The Best of SS19’s New Brands
From Clot to Saks Potts, the SSENSE Editors Highlight the Newcomers
- Text: SSENSE Editors
For SS19, SSENSE picked up over 50 new brands—some legacy, some just emerging. Here, the editors elaborate on 34 of them, offering a backstory and more context as to what makes these newcomers the perfect fit.
An ode to London's Savile Row district—the epicentre of fine tailoring since the early 1800s—Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's dedication to careful craftsmanship and luxurious staple garments may not exactly be new, per se, but as of SS19, it's now available on SSENSE. See our exclusive editorial, "where minimalist meets maximist," with model Coco Moore at Habitat 67 here.
For the Paris-based accessories designer, Stephanie D'heygere, it's all about wearable objects. From cigarettes-turned-earrings to bucket hats-turned tote bags, practicality is proven to be the most sought-after commodity in a moment where multi-hyphenate careers have taken over, and multi-tasking is a must.
From the FW19 Helmut Lang runway to Lady Gaga, Central Saint Martins grad Alan Crocetti is gaining traction. The designer aims to create gender fluid jewelry pieces, taking inspiration from surrealism, science fiction, and architecture.
Founded in 2005 and relaunched in 2016 under the creative direction of Karen Phelps, Goldsign elevates an everyday staple—denim—to an expression of elegance. With silhouettes ranging from tailored to practical, Goldsign prides itself on its recognizably high-grade cotton, and contemporary execution of an American essential.
London-based, CSM graduate A Sai Ta has made a name for himself over the past couple seasons through showing with Fashion East, but also through the Instagram virality of his tie-dyed, cabbage-seamed Hot Wok top. For SS19, SSENSE has picked up a whole range of his impressive designs, but you can read Editor Romany Williams unpack the power of the Hot Wok.
Collina Strada's Hillary Taymour paints a water-colored picture of what modern design can mean through her sentimental references—think "anti-Trump casting statements" and tie-dye tees nodding to self love—and purposeful practice in striving towards sustainability. The New York-based label is one worth getting behind.
Bi-coastal it-girl Alexia Elkaim launched her fashion career by presenting the world with pants that actually fit real bodies. As a self-proclaimed big-bottomed girl, Elkaim founded Miaou in an attempt to remedy the gruelling process of finding pants for a body with curves. And it’s worked—the cult following of her figure-flattering designs continues to grow. For SS19, Miaou goes sport, offering track-suits and sports bras to further accentuate shape.
If five-year-old North West landing a WWD Beauty cover deems her the next leader of pop culture, consider Saks Potts influencer-approved. The label's young founders Cathrine Saks and Barbara Potts have made their way into the mainstream with their playful, dance-inspired designs, creating some of the most covetable pieces of the past few seasons and finding fans in the likes of Selena Gomez and Cardi B.
Founded in 2013, Pyer Moss self-describes as a “mens and womenswear fashion label concerned with building a narrative that speaks about heritage and activism.” Spearheaded by Kerby Jean-Raymond, the label’s designs and ethos of amplifying marginalized communities is heading in a direction we should follow—read about their iconic t-shirt in our 2018 Year in Garments.
This deluxe Italian hiking-boot company has only been around for a few seasons but is already making a name for itself with its sleek, monochrome footwear options. ROA’s designs are a hybrid between performance (they’re all equipped with Vibram soles) and style (they recently collaborated with streetwear label Braindead)—the perfect shoe for a day running around the city or a hike in the hills. You don’t have to be a mountain enthusiast to join the ROA club.
Serapis was a Greco-Egyptian deity believed to bridge the gap between the two cultures in the afterlife—a means of fostering harmony. The same ethos is apparent in the designs of Greek newcomer label, Serapis. A love letter to maritime culture, the four-member design force aims to infuse arts with the shipping industry.
A member of the celebrated Fashion East family, British-Indian designer Supriya Lele conceptualizes her clothing strictly through juxtaposition—where raw edges meet seamed piping details and trenchcoats are better worn as tops—offering a fresh, colorful, and totally transparent perspective to the industry. From tulle sarees to organza utility trousers, Lele constructs a wardrobe based around authenticity and the unpredictability of our modern lifestyle.
