Shopping at the moment is no mean feat. Between the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and new-ins, there’s plenty of possible purchases to be made from some of our favourite high street retailers and high-end designers, but if ever there’s a time to support small businesses, it’s now. Independent shopping is my kryptonite; I adore the feeling of acquiring something thoughtful and curated, pieces which have often been made in small batches and with ethical production at the forefront, making it an even more special experience. Alongside pre-loved sites, shopping small is fast become the antidote to fast fashion.
I started shopping small years ago, initially influenced by my Dad’s love of vintage and later becoming well versed on the nuances of sustainability, including fibres, production and scales of clothing being produced. Now, I hardly buy anything new and when I do it’s a meticulous process, starting with second-hand and independent brands before venturing to the high street for better materials.
After the switch, what I lost in instant gratification and impulsive buys I more than made up for with my ever-growing roster of indie brands whose beautiful creations are landing on my wish list by the day. And because of this, I’m always keen to shine a light on consignment stores, independent brands and pre-loved sites.
On Avalon: Coutille's Romy Dress
If I hadn’t already whetted my appetite for niche brands this year, I attended 080 Barcelona Fashion Week this autumn and witnessed some small European brands showcase their collections in real life. I left feeling inspired ahead of the winter season and upon my return, scoured the internet to find the pieces and brands that had caught my eye.
My standout brand this month is Coutille. You may have seen the brand’s 24/hr slip dress doing the rounds on Instagram, (Who What Wear UK's Editor in Chief Hannah Almassi owns this dress, too), and let me tell you, it's even more special in real life. With an expert bias cut it celebrates the female form like no other piece in my wardrobe. Plus, it's easy to dress up or down with a quick change of layers and accessories. Win, win!
So, whether you’re looking for new knitwear, small leather goods, a fancy frock or outerwear you'll love for years, keep reading for my ultimate small brand edit. After all, December is the perfect time to shop small and treat a loved one ( or yourself) to a one-off piece.
SHOP MY SMALL BRAND EDIT FOR DECEMBER:
I instantly felt sexy when I draped this silky slip over my body. It’s aptly named the 24/7 dress as it’s made to transcend day-to-night occasions. The magic is in the thick lace straps and v-shaped seams that hugs the curves.
There are many ways to do animal print and tortoiseshell is the most subdued. Although it's striking, the opaque aspect is sure to be a favourite of minimalists.
A sustainable brand you need to know if you're hankering for sleek tailoring. The subtle waist nip is akin to high fashion retailers.
Although many of Palmer Harding's designs are summery, this Grecian-inspired top screams cocktail party.
The party dress of dreams!
Ahluwalia is a brand with Indian-Nigerian heritage which translates to unique designs. The patchwork and pleated skirting is a nod to this season's trends, whilst feeling wearable for day-to-day.
Patou has indulged my love of puff sleeves. The bigger the sleeves the better.
I road-tested Good News trainers over the summer and I'm eyeing up some of the other designs. Swap canvas trainers for these this autumn.
Although Ruhe is in its infancy, they've excelled at producing core wardrobe staples. These expresso pants can be worn year-round. Pop a knit over the top and you're good to go.
J&M Davidson bags are as classic as they come. Bucket bags are forever, especially when lacquered in neutral hues like so.
Between the glossy sheen, knotted handle and brown hue, this conquer-esque bag is truly unique.
I'm a lover of pearl jewels and I adore the nonchalant vibe of this organic misshapen pair.
The way to do gingham this autumn. I love the inverted triangle piping on the full skirt as it breaks up the material.
If you're mourning the woven handbag the beaded equivalent will offer a similar bohemian vibe for the winter. You can even wear this as a party handbag.
Between the plisse, crinkled shoulder detail and fluted skirt - it's perfect.
To say I've fallen for Heavenly London's art deco jewels would be an understatement. Think Great Gatsby - 1920s glam and opulence. It's one to put on your Christmas wishlist.
