The world of fashion is ever-evolving, and I think that right now is one of the most exciting times to discover new talent. With fewer barriers to entry, more designers are launching brands around their personal visions and forward-thinking ideas, and we’re turning to them for fresh takes on style that are destined to leave a mark on the fashion landscape.
Rather than traditional avenues that have historically involved landing deals with established retailers, many brands are able to get a start with an Instagram account and a direct-to-consumer business model. These platforms allow them more freedom to carve out their unique concepts, craft stunning imagery, build an audience, and speak to their consumers about what’s important to them. It also means a larger and more diverse pool of talent bringing original ideas to reshape fashion.
Here, we’re taking a look at the next generation of labels that are carving out what the future of fashion looks like. Each of these brands has an undeniable talent for design, but their visions go beyond just amazing products. They’re ushering in new standards for size inclusivity, rethinking what sustainable fashion looks like, challenging stereotypical representations of diversity, reimagining unisex design, and paving the way for more women and people of color at the top. Ahead, discover five exciting brands pushing fashion to the future.
Designer Teni “Tia” Adeola got her start from her college dorm room after she was flooded with DMs from people asking to order the designs she posted. “I woke up one day and found people requesting to buy the random samples I was making for myself and was posting on social media,” Adeola told us, “so I decided to start selling the pieces.”
What started out as a side project soon turned into a full-fledged business, and it wasn’t long before major celebs started wearing her eye-catching tops and dresses—pieces that tap into her art history education and reimagine voluminous silhouettes from the Renaissance period. She realized the brand was really gaining momentum when SZA wore a pink ruffle skort set to Coachella. “It sold out immediately after,” she explained. Soon, her designs were spotted on celebrities such as Lizzo, Dua Lipa, and Gigi Hadid—all before her 23rd birthday.
Getting an early start, Adeola also represents a young generation of designers whose brands are built around more than just beautiful products. As she looks to the future, she aims to be a ladder to help others up and hopes to pave the way for others like her to succeed, particularly women and people of color.
Started as a side project by husband and wife Ola and Cerise Alabi, Cold Laundry focuses on design and aesthetics, yes, but core to the label is a commitment to unisex design. Its collection of suiting and lounge sets is dreamed up in a soothing palette of soft pastels with loose, modern fits designed to be worn across all genders. “We are enjoying being able to create collections that can be worn and enjoyed by everyone,” Cerise Alabi explained. “We also believe fashion should be unconfined. We should all have the freedom to wear what we want and how we want, so we are proud to contribute to blurring that line.”
The collection of elevated loungewear and soft suiting is particularly well-timed for the current climate, in which many of us are rethinking how we're getting dressed. The pieces have become so popular that Cold Laundry can barely keep its top-selling track sets in stock.
Model and former fashion editor Lauren Chan launched Henning when she wasn’t able to find the type of clothing she wanted to wear. “I was showing up to work at places from the Glamour office to the set of the Today show to fashion weeks around the world, and all around me, my smaller peers were wearing designer clothing,” Chan told us. “In contrast, I was wearing cheap, fast fashion, and the message I absorbed over time was that I was of lesser value than them—the exact message that fashion aims to portray by leaving plus-size women out of the luxury conversation.” Tired of being unable to find a range of high-end size-inclusive pieces to wear herself, Chan decided to start her own brand. “Henning exists to change that narrative and to tell women of all sizes that they are high-value people,” Chan explained.
After launching in 2019, her inbox was soon overflowing with DMs requesting to dress celebrities like Serena Williams and Ashley Graham, but it is the messages from shoppers that have really stuck with Chan. “The single best thing that a customer ever said to me via DM was that Henning's clothing changed the way she felt about herself, for the better,” Chan shared. “That sentiment is the exact reason that the brand exists, and I was incredibly moved that it caused such a positive reaction in another person.”
Combining her obsessions with bodice pieces and thrift shopping, Kayla Famurewa decided to launch her brand Almost on Time, focusing on handmade corsets constructed from vintage sweatshirts. As part of the growing sustainability movement, she takes it one step further by using upcycled materials and aims to inspire people to wear vintage clothing and materials in a new way. One way she does this is by showing behind-the-scenes looks at every step of the design process on Instagram. “I know that knowledge of where clothing comes from and who/how it is made is becoming more and more important to people (including myself),” Famurewa explained. “I share my creative process from what I use to make the garments and new design samples I am working on to organizing photo shoots and photographing the finished products."
Once the new products drop, she posts images of them styled in her signature outfits of matching sweatpants or a vintage men’s dress shirt. Everything that Famurewa makes is either one-of-a-kind or produced in very small quantities, so the pieces sell out quickly. If you’re hoping to add one to your cart, you might want to set a notification so you know the moment it’s available.
With soft draping and a knack for artful designs, Notion of Form’s pieces immediately stand out—and the same can be said for its stunning photos. When Swedish designer Mina Lundgren founded the brand, she set out to change stereotypical representations of diversity. “I hope to challenge how people understand and see the body, with all its differences and similarities, and to lift their eyes beyond convention,” Lundgren explained.
A quick scroll through its Instagram and you’ll notice a fresh take on size inclusivity that is central to the brand. Through imagery, Lundgren aims to show a more inclusive range of body types so women can see themselves represented. When we chatted with her, she emphasized how she aspires to be an integral part of how fashion is reshaped for the future. “I also hope that with my label, I can broaden the idea of what fashion is, can be, and who it’s for,” she said.