We are creatures of sartorial habit when it comes to our fashion choices. Aside from an occasional burst of style inspiration following one fashion week or another, our uniform of head-to-toe black takes us through winter, while breezy dresses and separates in a neutral palette prevent us from entirely melting in the summer. Our loyalty often extends to our roster of go-to brands, as well. The past year or so, however, a slew of new brands entered our fashion vernacular, taking place front and center on our wardrobe racks.
Ahead we showcase nine new fashion brands, from lingerie to accessory, which we have come to love, and talk to their designers about how the line started, what their favorite pieces are, and what they're up to next. Just prepare to make room for all of them in your closet and wonder how you've lived without them till now.
After being the face of some of the most fashion-forward brands in the world, our favorite fashion darling and trendsetter Alexa Chung has finally blessed us all with a namesake collection of her own. "I was being asked to partake in more and more collaborations, and I thought to myself, Why don't I just start my own company so I can put all this under one roof?" And it's spot-on: You no longer have to scour department stores and indie vintage one-offs to get Chung's signature polished boho style. The brand offers a range of playful and cozy separates, exceptionally tailored blazers and outwear, and elegantly whimsical dresses that have us spending all our money.
DNA: "I think this brand has humor. Or, at least, I hope it does. I hate the word 'quirky,' but it's probably an accurate description of some of the things we're making. Everyone on the planet has a unique perspective, and this is an expression of mine."
One item from the collection to wear all your life: "Ooooffffff, that's really upsetting. So many weather fronts, so much time being naked waiting for the laundry to dry. I would choose our trench coat in tobacco, because it's classic."
What's next: "We've finally set sail, now we have to steady the ship and crack open a beer before we change direction."
We've said it once, but we'll say it again: We want to live in Bad Decision Adventure Club's unisex pieces. The truly genderless fashion, created by Rachel Grant and Alyssa Gudino, oozes effortless style and comfort with long shorts, oversize muscle tees that can double as dresses (two of NYLON's very own editors are currently practicing what they preach and sporting this style on rotation), and retro-esque overalls, all in the most perfect of neutral color palettes. "We launched Bad Decision Adventure Club because we wanted to offer something that is inclusive to everyone no matter your sex or gender preference. Fashion, in general, isn't always inclusive of everyone—it can be unaffordable or defined as 'men's' or 'women's' with nothing to offer in between," the duo says. "There aren't many unisex brands that are easy, cool, and approachable. A lot of them tend to be very avant-garde and super-conceptual. We wanted to be able to provide something every human could wear." What's more, the L.A.-based line uses eco-friendly fabrics and gives back $5 from each item sold to Skid Row Housing Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering support for the homeless in Los Angeles.
DNA: "We have a uniluxe [unisex-luxury]-meets-streetwear vibe. Not only can everyone wear it, but you are wearing organic cotton/hemp blends that no one else has and are better for the environment. You’re also helping house the homeless community in L.A. BDAC thinks it's cool to have a positive impact; we are making you look cool and feel good. I don't feel like there are any uniluxe and eco-friendly brands out there doing that."
One item from the collection to wear all your life: "We basically LIVE in The Jameson Tee and The Hayden Short—they come in tan, peach, black, and white. The feel and texture of the fabrics are so incredibly soft."
What's next: "For Fall/Winter, we will be adding some darker seasonal colors and a few new styles. We are really excited about our hoodie that we have in the works—it will have a surprise element to it, to really show its versatility. We’re also really excited about our dress-trackpant hybrid."
If all eco-friendly fashion looked like AMUR's impossibly elegant styles, we would never shop non-sustainable fashion ever again. The creative brainchild of Sofia Shannon, AMUR first blew us away this spring when it debuted with a line of wedding-perfect dresses, fashion-savvy separates, and one sick floral pantsuit, all made from ethical fabrics and with environmental impact in mind. "For the past few years, I have experienced a shift in the way I started buying products. Whether it was beauty, fashion, or food I chose to eat, I started having a higher level of consciousness of what I want for me, for my life, and for my body. I started choosing the products that were made in a healthier, more conscious, or in a more sustainable way, thinking of the impact that products and their processes have on my body and on the environment," says Shannon. "I created AMUR because I wanted to design a collection that was aligned with my own values and my lifestyle. There are some brands and new designers breaking out with similar values, but I wanted to develop a collection that would also express my own personal style." And Shannon's personal style is one we've come to be obsessed with.
DNA: "Each collection is created, first and foremost, to bring something new, special, and lasting into the world. In this era of disposable clothes, we focus on true statement piece—tailored with strong lines, a feminine personality, and a sense of quality that endures, season after season. AMUR was born from the concept that great style does not have to come at the expense of our environment. AMUR stands for A Mindful Use of Resources, and it’s with that conscious mindset that we approach the sourcing process for the materials we use."
One item from the collection to wear all your life: "It would be the Elizabeth jumpsuit in organic silk satin. I love the navy floral print, and the relaxed wide-leg silhouette balances its femininity—besides it's super-comfortable and soft against the skin."
