For the uninitiated, e-tailer Net-a-Porter has long moved on from simply being a shopping mecca for the style savvy who prefer to cart out their purchases in a few clicks, versus walking into brick-and-mortars. Despite the uber competitive e-universe of retail, there’s a reason why a quick browse on Net-a-Porter’s site will float not only the season’s It items from the heritage big wigs (read: Gucci, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent), but a whole stable of brands that are probably unfamiliar to the casual consumer. That introduction it affords to the proverbial underground scene of fashion is its very edge over the rising number of e-tailers today.
As of last September (2018), they’ve taken things one step further: providing mentorship to promising young designers and their labels under The Vanguard initiative. But as for what this really means for the shopper? Well, it’s a call to sit up and pay attention to the anointed; ones chosen for having proven capable of unique design perspectives in an age where anyone who can screen print a tee is a designer. Below, four names purveying the goods that’ll set you apart.
Need to know: Launched in 2018 and helmed by the its namesake designer who’s an alumni of Phoebe Philo’s Celine and Derek Lam.
What to expect: Given where Do fine-tuned his craft before stepping out on his own, wearability is one thing you’re guaranteed with his eponymous label. But short of boring, Do’s charm lies in his keen sense for slightly twisted classics where the details make all the difference. Case in point: a knit with a large cut-out on its reverse, tailored trousers in sheer fabric, an intentionally “wrinkled” blazer.
Need to know: Two years young with an inaugural collection in 2016, the label’s jewellery is inspired by art and nature, and made by Berlin goldsmiths — a city where its namesake designer is partly based.
What to expect: Arty and intentionally irregularly shaped pieces that straddle the line between objet d’art and jewellery. Manns’ signatures include aubergine and pea-informed designs, their spherical shapes manipulated with elegance and an attention to how they will sit and appear on a person when worn.
Need to know: The brainchild of three creatives who banded together while working at Gucci, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang and Prabal Gurung.
What to expect:: Influenced by work wear — literally what one wears to the office, and not utility clothing — Commission’s garments is what we’d imagine a blase, stylish professional’s wardrobe might look like. A suit cut slightly too large (your boss might prefer the term ill-fitting); retro, almost-gaudy florals paired with a pencil skirt (did you borrow that from your mum?); and the flash of incongruous ruched chiffon (everything’s in the laundry apart from the party clothes). Heads up: pair them with an air of insouciance.
Ratio et Motus
Need to know: Another newbie that just launched last year (2018) with duo Angela Wang and Daniel Li at helm, designs that stand the test of time is the bedrock of Ratio et Motus’ Italian-made fare.
What to expect: An antidote to the high speed conveyer belt of fashion spitting out It bags like candy. Instead of standing out with novel designs and a salad bowl of embellishments and add-ons, classic, uncomplicated and perennial is what you’ll get.
Available on Net-a-Porter.