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  • Writer's pictureEmma Bottomley

Designers to Know - Vogue

In the September 2021 issue of British Vogue is an article titled; ‘The Global Independent Designers To Know Now.’ Nothing out of the ordinary here.

What’s interesting about the article is that almost all of the designers are not only brilliantly creative but they are purpose driven. The ever present parallel of using fashion and the business of fashion as a force for positive change and impact is growing exponentially.

As Vogue puts it; ‘For these indies – on all points of the global map – fashion is a solo high-wire act where the only way to look is forward: in terms of gender identity, craft, representation, community, sustainability, and, last but never least, making utterly thrilling and audacious clothes.’

So who makes the list - and more importantly, who and what do they stand for?

Peter Do - born in Vietnam, Do immigrated to the US aged 14. The brand was founded in NYC by a group of long-time friends. They want to challenge the current status quo of the industry through their work and the brand values are rooted in kindness and mutual respect. Furthermore their design approach is focused on ‘razor sharp tailoring, architectural construction and honest textiles.’ It’s not often you see the word honest used by a brand - it’s refreshing and encouraging to see.

Collina Strada - Their sustainability missions tell us everything we need to know; ‘As well as a ready-to-wear collection; Collina Strada is a platform for climate awareness, social awareness, change and self expression. Sustainability is a journey.’ Their collections are vibrant, loud and expressive and encourage the wearer to self reflect through clothing, to ask themselves ‘How can you be the best version of yourself today?’

Palomo - ‘blurring gender norms’ is very much this design house’s ethos. Their genderless pieces; ‘made for everyone’ are beautiful, stylish and expressive and have been worn by the likes of Harry Styles. Recently they have joined forces with NGO Rescate who provides support to LGTBIQ+ refugees, displaced people, migrants and victims of major political, natural and/or social crises. The t-shirt they have partnered with them on is a classic cotton T-shirt with the quote “Show Your True Colours” and the significance of the quote is to encourage everyone to be themselves and help those that can’t, be who they are.

Vereja - championing gender fluidity in their collections. Established by Russian designer Igor Andreev and his friend Masha Komarova, what sets them apart is their use of craft - specifically crochet and knitting within their collections. Andreev learned to knit through craft workshops at his local school - despite initially being forbidden because he was a boy - but he insisted. For their AW21 collection many of the garments were made using upcycled materials such as tablecloths, doilies and sweaters bought second hand or donated by friends. For the brand, Andreev and Masha champion individuality, making it happen with whatever they have to hand.

Maximilian - Manchester born designer Maximilian Davis’ designs have significant meaning. He wants to show the world that Black elegance exists. As he says “When you think about who wears streetwear, you think of Black people,” shrugs Max. “When you think of tailoring, you think of white people. It doesn’t make any sense. My dad wore a suit to work every day. It needs to change.” He has a voice and is determined to use it. “Right now, people are more open than ever before to talking about race, and being educated about the ways that they can work to be anti-racist.” he says. “This collection is offering a starting point for me to be vocal in that conversation. For so long, Black people haven’t been in charge of their own narratives or, during lockdown, with the shootings, have been seen so one-dimensionally. I want to show people of colour in a different light.”

The impact and power that fashion holds cannot be underestimated. These designers are proof that clothes can do so much talking.


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