Gone are the days when fashion was starved for fresh talent. Now you can't set foot into a store without a field guide of who’s in and who’s out.
Competitions like the LVMH Prize (now in its fifth year), easier access to customers through social media, and a prevailing culture of celebrity-endorsed street style have all contributed to an anything-goes environment for startups where everyone gets a shot at 15 minutes of fame. For designers to outlast that moment, however, takes more than just buzz.
“For the most part it seems like hype is what sells clothes,” says Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond. “Talent, not so much. The challenge is that people hold your proximity to a Kardashian in too high of a regard.”
And yet the cream eventually rises to the top. After four years of hard work, critically acclaimed collections, and a successful collaboration with Reebok, Jean-Raymond is now turning stores away in favor of a mostly direct-to-consumer approach. Other up-and-coming designers have found support from retailers like Dover Street Market and Net-a-Porter that seek to distinguish themselves by spotting the next big things before they’re everywhere. And the savviest newcomers are the ones who combine their talent with a little hype.
“I figured out how to create my own way,” Jean-Raymond says.
Consider this your field guide to the new guard of young designers.
“I fell in love with Les Rêveries immediately,” says Lisa Aiken, retail fashion director at Net-a-Porter, which is launching the label exclusively this month. “They have created the ultimate dress.” The “they” behind the label are sisters Wayne Lee and Ai Ly, who wanted to make versatile, sophisticated clothes that could be worn for day or evening. “It’s an easy dress code,” says Lee. Like the name, she adds, “it reflects the idea of a daydream.”