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There’s no better feeling than introducing someone to something cool — and that’s doubly true when it comes to fashion. While anyone can walk into a Zara or H&M and find an on-trend shirt or a new pair of shoes, it often takes some real digging to discover emerging fashion brands doing something different. Such a discovery makes you want to scream it from the rooftops, right?
In fact, the industry has transformed so much in the last year that most brands no longer need a stamp of approval from a big department store to make it big. Instead of using traditional means to garner attention, they use their direct line to a prospective customer base on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok to pick up steam. That means the product truly has to stand out — and photograph well. That’s definitely the case with Helmstedt, a brand out of Copenhagen that takes an artful approach to clothing, or Aisling Camps, a Brooklyn-based designer with a talent for creating quality knitwear pieces that feel particularly special.
Check out these 23 emerging brands, spanning fashion and accessories, that you should start shopping ASAP.
Kingsley Gbadegesin, the genderless brand’s namesake designer, is a first-generation Nigerian-American working to advance the liberation of Black, queer and POC communities. Not only does he have experience working at labels like Versace, Celine and Loewe, but his line of fun tanks and dresses with imaginative cut-outs will have people stopping you on the street.
Shop: White “Race Her” Ribbed Halter Tank, $180
This quirky brand out of Istanbul makes fun separates, like this pillow-quilted bra top.
Shop: Cult Form Yorgan Black Bra, $190
It shouldn’t be that difficult to make a quality hoodie, right? But finding one with the right proportions, the perfect material and a subtle-yet-attractive logo proves downright impossible. But Blur 1.0, a brand out of Korea making great separates with a twist, nails it.
Shop: Blur Edition Hoodie In Melon, $125
Launched in 2018, Lexxola’s sunglasses quickly caught the attention of Kaia Gerber, Sofia Richie and a whole slew of influencers — and its easy to see why. The label’s chic, blue and orange-tinted frames feel singularly nostalgic.
Shop: Lexxola Damien Sunglasses, $265
Made in L.A. and designed in Bangkok, Tank Air makes simple ready-to-wear separates with a twist.
Shop: Tank Air Mai Thai Shirt, $220
As founders Rob Tilbury and Tess Corvaia put it, “We just want to create the items we wish you could already buy.” The brand’s ’90s-inspired genderless separates toe the line between trendy and timeless — just look at this black silk shirt to see what I mean.
Shop: I Dream For You Silk Shirt, $269
This emerging brand out of the UK’s printed separates are all over Instagram — and it’s easy to see why.
Shop: Elliss Elliss Elliss Activist Trouser, $182
Designer Aisling Camps has a such distinct talent in the knitwear space that it’s a wonder she’s not a household name. Her ability to reimagine something like a long-sleeve sweater into a sheer plisse rib-knit piece of art is majorly impressive.
Shop: Aisling Camps Mist Turtleneck, $345
These days, there’s nothing more valuable than finding the perfect pair of sweats. LHLL’s cozy separates (think crewnecks, tees and joggers) fit great while still feeling appropriate to wear out of the house too.
Shop: LHLL Black Joggers, $90
2020 was the year of the nap dress — and Salter House’s are a very, very solid option. Priced at under $100, this nightdress has a ruffled collar and lace paneling. Pair yours with jeans during the day, if you’re feeling up for leaving the house.
Shop: Salter House Sally Night Dress, $80
Shortlisted semi-finalist of the prestigious LVMH Prize 2020, Helmstedt’s aesthetic is joyful in ways that American fashion brands often sidestep. Founder and creative director Emilie Helmstedt hopes to create wearable art that transcends the traditional boundaries of a regular ol’ T-shirt. Take one look at this silk button down and you’ll see what I mean.
Shop: Helmstedt Kanta Shirt, $311.76
Made in Los Angeles by skilled workers making a living wage in a safe environment, Eliana Gil Rodriguez’s namesake line puts ethical sustainability first. But design is a very, very close second.
Shop: Gil Rodriguez Tour De France Short, $62
A slow knitwear brand crafted in the UK and Ireland, &Daughter celebrates quality by using the finest 100% natural yarns, sourced locally from expert spinners and makers. Even better: This sweater vest is majorly on-trend right now.
Shop: & Daughter Bonnie Tank, $410
Launched in 2018 by Lauren Bucquet, the direct-to-consumer line of shoes isn’t just filled with high-quality pieces in smart designs — they’re also just fun to wear.
Shop: Labucq Boomer Nero, $390
If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-wear black handbag, listen up: Sonya Lee designer Stephanie Sonya Ibbitson creates elevated leather accessories that redefine what “simple” can mean.
Shop: Sonya Lee Maya Bag, $286
Though the brand is still in its infancy, each piece from Etei feels supremely on-brand. This wrap shirt is versatile, timeless and of-the-moment all at once.
Shop: Etei Bia Wrap, $69
Though ODP was founded in 2014, the brand has enjoyed a more quiet stateside success. Its collaboration with model Arizona Muse caught the attention of editors and influencers — and the brand’s sustainable approach to leather goods helped hold it.
Shop: Officina Del Poggio x Arizona Muse Bottle Bag, $360
This Paris-based brand’s name comes from the French conjugation “Elle aime,” which means “She Loves.” Elleme offers a veritable collection of easy-to-style handbags and shoes.
Shop: Elleme Span Sandals in Lilac, $305
Hyer Goods founder Dana Cohen spent more than a decade in corporate fashion, but quickly grew sick of how wasteful the industry can be. With Hyer Goods, she uses the “waste” — factory scraps of leather and other fabrics— to create gorgeous, minimal handbags, beanies and face masks.
Shop: Hyer Goods Bucket Bag in Olive, $210
Founded by stylist Ryan Gale, By Colby offers a mix of loungewear — and a veritable selection of ‘90s-inspired vintage.
Shop: By Colby Vintage Leather Pants, $90
This made-to-order brand is based in France, and creates easy separates in fun prints, like this lilac-and-yellow floral jean.
Shop: Shop Balou Anatole Jeans, $310
Fashion veteran Jamie Haller just launched her namesake brand of leather slippers, which are made in Italy from unlined Italian calfskin using old world Sacchetto construction. They’re available in two colors.
Shop: The Atha Slipper Black, $390
Founded in 2019 with the belief that clothing should be reasonless, Caes creates high-quality timeless separates that still manage to feel special.
Shop: Caes Second Skin Turtleneck Top, $170
If you enjoyed this story, check out these 17 gender-neutral staples to shop right now.
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