The Block

Insights — 6 months ago

9 Fashion Designers Set to Shake Things Up in 2018

Over the last few years fashion has made headlines for collaborations between luxury brands and streetwear/sportswear labels, the repurposing of everyday logos and items as high fashion, and the re-emergence of political slogan t-shirts. It’s also become increasingly focused on identity. Gender, class, cultural heritage and diversity, have come to the foreground, and we’re interested in designers who are engaging with these ideas in meaningful ways, without appropriating the experiences of minorities.

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Image courtesy of GarbageTV. Photography: Aaron Webber

With London Fashion Week wrapping up, we’ve selected 9 emerging designers that are set to do interesting things in 2018; whether that’s through collabs, deconstructing gender, reclaiming deadstock, exploring their heritage or funding their labels with a club night. From more established names already working with big industry players and showing at major fashion weeks, to very new faces, here are our names to watch this year.

Samuel Ross

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The 26 year old founder of A-COLD-WALL has come a long way from making knock-off Nike and Adidas clothing to sell to friends. Ross’ route into fashion was unconventional – he studied graphic design at university, then managed to secure a job with Virgil Abloh, working as his creative assistant for two and a half years. To say the designer is multi-talented is putting it mildly, as well as clothing he’s made furniture, films, installations and music. His 2018 trajectory is set to be interesting – his ‘experimental collaboration’ with sunglasses brand Oakley has already previewed at Slam Jam’s Spazio Maiocchi Showcase, plus in late January he teased a new collab with Abloh’s OFF-WHITE label.

Supriya Lele

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The Fashion East (the non-profit initiative set up to support emerging British talent) show at London Fashion Week is one of the best places to spot exciting newcomers, and their lineup this year was as strong as ever. Supriya Lele, ASAI and Charlotte Knowles are three designers who are making distinctive, memorable clothes very early in their careers. Lele and ASAI in particular are interesting for the way in which they explore their own cultural heritages through their designs. Lele has just shown her third season with Fashion East, having finished her masters at the RCA in 2016. Her collection built upon a talent for draping fabric and an understanding of colour.

George Keburia

There’s been a lot of attention on the recent wave of post-Soviet designers, with people like Demna Gvasali, Anton Belinskiy and Gosha Rubchinskiy drawing global attention to scenes in Georgia, Ukraine and Russia. Self-taught, Georgian-based Keburia makes strikingly ‘80s (in a good way) clothes – think pussy bow blouses, hyper puffy sleeves, gold buttons and pastel colours, refuting the idea that there’s one fixed streetwear/sportswear ‘post-Soviet aesthetic’. Expect to see a lot of his futuristic cat eye sunglasses, already worn by Rihanna, Solange, Kourtney Kardashian and the Hadids, in 2018.

Bianca Saunders

Having completed her MA at the Royal College of Art last year, the South-London designer is quickly becoming known, alongside the more established Grace Wales Bonner and fellow newcomer Mowalola Ogunlesi, for her nuanced take on black masculinity. Saunders works across different media; she showed her first collection in a self-curated exhibition, Personal Politics, at London’s Ace Hotel alongside ‘Permission’, a film directed by Akinola Davis Jr. She’s also produced a zine with poetry by James Massiah and photographs by Adama Jalloh. This year, along with three other graduates, her clothes will be exhibited in London, Copenhagen, and New York as part of 1 Granary’s new initiative VOID.

GmbH

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Benjamin Alexander Huseby and Serhat Isik draw inspiration from Berlin dancefloors, their friends, and their fathers to make clothes which engage with gender, diversity and sustainability. Huseby is Norwegian-Pakistani and Isik is Turkish-German, and their experiences as the European-born children of Muslim immigrants inform their work. Their runways and campaigns champion ethnic diversity, and while GmbH is ostensibly a menswear brand they are as likely to cast female and non-binary models as men. They source materials from deadstock produced by high-end factories, and also upcycle items from everyday brands like Helly Hansen. But all this aside, their collections have gone from strength to strength in only a few seasons; AW’18 featured fleeces and embroidered pieces alongside the double fly jeans and PVC trousers that have become their signature.

Marine Serre

The 26 year old winner of last year’s LVMH Prize will make her hotly anticipated Paris Fashion Week debut at the end of this month. Amid an influx of sportswear-inspired clothes Serre’s creations stand out as original, with materials and shapes typically used in sportswear meeting 19th century aesthetics and an insightful use of prints. The crescent moon, used in part for the connotations it has to Islam, appears again and again like a motif – it’s where you’d expect the Nike tick to be on the headbands, wetsuit-like tops and socks that are already stocked in concept stores including Dover Street Market.

GARBAGEtv

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Perth is the unlikely home of the brand recently dubbed ‘Australia’s most promising streetwear label’ by i-D magazine. Club night and DIY clothing label GARBAGEtv began life in 2014, and is managed by friends Kiel Rogers, an artist, and Rhys Scott, an animator. Rogers, who’s worked with Walter Van Beirendonck, Jeremy Scott and Comme des Garcons, cites bodybuilding and martial arts as sources of inspiration, and sees the club nights as a way to help fund the label. Their mix of reasonably priced streetwear staples and more conceptual items – including sweatshirts with sculptural 3D lettering – have already been picked up by cult online network/store VFiles.

Kiko Kostadinov

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The Central St Martins alumni has established a strong reputation in just a few seasons for his intricate, workwear-influenced designs. Since 2016 he’s been creative director of British heritage brand Mackintosh’s new line Mackintosh 0001, and as part of his most recent outing at London Fashion Week Men’s he debuted a womenswear capsule collection. 2018 sees a collaboration with ASICS; his new shoe for the Japanese brand blends the Gel-Burz 1 with elements of the Gel-Nimbus 20 and Gel-Venture 6, in colours from his recent collection.

Reconstruct Collective

Post-graduation life can be extremely tough for young designers; from trying to secure funding, to producing clothes, to attempting to showcase collections. Laura Aanen, Alyssa Groeneveld, Kim Kivits, Michelle Lievaart, and Sanne Verkleij’s solution was to form a collective. The five (originally a six along with co-founder Zara Asmail) met while studying together at Rotterdam’s Willem de Kooning Academie. They create unisex streetwear/sportswear inspired clothes and have already collaborated with Converse to create a ‘Franken-Chucks’ shoe for their collection for last year’s Amsterdam Fashion Week.

Liked this? Head over to our list of 20 t-shirt brands to watch in 2018.