With Fashion Month at its end, it has been interesting to see innovations in the world of fashion. Despite the focus on bigger, well-known designers, we should also consider the designers who may not be as popular but should definitely be on our radar for the future. These designers manage to incorporate artistry and social issues, such as sustainability, identity, race and sexuality, within their work. In doing so, they are creating unique and personal pieces that set them apart from more mainstream designers and high-end fashion brands.
1) Harris Reed
If you have access to any form of social media, you’ll most likely have already seen Harris Reed’s work, namely on Harry Styles. Reed’s website describes their style as “Glam-Rock Romanticism Gone Nonbinary”, and looking at the frilly, sheer, embellished outfits they create, which are frequently worn by non-binary models, it’s clear to see why. Citing Oscar Wilde as an influence, as well as Victoriana, these elements are made clear, but also modernised in the collections. As well as this, the designer’s time interning under the watchful eye of Alessandro Michele (Gucci’s Creative Director), clearly impacted Reed’s designs and technique. The use of fabrics and embellishment in Reed’s work is not purely decorative, but also impactful. Reed “strives for a vision of gender fluidity and inclusivity”, blurring “the preconceived fault-lines people have about gender and sexuality”, particularly redefining what might be conceived as ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ clothing. Since creating looks for Harry Styles that have been featured in magazine shoots, music videos and on his tour, it can only go onwards and upwards for this young designer.
2) Paolina Russo
Paolina Russo’s most recent collection was an explosion of colours, patterns and geometric shapes. This Central Saint Martin’s student focuses on sustainability and uses more unconventional materials in her work. Using old sporting equipment that is donated to her, such as old shoes, footballs, and kneepads, she upcycles and sows them together to create unique pieces. Furthering her resourcefulness, she also works with supposedly unusable materials such as single shoes, or scratched items, in an attempt to reduce waste. The leather used in her work is all repurposed or sustainable, originating from either pre-used items or Ecco Leather, a sustainable leather company. Inspired by her youth playing competitive sports, Russo successfully combines nostalgia and sustainability, as well as geometric prints, patterns, and forms, to create a fun collection that marks her identity as an individual, and a designer.
Rebellion, edge and identity: these are the three words that best describe up-and-coming fashion brand, Weslah. This New York based designer (real name, Wesley Berryman) has mostly made a name for himself through his social media presence. As a queer designer, he creates his designs to “communicate” with the LGBTQ+ community, taking inspiration from the New York club kids and drag scene, as well as goth culture. The over-the-top padding and corsets with visible boning that are features of his outfits create an extreme silhouette for the wearer. The long, gothic writing on the front of his pieces has an early ‘00s feel, whilst the distressed hems, visible stitching and cut-outs show a punk influence. Recently, one of his dresses was worn by Lady Gaga, who he cites as one of his biggest style inspirations. By incorporating these different styles and inspirations in his work, Weslah has managed to create unique designs which represent Berryman’s identity and the brand’s ethos: “My designs tell a story of love and acceptance.”
4) Tolu Coker
Combining sustainability with identity, Tolu Coker has successfully created a unique and personal brand, which also happens to spread a message. Since graduating from Central Saint Martin’s with First Class Honours, the British-Nigerian designer has gone on to form her own brand, with her collections being shown at London Fashion Week and being worn by the likes of Rihanna. Using scraps of old materials and old denims, she reworks them to create streetwear-inspired, high-fashion pieces. She uses her platform as a designer as an opportunity to tackle and address social issues such as race, gender and climate change. Her most recent collection featured various fabrics such as lace, leather and denim, with bold and interesting prints, whilst her models danced down the runway. Though Coker’s fashion has currently been put on hold during her artistic residence in Shanghai, her socially and environmentally conscious works are definitely ones to look out for in the future.
5) Ed Marler
The over-the-top and regal designs of British designer and Central Saint Martins’ graduate Ed Marler are nothing short of exquisite and artistic. Marler has always cited royalty as a huge inspiration in regard to his work, and this is clear in his designs. Marler’s AW15 collection was a homage to Britain, with the campaign images shot outside a pub in Shoreditch and his friends modelling the outfits which featured flat caps, leopard print, royal emblems and football merch-esque scarves. Today, Marler mostly works with FKA Twigs, making custom pieces for her music videos, tours and red carpet appearances. The collaborative process between Marler and Twigs has resulted in beautiful baroque and Renaissance-inspired pieces. Looking through Marler’s Instagram, you’ll find images of his designs for FKA Twigs, along with the original drawings and images that inspire him. The artistry and references in Marler’s works are truly something to admire. Constantly using new patterns, colours, fabrics and silhouettes, it will be very exciting to see what Marler has to show next.
– Megan Finch