The Highsnobiety inboxes are inundated on a daily basis with new brands vying for a piece of the spotlight. So, to help you show off your vast knowledge of obscure fashion labels, each month we take a moment to introduce you to a fresh batch of upcoming talent.
Below you’ll find some of the best collections to land in our inbox this month. Get to know these brands before they’re massive.
Our Under the Radar series tends to focus on menswear, but since the womenswear FW17 season just ended, we rounded up some of the best women’s designers you may have missed.
We’ve set up a dedicated Under the Radar email address for future submissions. If your label wants to be considered for future posts then get in touch.
Meanwhile, for more undiscovered talent, check out the rest of our Under the Radar series.
Section 8 is about as underground as you can get while still being an actual brand — and not just something you run out of your mom’s basement.
The New York-based label is headed by an anonymous group of designers who told Vogue “We just lived through an era in which getting too much attention made someone the actual president, and so, we’re like, ‘we don’t want attention.’” Though two members of the collective have made themselves known publicly: Hood By Air stylist Akeem Smith and Japanese designer Ryohei Kawanishi.
Section 8 takes their name from America’s Low Income Housing Scheme. Before their collection launched, the group announced on their Instagram that they “exist to occupy your mind’s real estate with a wearable fusion of underclass aesthetics and absolute privilege.”
A name and declaration, which depending on who else is behind the brand, is either grossly insensitive, or pointedly reclaiming the roots of so many trends co-opted by the fashion industry.
The label’s first collection showed interesting takes on traditional tailoring and workwear, but what was most striking was the choice to put models down the runway with a whole koi fish in their mouth — something that has to be a fashion week first. No matter what Section 8 do next, it’s sure to be interesting.
This season wasn’t just Daniëlle Cathari’s New York Fashion Week debut — it was her first ever runway show. The 22-year-old student is only in her third year at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, but was picked to show as part of VFILES’ FW17 show.
For her debut, Cathari deconstructed and reworked vintage Adidas tracksuits, pairing them with color-matched wool coats, resulting in a collection that felt fresh but also eminently wearable.
At this point, thanks largely to the influence of grime culture and “athleisure,” it’s almost expected to see a tracksuit on the runway. It speaks to the strength of Cathari’s designs that her work doesn’t feel like everything else in an already saturated market.
Following the success of her debut, and with MIA already wearing her designs, Cathari will have her work cut out for her once she receives that degree.
For her FW17 collection, Parisian-born designer Faustine Steinmetz took on that all-encompassing wardrobe basic: jeans.
For inspiration, Steinmetz looked at how people across the world wore their jeans. Taking salvaged denim, she recreated classic Canadian tuxedos and Israeli-inspired acid wash, but most impressive was her take on the bedazzled jeans popular among residents of Bogota, Columbia.
A pair of skinny jeans were so encrusted with Swarovski crystals that the only reason you could tell they were made of denim was the painstakingly teased-out hems — an extreme take on the now ubiquitous raw-edge denim.
Steinmetz experimented with the fabric elsewhere, pleating it, turning it into mules and boots and distressing it to form patterns.
All in all, it was the perfect collection to get you excited about jeans again.
Another newcomer to the fashion week circuit, Supriya Lele showed her very first collection as part of Fashion East, a non-profit talent incubator dedicated to supporting emerging British talent.
Lele is first generation Indian-British, and her collection reflects the duality of her upbringing. She took inspiration from both the opulence and femininity seen in traditional Indian dress, and her experience growing up as a goth in the British Midlands.
The collection explored different aspects of femininity and was a subversive take on luxury. It merged traditional feminine shapes and fabrics with fetishwear, painted silk turned into PVC dusters, and latex macs tied with gold gaffer tape.
Founded in 2015, Vejas is a young brand helmed by the equally young Canadian designer Vejas Kruszewski, who is just 19.
In a similar fashion to underground New York brands Eckhaus Latta or Moses Gauntlett Cheng, Vejas produce seemingly normal clothes.
