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Fashion

Generation Woke: The Young Fashion Labels Redefining Conscious Dressing

Young conceptual labels side-stepping genres, genders and other social norms to usher in a brand new era of conscious dressing.

Art School

Who’s behind it: Londoners Eden Loweth (top) and Tom Barratt, who between them chalked up experience at star emerging labels like Sadie Williams and Grace Wales Bonner before launching theirs (available on cult multi-label retailer H.Lorenzo) in 2017.

Its stand: Non-binary fashion, best encapsulated in their dramatic runway shows that feature a radical, all-ages cast of men, women, and everyone in between to “push forward notions of otherness”.

What that means for the clothes: Their shows might resemble underground raves, but the duo’s refined hand means that their evening-centric designs are as suited for posh soirees – and all body types. (That Vogue.com categorises the brand under menswear, even though skirts dominate their collections, says a lot.) Dresses, which come as slips, slinky off-shoulder numbers and parachute gowns this F/W ’19, are often cut on the bias for greater fluidity and comfort, no matter one’s curves (or lack thereof). A proclivity for polished all-black looks as much as elevated ’90s party gear (this season’s statement finishes include fuchsia brocade, faux croco and all-over gold sequins) also means that there’s indeed something for everyone.

Ludovic De Saint Sernin

Who’s behind it: The Balmain-trained French native who snagged a finalist spot at the 2018 LVMH Prize – a year after establishing his namesake menswear label (available on Matches.com).

Its stand: Gender fluidity – the 28-year-old is leading the charge for the “softboy”, almost effeminate look taking over men’s fashion. Cue tiny lace-up undies (which form a healthy bulk of his burgeoning business); and – for F/W ’19 –“going out” tops (halters, togas, tanks) embellished in crystals and a whole lot of sheerness, all reminiscent of what ’90s supermodels used to party in (Kate, Naomi and co. were an inspiration). Possibly not since Tom Ford’s run at Gucci has unabashed male sexiness been so virile and refreshing.

What that means for the clothes: While they’ve been adapted for the (toned) male form, they look as sensual and scintillating on (toned) women, whom de Saint Sernin regularly includes in his runway cast. Time to hit the gym, ladies.

Botter

Who’s behind it: Paris-based Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh, who started the label in 2017, only to pick up the top gong at the prestigious Hyeres Festival, as well as a finalist position at the LVMH Prize last year. They’ve since been named the new creative directors of Nina Ricci.

Its stand: Ocean protection, particularly from the effects of plastic use. The couple hail from the Caribbean (Botter’s from Curacao; Herrebrugh, the Dominican Republic) – notorious for its marine pollution – so their quirked-out, streetwear-influenced designs have become the lively canvases through which they spread their pro-Mother Earth message. In addition, they favour recycled materials, and cut their fabrics efficiently to help reduce wastage.

What that means for the clothes: Young, masterful tailors with an irreverent eye (Botter trained under Walter van Beirendonck at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts), the duo offers trendy, gender-neutral suits and casual separates alongside arty, in-your-face-loud statement pieces that allude to their eco cause. For F/W ’19, which marks their debut here at Dover Street Market Singapore, these include a plisse top resembling a plastic bag, and trinkets in the form of inflatable dolphins.

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