Telfar Clemens has been in the game for almost 15 years, but you wouldn’t know it from how consistently progressive his brand remains. Clemens launched Telfar in 2005, and in 2017, was awarded the largest prize from the CFDA fashion-fund. In February of this year, he stole the show at NYFW, almost single-handedly bringing energy to the week with his FW19 show at Irving Plaza, featuring a packed audience of influential friends, and a soundtrack from DJ Total Freedom and buzzy playwright Jeremy O. Harris.
In 1985, Rudi Gernreich, one of the most avant-garde, provocative fashion designers of the 1960s, who helped shape the psychedelic aesthetic of the period, passed away. Almost 35 years later, his revolutionary brand—and spirit—is resurrected under creative directors Camilla Nickerson and Neville Wakefield.
Giu Giu, pronounced joo joo, is designer Giuliana Leila Raggiani’s ribbed body-hugging world of wonder. Dancewear meets mindful 90s minimalism, the L.A.-based knitwear label is named after Raggiani’s childhood nickname and inspired, for the most part, by the designer’s Sicilian grandmother (the Nonna turtleneck is the designer’s signature piece). These elegantly versatile options bring to mind Jacques Rivette heroines roller-skating through Paris streets, Carrie Bradshaw seasons 2 and 4, or even Zoe Saldana in Center Stage. The colors—celery green, ice blue, mud brown—are day to night friendly, and the silhouettes—bare shoulders, tube tops—are nostalgia dressing with a keen edit.
After retiring his fledgling label, Vejas, Vejas Kruszewski returns as the Creative Director at the helm of Pihakapi, an Italian label that specializes in leather. Of the integral material, Kruszewski told SSENSE, “There’s this animalistic element. For Pihakapi the focus is leather, which comes from an animal, is a living material, and over time changes texture. I take reference from that and let certain animal forms influence the silhouette or the shape of the clothes.”
Marie-Ève Lecavalier is one to watch. This up-and-coming Canadian designer won the Festival d’Hyères’ Chloé prize and was shortlisted for the prestigious LVMH prize early this year. Her womenswear is modern, wearable, and playful, conjuring a 70s girl in a digital world.
"I don’t give my clothes to just anyone," says Mowalola Ogunlesi. "I’m not that bothered about being in magazines." The Nigerian-born designer who counts Skepta and Kanye as fans, and who dropped out of Central Saint Martins one year into her MA is not interested in conformity, but rather in creating garments that solicit boundary-breaking fantasy worlds.
At first only elusively appearing in the selfies of Instagram it-girls, Justine Clenquet's silver glam pieces take aesthetic cues from the 80s, 90s, and early aughts, synthesizing the perfect punctuation mark to 2019. Now in the pool of luxury e-commerce, we're excited to see how Clenquet's designs evolve.
NY-based jewelry designer Martine Ali is everywhere. Her chunky silver designs, from ball-chain necklaces to chain-link anklets to metal cage-bags have been seen on the likes of Kendrick Lamar, 21 Savage, Rihanna, and Aleali May. She describes her work as ageless and genderless, and she hasn’t ruled out expanding into ready-to-wear designs, too. Keep an eye out.
What do you get when Jacquemus and the Polka Dot Door have a baby in the 80s? Maybe it’s something similar to what you’d see walking down the Pushbutton runway. Founded in Seoul in 2003 by Seung Gun Park, the Korean label is making strides, running the gamut from bold graphics and oversized silhouettes, to muted pastels and faded denim. But don’t mistake these as anachronistic—Park’s takes on otherwise nostalgic cues function to flatten both space and time.
