The fashion world is bursting at the seams with already-established labels that blur the line between designer and corporate brand. However, 2014 seems to be the year to watch out for the younger generation of designers. From those emerging from out of the internship shadows to those who are branching out on their own after years of veteran experience with major brands, emerging designers are stepping into the spotlight.
Wherever they are based (Paris, New York or Sydney), these 15 designers have become the best, the brightest and the future of fashion—and are definitely worth your close attention.
1. Jonathan Liang
Hailing from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, designer Jonathan Liang launched his Paris-based eponymous label in 2012. Since then, he’s expanded his presence across South East Asia, Europe and now the United States with online retailer TheCools.com. Liang’s designs display impeccable workmanship and Italian crafting while evoking pure femininity and effortless luster.
2. Marissa Webb
Given that her first job was at Ralph Lauren and she later spent 10 years designing for J.Crew, Marissa Webb is far from a new designer in the fashion scene. However, since Webb just recently launched her eponymous line in 2013, we’ll say this veteran is definitely a must-follow designer, especially with her prim-and-proper yet casually chic collection of clothing.
3. Karolyn Pho
With her unique point of view and distinctly hard-to-miss branding, Karolyn started her career in the fashion scene styling celebrities in her hometown of Los Angeles before launching her eponymous line in 2012. Her Fall/Winter 2014 collection combined a must-see effortlessness with sexy androgynous-chic aesthetics.
Having only graduated from Milan’s Istituto Europeo di Design three years ago, Georgine Ratelband launched her eponymous line with vibrant confidence, elegant femininity and high-end fabrics. In February 2014, GEORGINE secured her place as an emerging designer with her elegance-meets-androgyn debut NYFW Fall/Winter 2014 runway show.
Though February 2014 marked this Los Angeles-based label’s second time to present during NYFW, from what we’ve seen, Skingraft’s edgy-cool vibes so far are only the beginning of what might be in store for founding designer Jonny Cota.
6. Alder New York
Founded in 2011 by designers (and friends) David J. Krause and Nina Zilka, Alder New York combines thoughtful, practical designs with function and humor. Made locally, this line of menswear and natural apothecary goods by the talented duo maintains a witty design aesthetic, and we can’t wait to see more of it in the future.
Audra Noyes evokes French craftsmanship with American sportswear for her eponymous label, Audra. Still within in its first year, this young designer has a lot of experience to build on, having worked for Galliano and Lanvin. Her designs are romantic, playful and strong —and have definite staying power for the years to come.
8. William Okpo
New York-based cool kids (and sisters) Darlene and Lizzy Okpo have received high praise since their line, William Okpo, debuted on the shelves of Open Ceremony in fall 2010. Keen designs mix with hip vibes for a look you’d not be surprised to see on Solange Knowles (who happens to be a close friend of the sisters).
9. Hernan Lander
Though he hasn’t presented a collection at New York Fashion Week since fall 2013, this season has seen the return of Parsons graduate and former Donna Karan staffer Hernan Lander. Having started his collection in 2008, this designer-to-watch creates womenswear with body-conscious yet geometric and asymmetric shapes and silhouettes.
Sydney-raised designer duo Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin’s label TOME might already be three years old, but extra-attentive eyes are now due to follow this line since being named a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund womenswear finalist last summer.
11. Rebecca Vallance
Another Australian designer worth watching, Rebecca Vallance and her eponymous line take on whimsical womenswear subtly with classic tailoring and unique textures. A former fashion publicist, Vallance started her line in 2009 and has since shown her designs at New York Fashion Week.
12. Rosie Assoulin
Rosie Assoulin first joined the scene with her debut collection for resort 2013. The 28-year-old designer has demonstrated an uncanny ability to produce top-notch oversize, sculptural pieces with sophisticated dressed and suiting. She’s currently nominated for the 2014 CFDA Fashion Award, along with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang. Regardless of the outcome, this will be a big step for the newcomer— and an even larger leap for her career.
Based in Brooklyn, Harbison was launched in 2013 by Charles Harbison. Though his potential has become abundantly clear during his previous work with introducing some major trends (like fun baseball caps and menswear-inspired trousers), the future holds a lot of possibilities for this talented up-and-comer.
14. Noir Noir
Combine hyper-realistic imaging with both art and fashion and you might come up with the love child that is Noir Noir. From T-shirts and sweatshirts to all-over printed caps and jackets, this emerging brand-to-become-obsessed-with has been distributing its simple yet spectacularly intriguing designs since 2012.
Malibu-based designer Katharine Polk may have only debuted her lined February 2012, but since then the young label has garnered the attention of the young Hollywood elite, including Lily Collins, Selena Gomez and Lucy Hale. This designer’s loot incorporated midi skirts, boxy crop tops and sheer layering for spring 2014.