What's next: "For our upcoming collections, we are broadening our range of product. We will start incorporating more categories like daytime separates, knits, and new custom fabrications that are currently in development."
While this intimates brand is the oldest on the list (it launched in April of last year), we truly can't remember what we wore underneath our clothes before Lively entered our underwear drawer. From the softest bralettes to the cutest of briefs, LIVELY has made us instant fans. "The concept for LIVELY began around what I always thought was missing from the lingerie category—a brand that delivered on what it means to be sexy today: smart, healthy, active, and confident," says founder Michelle Cordeiro Grant. "We saw a void in the market for bras and undies that delivered on an aesthetic inspired by authenticity and real life. We wanted something that we could live in for 14 hours day, and not compromise on style or comfort. We no longer wanted to choose." As if in answer to our swimsuit woes, this summer, the brand debuted a line of swimwear boasting the most flattering of styles and colorful prints.
DNA: "When beginning design, we wiped the slate clean and just took our time pulling together elements of high style, function, femininity, and comfort that we personally loved. What resulted was an aesthetic that blurs the lines between active, lingerie, and swim. Because we were so authentic in our concept and design process, we, all of sudden, realized we created a whole new product category. It is a new aesthetic that correlates back to the explosion of athleisure; we call it leisurée."
One item from the collection to wear all your life: "New York City's pace is fast. I work a typical schedule of 9:30am to 6:30pm in the office, plus evening hours online after my daughter goes to bed. I love feeling comfortable, so I think my forever piece would be The Deep V No-Wire—it's a total 'work or work-from-home' essential. Perfect for laying in bed, reading emails, or lounging around the house and snuggling with my daughter."
What's next: "LIVELY’s overall mission is to empower, remind, and enable women to live life doing what they love, with the people they love. Today, we are driving this mission by having every woman’s 'back' with leisurée bras and undies, however, we see a future where we will expand into adjacent categories—we just recently launched swim and have our eyes set on active. Most importantly though, 2017 is a year where we want to really let our ethos shine within our community. We plan to put a lot of time and resources towards cities across the country and spending time with the women that support our brand and ethos. We want to give back and truly inspire women in all facets of their lives."
It's been a while since a denim brand came around to disrupt our shopping patterns (the last was DL1961, where Warp + Waft founder, Sarah Ahmed, sharpened her teeth before launching W + W). In addition to offering a line of universally flattering and versatile styles, ranging from skinny to bootcut and high-rise, Warp + Weft sells them all in all-inclusive sizing options that go from 0 to 24. "We set out to create chic, amazing-fitting jeans for everyone. There’s a gap in the fashion industry in which great-fitting, high-quality jeans are only available to a few, so we founded Warp + Weft to change that," says Ahmed. "Built on an everyone-welcome philosophy, we’re inclusive in every way—from production and price to sizing and design." Prepare to get one pair in every style, especially since every product offering is under $100.
DNA: "We believe in making jeans that not only fit perfectly but are extremely comfortable. While other denim brands source their fabrics, we make ours from scratch in our own mill. We do everything from spinning yarn to weaving the final product. Because we own our own mill, we’re able to develop proprietary denim technology with the perfect amount of stretch and retention. Owning our own mill means that we can also rapidly respond to customer feedback and incorporate their ideas into future product releases."
One item from the collection to wear all your life: "Hard to choose, but probably our CDG jean. It’s a chic, high-rise straight style inspired by Paris and available in a few perfect, vintage-inspired washes. The CDG combines authentic denim looks with our signature stretch fabric—so you get the best of both worlds."
What's next: "Right now we're focused on listening closely to what customers are saying about our product. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re so excited to expand our collection of perfect-fitting jeans in the coming months and find new ways to make everyone feel welcome."
No launch was better received in recent years than the California cool brand Reformation. So it makes sense that when former Reformation designer Pia Arrobio set out to start LPA, the fashion words began buzzing in anticipation of what was bound to be the next It Brand. They weren't wrong. "I wanted a creative outlet that didn't follow weird rules or trends," says Arrobio. Enter: cropped cozy knit tops seen on the likes of Gigi Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski, luxe silky fabrics in everyday staples, and exquisite tailoring on everything from culottes to crop tops. LPA makes breaking the rules look really good to us.
DNA: "I don't know if anything is super-different, there is too much access to content and imagery—I just hope the people who wear LPA's clothes feel beautiful and, in turn, attract beautiful things into their life."
One item from the collection to wear all your life: "The slip dresses—literally any of them. I sleep in those things, wear them to work with one of my hoodies, and out at night with an LPA leather [jacket] and a sparkly flat."
What's next: "The brand is getting more refined, the content is getting more personal, and hopefully, overall, it's just growing as I grow."
According to co-founders, Jenna Kerner and Jane Fisher, intimates brand Harper Wilde started with the question "Why are bras so expensive?" "We did a ton of research to figure out why the industry was the way it was, but we just ran into more questions. We didn’t understand why brands were hyper-sexualized, or why typical models did not resemble the everyday woman. We didn’t understand why bras came with embellishments that almost no woman we spoke with enjoyed, let alone purchased," says Fisher. What the two did discover was that women hated buying bras so much, they would rather keep ones they didn't love for longer than advisable than shop for a new one. "One woman even told us, 'Buying bras is like a tax on being female.'” After talking to hundreds of women, they set out to "change the bra industry" and "hone in on simplicity," by creating everyday bras for the real woman's needs.
