RISE AND CONQUER: 12 Fashion Brands You Need To Know
Social media, especially Instagram, has made way for new emerging talent in the fashion world. Black, Brown, Queer and especially self-taught designers who can’t afford 4 years at F.I.T or CSM have taken to the internet to showcase their talent and grow their following by doing what they love best. Many of these artists have a specific point of view, marching to the beat of their own drum, creating pieces out of pure joy rather than to fit into a mould created by the fashion elite. Unfortunately, when someone from a marginalised group creates something new and exciting it usually doesn’t get any recognition until someone white and/or well-connected copies them and passes it off as their own. Chapter Z exists as a platform to give these artists their flowers and help them receive the notoriety they deserve.
P.S. All fashion is gender-neutral if you try hard enough.
Hailing from the land where everything grows, Nigeria, Orange Culture is leading the charge in contemporary ready-to-wear fashion. Adebayo Oke-Lawal has been designing since the age of 10 and describes the brand as a movement’ rather than a label. Orange Culture combines the bold colours of Adebayo’s Nigerian heritage with androgynous shapes, breaking the strict gender norms of Nigerian society, creating a sense of freedom for anyone who wears one of his pieces.
Shop Orange Culture here.
Follow Orange Culture here.
As well as creating magic with fabric and a sewing machine Nelly Co boasts “Custom designs cut for your body”. Not everyone can fit “standard” sizes. We’ve all been there when you’re a size 12 in one store, 14 in another and for some reason, you can slip into an XS in this shop. Humans come in all different shapes and sizes so having a brand that is built on creating absolute looks that will fit like a glove is very much needed in 2021.
Follow Nelly Co here.
KMABEL is a forward-thinking brand that believes in the power of positive action and invests the profits in improving the lives of hearing-impaired young people. KMABEL wants to give you fashion that does not cause hurt, from reducing the carbon footprint to using sustainable management methods.
Shop KMABLE here.
Follow KMABEL here.
Award-winning Australian designer Dion Lee is known for his contemporary tailoring and penchant for luxurious fabrics. His experimental construction pioneers a modern aesthetic and appreciates the feminine form, hugging and sculpting the body to creating living works of art in every collection. Lee states that the architectural silhouettes his garments create are dissected to enhance movement and the flow of air and light. His garments are timeless and he’s a designer that ensures he doesn’t compromise his vision or aesthetic when designing unisex clothes. This is something that’s very refreshing and I’m sure we’ll see many designers start to adopt to keep up with society’s move towards genderless bliss.
Shop Dion Lee here.
Follow Dion Lee here.
Leak Your Sex Tape
“Underwear Art for Queer Bodies” is the headline on Louis Dorantes’ website. The brand was built to create nightlife attire, performance pieces, and lingerie for beautiful QUEER folx. This is a brand that understands the need for queer people especially queer male presenting people to feel sexy and powerful in lingerie. LYST create made to measure garments to ensure they fit all shapes and sizes. LYST is an ongoing collaboration, creating a network of New York-based artists to ensure the platform is used to elevate creatives from different marginalised groups.
Shop Leak Your Sex Tape here.
Follow Leak Your Sex Tape here.
Kasia Kucharaska is designing as you’ve never seen before. The Berlin-based designer turns silicone lace into crop tops, shorts and, figure-hugging bodysuits. Kasia’s love and extensive knowledge of architecture acquired at the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan has further fueled her take on deconstructed fashion. This allows her to create these truly unique pieces that not only add an element on whimsy & youth to the garment but give texture and life to anything you choose to pair one of her pieces with. In an interview, Kaisia states that her pieces are “for people seeking pleasure because ultimately we need escapes, fun and to dance with people we love.” This is an ethos that anyone can get behind and should put a smile on the face of anyone lucky enough to get their hands on one of her creations.
Shop Kasia Kucharaska here.
Follow Kasia Kucharaska here.
