s influence is also reflected in the brand’s name which means “large path” in the Hawaiian language.
Why bother: The fact that their jacquard cardigans are cosy is good enough reason to buy into the brand which makes its debut at Surrender in September. Woven from soft Cariaggi cashmere, each piece is said to take 11 hours to produce.
But we also love how the brand has moved beyond its usual American Southwest and Mexico vibe with its new patterns for Fall. This season, it expands their repertoire to include rock-and-roller designs featuring leopard prints and items like jeans and scarves.
#3: Martina Spetlova
What: Czech designer Martina Spetlova launched her first collection in F/W ’16 and has steadily built a reputation as the eco-friendly designer with feminine but highly experimental silhouettes. The label is stocked at Farfetch.
Though she works predominantly with leather, her practices are respectful of the environment. For instance, she strives to achieve zero waste in the production process by employing machines with new pattern cutting technology that can cut the individual leather panels of her garments in the most energy-efficient way.
The leftover leather pieces from the production process are also donated to fashion students or used to make small goods. Besides that, Spetlova also works with the tannery of Ecco Leather in The Netherlands which is known as one of the world’s most environmentally-conscious tanneries in the world.
Why bother: The designer proves that being ethical and sustainable does no mean you are dressed in boring clothes. This is largely thanks to her striking aesthetic that looks like a cross between the designs of Nicolas Ghesquiere circa his Balenciaga days and the work of Chitose Abe of Sacai. Plus, who doesn’t love a designer who is mindful of and responsible towards the environment?
#4: Lou De Betoly
What: Prior to launching her solo fashion label last year, Berlin-based French designer Lou de Betoly and former Jean Paul Gaultier staffer, was behind the now-defunct German brand Augustin Teboul which she ran with her business partner Annelie Augustin.
Why bother: If highly tactile and avant-garde knits are something you crave, then de Betoly is the designer to know. Her punk-inflicted F/W ’18 collection exemplifies her riotous knack for handwoven knits and embellishments. Think a slashed and spliced with crochet, or a catsuit that combines yarns and fishnets.
What: Co-founded in 2015 by Los Angeleno Sarah Staudinger and her business partner George Augusto.s Prior to setting up her label, Staudinger was fashion director of sustainable clothing and accessories brand Reformation for three years.
In an interview with The Coveteur, she explains that the premise for Staud sprung out from the fact that fashionable clothes can be pricey. Her designs, available on Net-A-Porter, hover around the US$300 (S$4,010) mark. “There was nothing at our price point that felt aesthetically elevated but not over-the-top,” she said.
Why bother: The label is a pro at making easy staples that come with a Palm Springs circa ’50s vibe. Imagine a pink tulle dress that could easily be a vintage redux of nightgowns from the era or a nautical-inspired jumpsuit with grommets and laces on the sides.
Even its popular range of Moreau bucket bags are a modern and fun take on fishnet bags. No surprises then that fans of the label include women like Alexa Chung and Leandra Medine who are known for their fun fashion sensibilities.
What: The Danish label spearheaded by Ditte Reffstrup and Nicolaj Reffstrup since 2009, that’s flying the flag high for Scandinavian fashion now. While most people would associate the aesthetic from this region as starkly minimalist, creative director Reffstrup’s idea of contemporary Danish design as one that is slightly hippie, slightly ’90s-inflected and big on prints and textures – a reflection of her childhood years growing up in a tiny fishing village.
Why bother: Besides the cosy cashmere knits that the brand is known for, it also has a penchant for bright splashes of colour, an eclectic mix of patterns (florals, leopards, etc) and colours. All these mean that the clothes, sold on Net-A-Porter, are perfect for work, party and made for street style. The separates are also great for layering. Think skirts worn with suits and tiered dresses worn like a robe over a toga top and tights.
#7: Rejina Pyo
What: The namesake label of the Central Saint Martins-trained Korean designer, whose award-winning graduation collection featuring sculptural wooden pieces in 2011 was presented at several different exhibitions. Prior to setting up her brand in 2014, the London-based Pyo was the assistant designer for Roksanda Ilincic. The label is stocked on Net-A-Porter.
Why bother: Pyo could very well be the Asian answer to Simon Porte of Jacquemus for her super crafty and experimental eye. Her F/W ’18 collection, for example, comprises items which are all part of the modern woman’s style arsenal today. Cue the long dresses that are cut askew, shirts finished with exaggerated sleeves and cuffs, and jackets that come with oversized pockets and off-centre buttons.
#8: Rixo London
What: The three-year-old fashion label founded by Henrietta Rix and Orlagh Mcclosky who were London College of Fashion schoolmates and former buyers at Asos. The buzzy label, available on Net-A-Porter, is known for its one-of-a-kind handpainted prints which are all created by the designers themselves.
Among our favourites from this season are the whimsical Iris print of the constellations, the Green Psychedelic Spot polka dots, and the blue starfish motif. More recently, the duo added swimwear to their repertoire.
Why bother: This is the brand to know if you’re into vintage-inspired prints and silhouettes that are inspired by ’70s British boho designs. Besides using luxurious fabrics such as silk crepe, georgette and chiffon, what makes the pieces by the duo truly exclusive is the fact that they produce only 50 pieces for any one design that they make.
What: The leather goods label founded by the London-based Nasa Yousefi in 2015. Yousefi got her big break in fashion as a ready-to-wear designer for brands such as Giles Deacon and Christopher Kane. Her true calling, though, is leathermaking. She created one-of-a-kind leather pieces that were used in fashion editorials by photographers from the likes of Hedi Slimane and Steven Klein.
Why bother: Her bags, which are available on Net-A-Porter, are the leather goods answer to the hybrid sneaker phenomenon. That solid graphic edge is evident in every piece she creates, including the brand’s signature Delila bucket bag and Asher camera bag. Indeed, Yousefi’s works are easily distinguishable by their deconstructed leather panels and the exposed gussets and bolts.