London's semi-annual fashion week is an excellent hunting ground for brilliant new designers. This month's Spring/Summer 2018 presentations highlighted new talents who've emerged in the last couple of years.
Womenswear designer Roberta Einer launched her eponymous label in September 2015. The Tallinn, Estonia native worked as an assistant designer at Balmain following fashion college. For her SS18 collection, Einer has used traditional couture techniques in a vibrant, modern way and added embroidery and embellishments to jackets, trousers and skirts.
Joshua Kane worked for three prestigious British houses (Burberry, Jaegar and Paul Smith) before setting up his own label in 2014. "Fantasy", his SS18 collection, was presented with theatrical flare at the London Palladium. Theatre aside, the collection was strong and included dozens of new menswear and womenswear looks, from pink, mauve and burgundy tartans to satin jackets and trousers in bold colors.
theo vii, established in 2015, breaks down gender barriers by combining menswear and womenswear. The three founders of the label, Yui Ding, Miao Ho and Tan Xue Yi took their inspiration for their SS18 collection from Massai culture. Silhouettes are loose and flowing with sheets of cloth in stripes and checks, wrapped around the body. Red, a key Massai color features, along with cobalt blue and monochrome black and white. And this season they've added footwear and accessories.
The founders of Vow London, a new eyewear brand, have over 20 years design experience between them. Their objective is to create innovative luxury women’s sunglasses at an accessible price point and the designs I saw on display at London Fashion Week certainly achieve that. Their designs draw on vintage classics and encompass color trends, cutting-edge shapes and glittering acetates. I first spotted their glasses at last year’s Vogue 100 exhibition at London’s National Portrait gallery and they already have distribution in Fenwicks and House of Fraser as well as on ASOS and Nordstrom online.
Originating in New Delhi, N&S GAIA is a contemporary womenswear label founded by designer Sidharth Sinha in 2013. I am very keen on hearing about new ethical fashion brands so I was immediately drawn to a label that uses upcycling and responsible production and promotes "less is more."In fact the ’N’ and ’S’ in the name stands for Nature and Sustainability. The label’s SS18 collection continues its signature style of colorful flowing silks punctuated by wide legs, exaggerated ruffles, sweeping hems and bold 3D embroidery. Sinha incorporates Dakmanda into the creations– a hand-woven embroidery technique of the Garo tribe in North East India.
Portuguese designer Alexandra Moura showcased her funky new collection for men and women in a Welsh Chapel in downtown London. The designs, influenced by eighteenth-century Portuguese places and manor houses and clothing of the period also have a strikingly modern look. Oversized and fitted pieces are distressed or frayed with laces and pockets. Knits, tulle, brocade, linen and cotton all work to offer a modern urban look with a nod to the past.
London-based footwear brand Malone Souliers was created in 2014 by Roy Luwolt and Mary Alice Malone, a former dressage rider who was on the US Junior Olympic Equestrian Team. With a background in furniture-making, welding, carpentry and upholstery, Mary Alice turned to shoe design following her studies at the London College of Fashion. Her SS18 collection of boots, heels and flats in a variety of shapes, materials and colors was gorgeously presented within a forest scene created in a Mayfair shop. Fans of the brand include Solange Knowles, Lupita Nyong'o and Girls actress Jemima Kirke.
Lunyee is a collaborative art and design project initiated by artist and designers Saini Chan and Joe Weng who are based in Shenzhen, China. Their focus is readymade men’s and women’s fashion that evolves alongside a range of other art and design related activities. Their SS18 collection includes dresses in soft textures, draped asymetrically, with a focus on voluminous proportions.
Good News London footwear brand for men and women deserves special mention. Not only has this east London brand been designing super cool sneakers based on retro Americana and baseball but they have a philanthropic business model whereby they donate hundreds of pairs of sneakers to Syrian refugees who arrive in Europe often wearing only flip flops.
Fashion meets art with Korean womenswear label label Moon Lee. Founded in 2015, Injoo Lee uses organic fabrics featuring beautiful hand dying and intricate painting. Lee is inspired by art, using cloth as her canvas as she fuses modern pattern cutting techniques with traditional Korean textiles of her heritage.
Enlist is a new brand offering menswear, womenswear and eyewear. The brand was founded by Mario Arena and Peter Farrow in 2016, who have more than 30 years’ experience in the manufacturing and wholesale business, having worked with the LVMH group, Thomas Pink, Whistles and House of Fraser throughout their careers. Enlist aims to offer a seasonless wardrobe of everyday essentials for men and women using premium fabrics. Each collection is split into three sections: Entry includes essentials like T-Shirts, Premium offers innovative pieces and Ultra has limited edition, trend-led high fashion pieces.