Telfar is a brand that is unisex to its core. The forward-thinking take on inclusive fashion comes from the brilliant mind of self-taught designer Telfar Clemens who has been creating his iconic pieces since 2005. But the hottest item in this designer’s arsenal is the vegan leather shopping bags. Its one of those bags that everyone seems to have but nobody can get. They sell out in literal minutes and you NEED to be on the waiting list with 3 devices open, a strong internet connection and an offering ready to whichever deity you worship. I personally have tried twice to get one but my Twitter fingers just haven’t been fast enough so I live vicariously through the brands hilarious and captivating Instagram stories. Telfar has a recent collab with Convers (which surprise surprise is al sold out) and has previously worked with Gap and other very well known brands.
Shop Telfar here.
Follow Telfar here.
Patrick Church is a young, queer British born artist currently living in New York City. His work is easily recognisable and transfers perfectly onto any medium. He paints from a personal point of view and draws his inspiration from his memoirs that bare his many successes and failures, “riddled with humiliation and desire in turn”. His art is fashion and vice versa, boldly exploring sexuality, intimacy and vulnerability through the use of vivid colours and text to reﬂect Patrick’s own character and experiences. He’s a creator that wears his heart on his sleeves then puts all those emotions on canvases or items of clothing to tell the story of his journey so far.
Shop Patrick Chruch here.
Follow Patrick Chruch here.
Weslah is a brand that is about pushing the boundaries of fashion and gender. The garments are created to inspire and empower wearers to express themselves freely and live in the world created by the concept brand. These garments are for those of us who see fashion as an extension of our being and dress solely for ourselves. Weslah’s designs show stoppers and the brand has already created custom pieces for the likes of Kali Uchis, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Azealia Banks so you know we’re all waiting to see what designer Wesley Berryman has coming next. There’s a dark twisted fantasy ingrained deep in his aesthetic that I just can’t get enough of.
Shop Weslah here.
Follow Weslah here.
Luis De Javier
Having a Drag Race icon, let alone the snatched waist siren herself, Violet Chachki, model your debut collection tells us all we need to know about Luis De Javier. These eye-catching pieces focus on creating distorted silhouettes and emphasising the waist to create a feeling of opulence and grandeur. This is a collection that gives full fantasy and doesn’t shy away from showing a little skin as a bold nod to how queer culture has influenced this designer through his teen years.
Shop Luis De Javier here.
Follow Luis De Javier here.
Hanfia stunned us all with a virtual fashion show using 3D models to make sure all the focus was on its custom prints and sensational designs. Anifa taught herself about 3-D modelling, using YouTube and Google as resources and became a trailblazer when COVID cancelled fashion week. Before showing her collection, the film led with a heartwrenching video educating viewers about abuse & use of child labour in the coltan mines located in her ancestral home, The Democratic Republic of Congo. By utilizing bold colours and luxurious fabrics this brand focuses on illuminating natural curves for limitless womxn. Their sizing goes up to a 3X (dress size 22-24) because everyone who chooses Hanifa deserves to feel beautiful no matter your body shape. Anifa Mvuemba launched Hanifa back in 2012 as a “chic, contemporary, and timeless brand” and 9 years later it very much lives up to that.
Shop Hanifa here.
Follow Hanifa here.
Learn more about Coltan mining here.
Mowalola Ogunlesi is an incredibly talented designer who is so ahead of the curve. Take for example the infamous ‘Bullet Dress’ as seen on Naomi Campbell. At the time the garments were heavily criticised as they were seen as a “glamorization of gun violence” but some have read it as a social commentary on the experience of Black women constantly having a target no their backs. She drew her inspiration from a broken heart and “being in love with someone that was crazy”. It’s easy to ascribe deep meanings to art created by Black bodies but we too should be able to express our emotions in the same way as our white counterparts without having to be a social activist or a spokesperson for our entire race. Mowalolas creations are a psychedelic display of her Nigerian heritage & upbringing and her love for music, film and people.
Follow Mowalola Here.