Fashion loves a twin sister act. Camilla and Giulia Venturini, are bag ladies (artists, models, designers) with a cinematic namesake: their label—Medea—is inspired by Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1969 film starring Maria Callas. Their bags are handsomely structured in playful colors, and have been carried by (to name a few) Rihanna, Dev Hynes, Petra Collins, and Isamaya Ffrench (who helped create witch-like, prosthetic noses for the label’s SS19 campaign). Theirs is a simple conceit: design an It-bag that feels more like divining an It-bag.
Mark Cross, while a new brand for SSENSE, is about as heritage as they come, founded in 1845 as a harness and saddle maker, before manufacturing luxury handbags. In the 1930s, Gerald Murphy took over as president, and through his friendship with Alfred Hitchcock, ended up designing a black overnight hard-case for Grace Kelly’s character in Rear Window. This is considered one of the earliest examples of product placement, and we see the same product placement decades later on Instagram, the “Grace” bag elegantly clasped in the hands of everyone from Alexa Chung to Rihanna.
Cult menswear designer Kiko Kostadinov enlisted twin sisters (and recent CSM Masters graduates) Deanna and Laura Fanning to launch the womenswear arm of his label. Debuting for London Fashion Week SS19, the collection deviates from Kostadinov’s menswear in its embrace of bright colors and shapes, but stays true to his keen eye for footwear collaborations—including a collection of Camper heels. Only two seasons in, the collection is a breath of fresh air. It’s clear that the Fanning sisters aren’t here to follow trends.
London-based menswear designer Bianca Saunders has set out to challenge perceptions of masculinity. With her SS19 collection, filled with high-waisted trousers, intentionally wrinkled fabrics, blouse-like button-ups and ruching, she is bringing a refreshing softness to typical menswear silhouettes.
Within a year of founding his eponymous Loverboy label, Glasgow-born Charles Jeffrey was nominated for an LVMH prize and selected as emerging menswear designer of the year. Mixing traditional aesthetic cues from UK subcultures with his own peculiar, whimsical flair, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy is sophisticated chaos. The designer visited the SSENSE HQ last year to co-style an editorial in celebration of his womenswear debut—this season, we debut his menswear
“Streetwear” may be the word on every tongue right now, but CLOT was one of the first to say it. Founded in 2003, Edison Chen and Kevin Poon set out to fuse Eastern and Western cultures through the Hong Kong based label. And they succeeded—CLOT is now more of a cultural conduit than it is a brand, having collaborated with everyone from Kanye West and A Bathing Ape, to Nike, Coca-Cola, and Disney. CLOT also owns a store, JUICE in Hong Kong, with plans to open 17 other locations worldwide.
London-based menswear designer Paria Farzaneh is bringing a refreshing new style to streetwear. Her earth-tone color palette and choice of natural fabrics stand out in a sea of synthetic, high-vis, streetstyle trends. Less logos, more patterns. Less chunky sneakers, more converse. Her experience as a second-generation Iranian growing up in the UK has shaped her design aesthetic and given her a unique, exciting, perspective that earned her a shortlist for the 2019 LVMH prize. Clearly we’re not the only ones obsessing over her baggy pants and graphic shirts.
Toronto-based designer Spencer Badu created S.P. Badu in 2015 for his friends. Inspired by their sense of style and lack of options, he built a genderless label to fit all of them. The self-taught designer has a keen eye for clean, modern, sportswear-leaning silhouettes infused with playful geometry.
After years of working on special projects for brands like Prada, designer Kee Kim started his own label in 2018. A graphic designer who studied at Yale’s prestigious program before turning to fashion, Kim’s work is illustrative and visual, with an emphasis on complex layering and playful dimensions.
Imagine if Rick Owens went country. Subbing in earthy tones and paired down silhouettes, Toogood offers a bucolic take on Brutalism. The design duo—sisters Faye and Erica Toogood—lend their expertise in costuming, interior design, architecture and theater to their eponymous label.
Marine Serre burst onto the scene in 2018 with lust-worthy women’s collections that had all of the buyers in a frenzy, so when she debuted select menswear looks in her SS19 show, it was a resounding: YES. Now everyone can have a piece of one of the most exciting designers to emerge from Paris.
- Text: SSENSE Editors