From fantastical dresses to headbands that make you feel like a queen, these independent labels fuelled by social media will keep you up shopping all night. It's going to be a great fashion year for you.
Step Of Grace
Based in Indonesia, Step of Grace is a sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand focusing on everyday essentials.
The brand helmed by two girlfriends carries a wide range of chic yet eco-friendly apparel, but the bestsellers are the leather sandals. Hand-woven from soft goat leather, they are produced on a small scale by Javanese artisans with skills that have been passed down for generations. The brand also prides itself as plastic-free, and pledges to plant a tree for every piece sold.
The Series NY
Ella Wiznia wanted to create a sustainable and inclusive fashion line while recovering from an eating disorder. She started educating herself on the worrying environmental impact that the fashion industry has on the planet, and since then, she vowed to solely wear and work with recycled or upcycled materials. Her puffer jackets, for instance, are made from vintage sleeping bags.
The bestseller? Probably her pretty crochet tank tops made from vintage crochet quilts.
New York-based grad school students Beste Tonga and Hilal Palacioglu started their business based on the ethos of empowering women to work, as both came from families where their mothers couldn't work and make their own money.
Their sweaters and cardigans are made in Turkey, where they hail from, and handmade by women who have been knitting for most of their lives — that includes their friends and family members. Little did they know that with the creation of their very affordably priced Red Strawberry and Cloud cropped cardis, their popularity would start soaring on Instagram and Tiktok.
Ladies, you can be a queen every day with these pretty 'crowns' designed by modern eclectic lifestyle store Luulaa. Based in Singapore, the brand is known for its multi-way chains (designed initially as a mask chain, but can be used in four different ways).
Recently, they worked with craftsmen in Thailand to create these one-of-a-kind embellished headbands. The idea of the headbands is to make women feel and look their best (especially on bad hair days) with one stunning accessory. It's definitely party-approved, but don't stop yourself from wearing it out on a supermarket run.
Here's how you can make an impression at your next Zoom meeting: Invest in one of these beautiful vintage-inspired ruffled blouses with Peter Pan collars by Spanish-owned atelier Andion.
Based in Galicia, north of Spain, the brand produces everything in its own atelier and has been creating made-to-order (there's no existing stock and items are produced only when there is an order) clothes for four decades. Today, Andion is known on Instagram for its signature blouses with oversized collars. And yes, you can DM the brand on IG to order yours and even have it personalised.
Zig Zag Goods
If you ever need a fashion pick-me-up on a blah day, Zig Zag Goods is the name to know. Based in sunny Los Angeles, this quirky label is a shared obsession between two besties Amanda Adam and Piper Cashman. Highlights include cowboy boots with polka dots, oversized floral trousers, exaggerated fringed tank tops, and many more rule-breaking outfits.
A background in graphic design definitely helped Grace Gummer create the unique designs for her earrings. Her personality-filled creations, handmade from polymer clay in Margate, England, are sure to put a smile on your face every time you wear them.
Objects Of Mass Distraction
There's a quiet beauty about Charlene Kuah's exceptionally unique pieces (she prefers to call her jewellery pieces "wearables"). According to Charlene, her one-of-a-kind wearables, such as necklaces, rings and brooches made with seashells or stones, "occupies a place between art and jewellery". Her design mantra of function following form is centred around the natural materials that she discovers.
Effortless and utterly comfortable, Runaway Bicycle is a sustainable clothing label from Mumbai, India. The dresses are one of the bestsellers as they are made from light, airy fabrics that utilise traditional weaving techniques native to India, with silhouettes that flatter any body type.
Everyone's obsessed with a good sleeve detail. There's just something about an oversized shoulder design that elevates the desirability of a dress, as seen in this dress by Naya Rea.
Besides the eye-catching sleeves, this dress also gets two-thumbs up for its bare-back detail and scalloped hem design. Her designs are easy to wear and thoughtfully manufactured (she uses organic cotton fabric and dead stock) as she works closely with family-run businesses, which means most of her pieces are made in small quantities.
Hannah Beth Fincham
Inspired by her vast personal collection of vintage pieces, Hannah Beth Fincham has created her brand offering a range of timeless interchangeable pieces.