At first glance most pieces from the brand’s FW17 collection, which showed in Paris earlier this month, seem like something found in a charity shop, or worn by a fashion-unaware grandparent, but that’s the beauty in Vejas’ creations. No individual piece is super shocking, but Kruszewski plays with proportions, cut outs, and tailoring, pushing the concept of normal to its limit.
Sandy Liang’s signature is her downtown New York, chinatown grandma aesthetic. Season to season her collections don’t change much, but when you have such a distinctive look, why would you? Instead, the young designer is focused on expanding her business.
Liang’s FW17 collection was not only her biggest to date, but it also marked her first foray into accessories. She produced just two accessories, a shearling mohawk beanie and pink shearling bucket bag, to test the market before fully expanding.
The rest of the show featured frayed denim, boilersuits, riot grrrl dresses, and enviable outerwear — lots of it.
Layering is an autumnal style classic for a reason, but at Assembly’s fall show, founder Gregg Armas presented a persuasive argument for doing things different this season.
The 14-look collection, pared down from previous seasons, had a limited colour palette of red and pink alongside muted greys, browns, blacks and navys.
Each piece in the collection was designed to be mixed and matched, and at the presentation, held in a downtown New York hotel lounge, Armas took this concept to the quite literally.
Clear rain macs were layered under off-the-shoulder tops and sheer netted tops were put over coats. Basically, nothing was how it usually is. But with the rising popularity of people not wearing their clothes properly, it wouldn’t be surprising if this type of styling is everywhere soon.
Since launching in 2010, Ukrainian designer Julie Paskal’s namesake label has been steadily growing, while still remaining under the radar (get it?). Paskal was shortlisted for the LVMH Prize in 2014 and had her spring 2016 collection featured in the windows at colette.
The former architect applied her background to this collection, merging sporty architectural shapes and innovate design with decidedly un-fall-like floaty fabrics. But when the clothes are this good, you’ll want to wear them no matter the season.
Vaquera, a label which consists of designers David Moses, Patric DiCaprio, Bryn Taubensee and Claire Sully, have been mediating on the idea of America for the last few seasons. For fall, their attention turned to a Midwesterner dreaming of a different life.
As DiCaprio said to WWD, “it’s about living in the Midwest, thinking, ‘I want to be a New York girl, I want to live this romantic lifestyle — so buying the Tiffany piece will help me get that vibe. It’s so cheesy — you can’t not be obsessed with that kind of young naïveté.”
“Girls who are obsessed with things that they don’t know about, yet they remain this beacon. It’s, like, ‘I’m stuck here, but I can get taste watching Audrey Hepburn.’”
At the show this concept translated into whimsical, often garish looks. One model came down the runway in a off-the-shoulder American flag dress, complete with a train, and the same fabric was turned into a shrug later in the show.
Another wore an oversized shirt with an Eiffel Tower motif, similar to something you’d get at a tourist shop. But the most spectacular look was when a model came down the runway wearing nothing but a giant tiffany’s bag. It was a theatrical take on a very specific type of American dream.
Ksenia Schnaider is best known for her “Demi-Denims” which are one of the most interesting takes on jeans we’ve seen recently.
From the back, Schnaider’s Demi-Denims look like regular jeans, but from the front they are a sort of amalgamation of denim bermuda shorts and straight leg jeans. They sound terrible but once you see them, you’ll be surprised at how versatile the silhouette is.
Mainly sourcing from her local Kiev flea market Lesnoy, the Ukrainian native has a knack for reworking second-hand clothes.
For Fall, Schnaider produced more Demi-Denims but also patchworked old racing shirts into colourful oversized sweatshirts. If you needed a reason to look beyond Gosha Rubchinskiy or MISBHV and explore the rest of the rising Eastern European fashion scene, then Ksenia Schnaider is a good place to start.
- Lead image: Sandy Liang