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.
Our Under the Radar series tends to focus on menswear, but this time we’re giving young womenswear and unisex brands a moment in the spotlight. Here is a handpicked selection of upcoming labels every fashion follower should get to know, before they’re massive.
The Paris-based brand has been under the guidance of Creative Director Glenn Martens since 2013, and the Belgian designer and graduate from the Royal Academy of Antwerp, added a womenswear string to his bow five seasons ago. However, the past three are where Martens has really honed his disheveled cool-girl aesthetic.
His latest offering is a wild textile mix of traditional menswear fabrics, sporty jersey and ultra-feminine chiffon and velvets. The show presented lengthy coats, voluminous dresses and waist-cinching jeans. Styling is key to Y-Project’s vision: layering long sleeves under billowing off-the-shoulder dresses and tucking sweatshirts into high waists.
The proportions, layering and fabrics echo the current zeitgeist. Without mentioning the V-word, it does feel like Y-Project shares a few parallels with another Parisian brand on the tip of the fashion world’s tongue, minus the bootleg logos and hype.
Perhaps, where other labels have shot to fashion infamy within a mere season or two, Y-Project will continue to leisurely build a loyal base of fans.
Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk are the design duo behind Area NYC. The Parsons-schooled pair are in their third season, delivering collections of tactile feminine pieces in New York. The cunning designers manage to make unapologetically pink ensembles in silk, fur and brocade, without sickly sweet suggestions of sugar plum fairies.
Instead their aesthetic is more modern minimalism, with a heavy, glossy coating of glamour. Their garments have a liquid silk quality, and some are embellished with crystals – a young Diana Ross would surely approve. Even if a fresh twist on a ’70s disco diva isn’t your bag (anyone?), the soft tailoring or fur-lined denim parka just might be.
Based in Berlin, Christa Bösch and Cosima Gadient have built their brand, Ottolinger. Despite the label being only two seasons old, these new kids on the block have cemented a clear identity with their crude, DIY vibe. The Swiss natives’ Fall/Winter 2016 collection was part of the V-Files runway show, which gives young brands a platform to wave their flag during New York Fashion Week.
The collection presented was unfussy yet raw: frayed velvet and denim, reconstructed sweatshirt dresses and burnt – yes, burnt – everything else. The more subdued looks had charred trouser hems, and there were entire outfits with holes singed through, for that “cigarette burn chic” in the city that never sleeps. This is one brand we can say is literally “lit.”
With models of the moment Sita Abellan and Binx Walton rocking their pieces across fashion mags, it won’t be long until Ottolinger pieces are popping up all over the street style crowd.
Miguel Bercer, the creative leader behind brand ManéMané, is doing his bit for Spanish fashion. After showing at Madrid Fashion Week, the designer created a buzz with his mix-and-match textures, and beautifully chaotic styling.
Despite his rookie status, Bercer shows early promise with a collection that conjures up a youthful yet intelligent Prada-esque mood. Quilting, cable knits, checks and ribbons collide with sporadic bold graphics, presenting us with Bercer’s ideal woman: one who is more interested in looking unusual than pretty. The references are bountiful, from English countryside to basketball players, all tied together with reels of ribbon.
If Miguel Bercer’s compelling combo of influences isn’t enough to grab the attention of the industry outside of his native country, the exaggerated jeans emblazoned with the brand’s giant logo should help get his name out there.
Sophie Hardeman is another young blood who has caught the stylishly beady eye of the V-Files buyers. Her label is the Netherlands’ answer to Marques Almeida. That means denim, and lots of it. The Amsterdam born and based designer breathes new life into the classic workwear fabric with exaggerated proportions and cutouts.
Hardeman’s namesake brand is actually gender fluid rather than womenswear, as presented in her brilliantly-cast runway show. Hardeman closed her offering with an Instagram-worthy show piece: a skirt that appeared to blow up over the model’s head – in denim, of course. The gimmick worked in her favor, alerting fashion followers to the rest of her less-ridiculous and covetable collection.
This elusive brand doesn’t give much away about the talent behind it, and retaining Margiela-like anonymity may well increase common curiosity about this Paris-based label. While the designer, or team, behind 9-1ppm may be a little coy, the brand itself is makes clothing for the bold.
Don’t be put off by the bizarre styling. Once you take away the latex gimp mask, the pieces themselves are actually pretty wearable. Inspiration or references behind the collection are another area we are left in the dark about. Intriguing tech-fabrics and blingy accessories indicate a ’90s rave influence, while Glen Plaid patterns propose more rural interests. The nova-check print, shiny leisurewear suits and diamante choker appear to be a love-letter to UK garage culture.
Whether you dig the brave combinations or a singular piece, 9-1ppm is certainly a young whipper-snapper of a brand to keep an eye on.
For more undiscovered talent, check out our last Under the Radar installment.
- Words: Rachael Rodgers
- Main image: Hardeman