DNA: "Other companies are innovating on the product, but we realized that it was the experience, not the product, that needed innovation. We spent nearly two years speaking with women and trying to uncover how we could improve bra shopping. What women wanted was to have bra shopping, but without all the bullshit. We got rid of lengthy surveys, measuring tapes, calculus, and the overwhelming assortment of options with bells and whistles. In its place, we provide free home try-ons, thoughtful designs, fair prices, and an empowering purpose. We call it 'rahopping:' bra shopping, without the BS."—Kerner
One item from the collection to wear all your life: "I’d have to go with The Base. The cups are some of the softest I’ve ever encountered. I could live in it—I practically do now. The J-hook in the back, the front-adjustable straps—even the features I didn’t know I needed or wanted in an everyday bra have become some of the parts I love most. Early sales show it may be a customer favorite, as well, and word on the street is that, one customer said, 'it’s like a pillow for my chest!'"—Kerner
What's next: "We are small now, but we are focusing on expanding sizes and skin-toned colors as quickly as we can. We aim to be the go-to for an easy shopping experience and fairly-priced everyday bras. We also have a very serious mission to Lift Up the Ladies. Not only do we lift a woman’s ladies through our products, but we have partnered with The Girl Project to help put young girls through school, so we can also lift the next generation of leading ladies."—Fisher
Those who value Made in America fashion, know what an ambitious endeavor it is to make sunglasses stateside. This is one of the reasons why the New York-based brand Lowercase, the state’s only eyewear manufacturer founded by Gerard Masci and Brian Vallario, is so impressive; the other is that they simply make cool-looking sunglasses with one-of-a-kind details. "At 13, I wore my first pair of glasses, and I’ve been collecting them ever since. Through my collecting, and some research, it occurred to me that American eyewear manufacturing had moved almost entirely overseas, leaving a huge hole in the market for locally made frames," says Masci. "It was a chance to bring back a craft that had long since disappeared. We believe that consumers increasingly care about where and how their products are made, and our process speaks directly to those values." With an emphasis on craftsmanship, each frame, from prototyping to production and packaging, is taken through the process step-by-step by the skilled experts at the Brooklyn Army Terminal workshop.
DNA: "Our approach to design and manufacturing sets us apart from the rest of the market. We are proud to be vertically integrated as it allows us to explore the intersection of craftsmanship and technology. We conceive, design, and manufacture all of our frames at our workshop in Brooklyn, which allows us to have greater control over quality, design, and time to market. We’re in a position to provide options to the consumer that aren’t usually possible. For example, we’ll occasionally offer limited-editions—we might find a piece of vintage acetate and make 20 frames from it, which isn’t feasible if you outsource the manufacturing."
One item from the collection to wear all your life: "Rebel Rebel. I have a particular affinity for the Demi Fade colorway. When worn on the face, the Demi Fade comes across as black to many who see it, but the subtle color fade from brown to gray is a subtle detail that is always appreciated by the wearer. We value small details like these that might not be apparent at first glance but are discovered and appreciated over time."
What's next: "We designed our first collection as a solid base to grow from. Having design and production under the same roof allows us to experiment with things like finishing, design details, and colorways in a way that other brands can’t. We’re also working on collaborating with some other like-minded brands, and our e-commerce platform is launching this summer."
Two of the reasons why we love the rise of direct-to-consumer fashion: (1) affordable prices for high-quality products (2) the emergence of up-and-coming brands that would otherwise not be able to sustain department store-induced markups and wholesale costs. "Drawing on my 10 years in the swimwear industry, I noticed wholesale and retail were shifting. I also knew that women like us—who love to explore and enjoy adventure—were looking for swimwear that not only felt and looked good but that really moved with them," says Lori Coulter, founder and CEO of swimwear brand SUMMERSALT. "So we created SUMMERSALT to provide designer swimwear without the designer price tag and a brand that stood for the way we live our lives—beyond the lounge chair." With Reshma Chamberlin as co-founder and chief brand and digital officer, Coulter set out to design a line of eco-friendly swimsuits for the women who refuse to be limited by an intricate style with no function—with each style under $95 at that.
DNA: "Our collection is athleisure-inspired without being exclusively for sport. We did away with most hardware to make it easy to put on and stay on, no matter what adventure. Our product includes best in class features from designer swimwear, like great fit and incredible quality—five times more durable than traditional swim fabric, UV protective, retains its shape. It was also important that we created a company that was committed to responsible commerce from day one. All our swimwear is made from recycled materials, and we continue to streamline, making our processes as eco-friendly as possible."—Chamberlin
What's next: "Limited-edition pieces and collections, interesting collaborations, pop-ups including our custom popsicle cart, and bringing SUMMERSALT to women across the U.S."—Chamberlin.