Before second-skin tops officially became a thing late last year, they were all I would see on my daily work commute into Manhattan. Before Telfar became a global phenomenon, gracing Oprah Winfrey's Favorite Things List, it was the bag brand of choice for my Brooklyn fashion friends in the industry. If you notice a style or brand suddenly gaining favor within the city's creative community, chances are it'll be the next thing the rest of the globe is watching.
Essentially, what I'm getting at is that New Yorkers are pretty darn good at trend prediction. It's usually a long path for a thing to become a certified trend, but 99% of the time, where this trail begins is with the new or underground brands that build a devoted following. To get an idea of which names will be in the spotlight next year, I conducted an informal poll to see which emerging brands New Yorkers are clinging to the most. From sustainable loungewear labels to quirky, niche accessories, these are the designers and brands making waves right now in the city that never sleeps.
Last year while I was doing research for another article, a friend suggested I check out Marshall Columbia, and it didn't take long for me to fall in love with its quirky and colorful pieces. Named after the designer behind the brand, Columbia launched in the midst of the pandemic in 2020 and has already been a go-to for sartorial risk-takers in New York. Dua Lipa and Miley Cyrus have worn its beaded and cutout pieces, and Ssense just picked up the label, so expect to see a lot more of it soon.
If New Yorkers need one thing, it's space. From apartments to subway commutes, space becomes a premium in a city filled with more than 8 million people. This same logic applies to handbags. When walking is the main mode of transportation, a purse that can hold all of the day's essentials (and anything that might be accumulated along the way) is a must. Canadian brand OMW Bags is a godsend for that reason. Made out of knitted, stretchy material, its pieces are roomy to the max, but in a way that's neither frumpy nor pedestrian.
Here's one of those "if you know, you know" hidden gems. Savant Studios is a Brooklyn-based boutique that's enjoyed a cult following for its handcrafted leather pieces and uplifting graphic hoodies and shirts. Spearheaded by Michael Graham and a crew of creatives, the store also serves as a hub for community projects and other arts events in Bedstuy. The brand's hats are some of my personal favorites.
Hard-core swimwear fanatics may already be familiar with Louisa Ballou, but if you have yet to discover its edgy dresses and bikinis, let me introduce you. The eponymous label hasn't been around long but has catapulted this year, appearing on the likes of SZA and Renell Medrano.
Since going to the beach isn't a huge part of New York City culture—other than a few summer trips to Far Rockaway or Broadway Beach—swimwear often has to pull double duty. Louisa Ballou's collection of printed, skin-revealing dresses and suits hit that coveted mix of swimwear and ready-to-wear, so it's good on the sand as well as the streets. Another connection to the city: Everything is made in New York.
If the past year has taught us anything, it's that loungewear can never be overrated. Buci is the latest name to know in a wave of cozy loungewear brands, but the emerging label does things a bit differently: Each item is made in New York City's garment district, constructed out of sustainably sourced fabrics like organic cotton and deadstock materials. Although the brand's terry cloth shorts would make a great partner for sitting on your couch, Buci also designs beautiful, minimalist separates that should earn a spot in your daily summer uniform.
Ask any cool Brooklyn fashion person about a brand they're most excited about, and I guarantee Raini Home will get a mention. A home décor offshoot of beloved Bedstuy boutique Sincerely, Tommy, the company sells a collection of artisan-crafted objects and small-batch furniture pieces. People with keen eyes are likely already familiar with its black-and-cream striped side table (it's a favorite on IG) and brutalist-style sling chair.