I'm desperate for a large enough (but chic) travel bag and this woven style ticks all of the boxes.
Not only is every part of Dai's production considered - but they also produce timeless styles with clean lines like these jeans. As part of their current Smart Works partnership, Dai is helping clothe women for career success.
Chances are you've seen the scarf coat memo. If like me you're head over heels for the trend then look to brands like Thiliko. They offer timeless iterations of designer pieces. This sage green scarf coat is breathtaking and I'm not usually one for colour.
Pearls are big in every way this year. These organic-shaped disks are my favourite types to wear as they're more modern than the typical uniform shape.
I'm a dress girl but co-ords are a close second. I was inspired by the styles on the catwalk at 080 Barcelona Fashion Week and this was one. A classic, streamlined fit that'll never date.
Winnoh is the brand to watch if you're in the market for classic mules, particularly wide-fitting. I was impressed by their inclusivity which is rare in the footwear industry. Bonus points for the cylindrical heel too - every detail counts.
Although most party bags are bejewelled for A/W, Isla Risa offers an alternative for partygoers that want a slightly pared bag (but chic) style. This bag is also available to borrow via John Lewis' new rental platform.
It's officially slip dress season and whilst most styles have spaghetti straps, this piece offers an asymmetric neckline with a cowl neck. From fancy dates to parties, it's a piece to fall back on - with bold jewels, of course. It's the festive season, after all.
Wraparound tops never date. This style from Seek Collective is particularly modern as it bears a thick waistband with contrast stitching.
Duo boots offer chic and timeless wide-fitting boots. The burgundy hue will pair well with emerald green jewels. Did I mention it has a memory foam insole?
I'm forever adding pre-loved sites like Pre Clothed to my radar. It's where you'll find unique gems like this menswear-inspired blazer. It's a swoon-worthy composition of silk and linen.
Indigo denim with pops of yellow stitching is a trend infiltrating the denim space and I'm certainly not complaining.
If the occasion calls for it, I wear my linen pieces throughout the year. The exposed back detail lends itself to the party season.
Leather coats are bigger than ever this year, so it was a real treat to find this indie brand offering by Deadwood Studios. I adore the relaxed lapels and the cropped arms will work best for petite frames.
If you're looking for a cocktail gown this season Filiarmi is a brand you should have on your radar. They have a small batch production and classic silhouettes with alluring twists (like this scalloped bust detail). Pair it with glitzy shoes and you're Christmas party ready.
The crisp autumn months come with inevitable drizzle but thankfully chic raincoats like this will bring joy to rainy days.
'Tis the season for cashmere and this yarn looks extra plush. The taught crew neck style offers a timeless feel. It's the style of knitwear you need in your arsenal every autumn.
I love the feminine look stacking rings lend to an outfit. Stack them high or low.
It's sleek, made-to-measure, and timeless (take a gander at the embossing) - a piece that's guaranteed to last.
The ballerina revival has divided opinion this year. This is a more grown-up iteration thanks to the elongated, rounded toe and wooden sole.
Avalon Afriyie is a freelance writer and storyteller based in London. She specialises in sustainable fashion, health and the narratives of marginalised communities.
She has a background in fashion show production and styling, having previously worked on The Clothes Show and with the Lyst Group. Since graduating in 2013 with a BA (Hons) in English and contemporary media, she’s worked as a feature writer for an independent publication and a contributor for Quill’s creator network. She now marries her passion for words and style, writing for some of the most esteemed fashion and lifestyle publications, Who What Wear UK and Stylist.
Avalon also provides copywriting services, creative consultancy, and visual media for independent businesses, including travel guides, interviews, press releases and blog posts. Her work has been featured on Lush, Contiki, Youswim and Ohne.
She spends her days writing to her heart’s content for business and pleasure, shooting on film and dreaming of residing a stone’s throw away from the ocean with her love and a pup (clad in a sweeping frock, of course). She’s currently penning ideas for a book of personal essays and free verse poetry on love, life and the stages in between.
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