Every label brings something different
“We chose brands that each have a strong, distinct DNA that’s consistent from season to season. For example, we love Les Reveries because it’s very feminine with a very cool twist. Ruh, the other ready-to-wear label (under the inaugural mentorship programme), is really focused on craftsmanship and is in general anti-trendy: just chic, simple tailoring that’s really well-executed. For shoes, we have Martinez, which has absolutely beautiful, hand-woven leather designs. I love the fact that it’s taken an artisanal, old-world craft and made it so modern. Lastly there’s Gu_de, a Korean handbag label that does really sophisticated, classic pieces that feel very contemporary.”
Why you’ll love Gu_de: Classic functional bags — typically structured and with a top handle — have been trending for the past couple of seasons, and South Korean label Gu_de’s bags fit nicely into the movement. Founder Ji Hye Koo keeps things novel by adding interesting touches such as oversized acrylic chains and unexpected colour schemes. An all-white bag? Instant photo bait material. The end result is polished with just the right amount of design details.
Expect investment pieces that don’t cost a bomb
“(Many emerging labels today) have a really strong sense of dressing for reality, but with a twist. Brands like Rejina Pyo and Brock Collection are all good examples. (The Vanguard section on the website features other up-and-coming brands beyond the four chosen to receive training and guidance from Net-a-Porter’s team every season). We’ve seen that a lot of younger labels also tend to offer craftsmanship and quality materials — as seen in the faux leather pieces by Nanushka (a Hungarian brand known for its trendy yet effortless aesthetic) — at more accessible price points.”
Why you’ll love Ruh: Launched by designer Sonia Trehan in 2016, the label’s grown-up brand of quiet elegance would suit those who adore the likes of The Row and Phoebe Philo-era Celine. Things are further elevated with quality craftsmanship: every piece is made in a family-run factory in Naples. Expect well-cut pantsuits, chic pleather separates and shirts with exaggerated collars.
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It means more options to make a personal style statement
“There’s so much more individuality when it comes to dressing now — women don’t dress head-to-toe in one designer any more. They love the discovery of new designers, and finding things that are different and unique. They don’t necessarily want to wear the same things that their friends are wearing (and that’s what you’ll get under The Vanguard).”
Why you’ll love Les Reveries: Started by New York-based sisters Ai Lyand Wayne Lee, Les Reveries traffics in pretty occasion pieces — think floral dresses replete with ruffles and fluted hems, but with a twist: neon knits and turtlenecks (the brand’s other signature) — layered with the aforementioned pretty things. It’s an unexpectedly clever combination.
The names will become serious (and possibly seriously big) fashion labels
“You can find new brands constantly via Instagram nowadays. You hear stories of brands becoming instant successes overnight on social media. (Because) our buying power and presence is so large, we feel it’s our responsibility to help such designers grow. We have teams all over the world — from buying, marketing, merchandising, business development and so on — and we can give a lot by teaching new brands how to run a business. In a time when fashion is moving at such a fast pace, it’s ideal to create a properly structured programme that can help emerging designers to grow. ”
Why you’ll love Martinez: A year-old footwear label by French-Spanish designer Julien Martinez, the label is known for using a traditional Spanish hand-woven technique to interweave strips of leather together. Paired with his signature metal pin kitten heels, the effect is bucolic made contemporary with a hint of the ’60s.
This story first appeared in Female’s November 2018 issue.