The corset is her centrepiece, and it comes with add-ons like sleeves, straps or belts — the options are endless. Her design philosophy is for you to be your own stylist, so each look is versatile and completely adaptable. All pieces are handmade in London, based on a slow and sustainable approach.
If you haven't heard of the Colossal Knit Jumper — well, lucky you found us. This colourful chunky cardigan handmade from 100 per cent jumbo merino wool (a natural, renewable, biodegradable fibre that feels so soft on the skin) in Northern Ireland has been trending on our Instagram feed since forever. It's safe to say that there will never be a dull morning when you're in a Hope Macaulay masterpiece.
Baju by Oniatta
There is a beauty behind each piece of batik that is lost in time, and founder Oniatta Effendi is determined to tell that story through her creations for Baju by Oniatta ("baju" means clothes in Malay).
There is an intense amount of work that goes into the technical artistry of wax and dye to make batik, and Oniatta started this label purely out of her love for the fabric. She recently travelled to Paris, with a few other local brands, for a pop-up at concept store Heureux Les Curieux in Marais as part of a DesignSingapore Council initiative.
Abigayil Swann launched Margaux Studios at the height of the pandemic in 2020 after feeling burnt out working in the fast fashion industry for a decade. Her mission: To build a sustainable jewellery brand offering only made-to-order services. The brand has gained popularity with its whimsical pearl necklaces and earrings laced with a vintage appeal — all handmade in North London.
Before he was the fashion designer behind cult Indonesian label Toton, Toton Januar was also a model. In fact, it was through modelling that his outlook on the creative industry was shaped.
To pursue his passion for design seriously, he enrolled in a fashion course at Parsons School of Design, New York. His modern interpretations of old-school techniques traditionally used for folk and ceremonial costumes in Indonesia are translated beautifully through intricately embroidered blouses, dresses, and accessories such as hats and belts.
Olivia Rose The Label
This one-woman show founded in 2017 by Olivia Rose Havelock has been creating waves among fashion insiders. Olivia attributes her love for design to her grandma, whom she calls "the most stylish person ever" and her biggest inspiration, as it was she who taught Olivia to sew at a really young age.
The British label only takes orders twice a month, so if you're thinking of putting in an order, we'd suggest the Ophelia dress (a figure-hugging number with hand-pleated, oversized puffed sleeves and a square neckline) in pink floral brocade as your first choice — it is hands down her most iconic piece.
The lovely model seen in the photo above is designer Ava Amande's mother. After all, it was her mother who gave Ava the inspiration to start designing her dresses from recycled silk saris sourced directly from India. She stays true to the concept of no waste and no virgin materials, with every single piece handcrafted in London by Ava herself.
Launched by an architecture graduate who found her calling in fashion design instead, this Malaysian womenswear label is well-loved for its versatile, easy-to-match separates and modest dresses, such as the Glow Up smocked dresses — designed to fit and flatter any body type.
Harry Styles is a fan. So is Gigi Hadid. What started out as a hobby between two best friends has since blossomed into an Instafamous brand loved by celebrities and fashion influencers. We love all the freshwater pearl and beaded necklaces that come with lightweight magnetic fasteners, as well as the pretty phone leashes.
Covid hit many businesses hard, but for British brand Yolke Girl, it gave the business a fresh new perspective of producing smaller quantities with quicker turnarounds, and selling according to the actual season instead of following the fashion calendar.
The label is known for its luxurious sleepwear in fun, cheery prints made from sumptuous silk fabric. Mums will be happy to know that the brand has recently expanded to include kids sleepwear as well.
At the height of the pandemic last year, many people were looking for an escape from reality, and any chance to hold on to a fantasy is a moment to cherish. Many women found this escapism through one thing: The Puff Dress by LA-based brand Selkie.
The dresses are handmade in small batches, catering to all sizes from XXS to 5X. Selkie fans will tell you that this is not a dress you want, but a dress you desire. And thanks to the babydoll silhouette, it's flattering regardless of your body type.
One of the pioneers in the world of affordable yet chic loungewear, this Ukrainian brand burst onto the scene in 2018 with its famous Atlanta, a maxi dress with oversized puffy sleeves. And the designs are not just limited to the home — celebs and style influencers like Emily Ratajkowski and Leandra Medine have been spotted wearing the seriously stylish nightwear out in the streets.
This article was first published in Her World Online.