There were the miniskirts of ’60s feminism. Futuristic dresses in the decade of the global space race. The boom of normcore as recession hit the noughties. As history has put forth manifold, fashion is a metronome of the times. Today, we’re served an endless buffet of options — affordable and on-the-pulse, pricey and hype alike — that can date as quickly as yesterday’s Instagram stories. Coupled with the rising awareness towards global warming, we glean a movement towards being hyperaware of what we put on our backs gaining momentum.
And it’s not just a storied monogram that can tip the scales. A designer’s life story, a label’s sustainable source of fabrics, and a brand’s responsible blueprint of its future in retail for instance, makes all the difference. Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director at Net-a-Porter that’s in its sophomore year of mentoring fledgling labels under its The Vanguard programme, says, “We look for brands that have a unique brand story and a distinct and visual design.” She continues,“It is super important to help [young brands] not only stay on their creative paths, but find a way to grow their business in a responsible way, to help build successful and sustainable brands.”
Amidst a new generation of designers and labels that have already begun to shape the future of fashion — from the manner and pace in which we consume, to the industry’s footprint on the environment — we spotlight four that will stop you mid-scroll on Instagram, and whose holistic brand propositions deserve that double-tap (and more).
LE 17 SEPTEMBRE
As a self-taught designer, Eunhye Shin’s aesthetically unisex and pared-back pieces converge on one simple objective: dressing women who, like her, are drawn towards classics edited with a contemporary twist.
I AM INSPIRED BY… fabrics. Just like the saying that the best ingredients make the best food, I believe good fabrics make good clothes. Before starting to draw each design, I lay out all the fabrics that I’ve carefully selected from the market. I then start picturing how I can transform them into one final piece. This moment I have with each fabric gives me so much inspiration and shapes for the theme for each collection. This is extremely important because Le 17 Septembre’s pieces are so minimalistic that the fabric itself has to stand out on its own.
I WANT MY CLOTHING TO MAKE YOU FEEL… the way I do. When I design, I always try to draw pieces I identify with and that I would like to wear, so that those [who] share the same taste and style can find what they’re looking for.
I FEEL JOY WHEN… we have unique ideas and are able to bring them to life beautifully.
THIS SPECIAL PIECE IS… inspired by the lines and colours of traditional Korean traditional clothes and architecture. I always try to reflect that in my designs.
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HEAD OF DESIGN (ELLIOT ATKINSON), CREATIVE DIRECTOR (SUZANNE LIV), CEO & FOUNDER (WILLIAM LUNDGREN), AND COO (VERONIKA KANT)
Driven by the love for Mother Earth and inspired by inimitable female artists, BITE Studios — a collective of four — serves up the fashion definition of longevity with environmentally and socially responsible practices, and forever pieces.
THE CORE OF OUR LABEL IS… best described as clothing ‘By Independent Thinkers for Environmental progress’, hence the acronym BITE. We wanted to offer an alternative brand to people who, like us, believe in the urgency to fight climate change and don’t want to compromise when it comes to the clothes we wear. Every piece is designed to last, and they all serve a purpose and feel luxurious.
ECO-FRIENDLY ISN’T JUST A BUZZWORD BECAUSE… environmental and social responsibility is ingrained in our process, beginning with sourcing and developing new materials. All of our styles are made with natural organics or recycled certified fibres. We work together with our suppliers to develop high-quality organic silk, cotton, wool, linen as well as recycled polyester and innovative fabrics (bio-vegetable leather). We have recently used recycled PET from ocean plastic to develop a polyester material which we plisse pleat and print — a style is soon available on Net-a-Porter!
We also offer a buy-back on pieces, re-collecting used styles which we re-design and curate as a secondary offering alongside the main collections.
WE ARE INSPIRED BY… predominantly female artists and tastemakers from the 20th and 21st century. For FW’19 Collection 4, Peggy Guggenheim, Lee Miller, Sarah Lucas, Meret Oppenheim and Gillian Wearing were some of our muses.
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Returning to the art of handmade accessories, the beauty of Naturae Sacra’s bags is its organically fi nished handles — just like its design inspiration that looks to the wild things that grow to nature’s whim.
WE ARE INSPIRED BY… modern art, interior design and nature’s fluid forms. These unique forms are particularly visible in the shapes of the bags’ handles that can be considered Naturae Sacra’s signature shapes. They can represent the age lines of a tree, unique stones, plants, and even the singular cell forms.
OUR BAGS ARE HANDMADE BY… female artisans, and we want to help women who need to work from their homes by asking them to be a part of Naturae Sacra. The resin handles are made with a sustainable approach in which the natural characteristics of the resin and each artisan’s technique make every handle completely unique. Every bag is polished by hand — with natural polishes such as olive oil — and doesn’t use industrial machines.
WE AIM TO CREATE… unique and stylish pieces that support not only the local economy, but also the talented female artisans in Turkey.
OUR IDEA OF TIMELESSNESS IS… creating bags that can be worn over the years. We imagine our grandmas carrying Naturae Sacra bags when they were younger, and we believe that our grandchildren will love them too.
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The Sant’s curiously-shaped — yet minimalistic — range of bags is a result of an artful distillation of architecture, sculpture and the Japanese culture. Beautifully ruched handles and origami-like folds are amongst its design signatures.
I AM INSPIRED BY… culture, art and tradition. The bags are the result of my interpretation of the contrasts that define the Japanese culture. Opposites such as modernism and tradition, luxury and simplicity, can go hand-in-hand, and I want to express these values.
THE PIECES ARE MADE BY… artisans in Ubrique, a small-town manufacture that is known as the cradle of handcrafting in Spain. They work with unique materials and traditional tools and hold a lifetime of experience in the leather sector. The whole creation and development process of making a bag may take several months of hard work.
A BAG IS NOT JUST AN ACCESSORY BECAUSE… it gives the outfit its ultimate personality and finishing touch. When choosing a bag, a woman identifies with the values of the brand, and it then projects her personality, lifestyle and taste. I think that even if you’re completely dressed, you can feel naked without your bag!
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This article was first seen in ELLE Singapore’s November issue.