One of the best ways to nurture your fashion knowledge of up-and-coming brands is to follow Net-a-Porter’s Vanguard program. Since 2018, Net-a-Porter has curated a shortlist of designers it predicts to have enormous growth potential. Then, through mentorships and other supportive resources offered, the retailer works alongside the creatives to expand their global presence and become the powerhouses they’re destined to be. Today, the e-commerce giant welcomed a host of fresh designers to its 2021 Vanguard program.
The group includes nascent brands like Connor Ives, Interior, and Renaissance Renaissance. Also included in this year’s program are Sindiso Khumalo and Lukhanyo Mdingi, two sustainable and mindful brands that both happen to be based out of Cape Town. KHIRY, a jewelry brand inspired by the African diaspora and Afro-futurism, also joins this year’s crop of up-and-comers.
“Doing [the Vanguard program] is indicative that the industry and the world is changing. The other cause for hope is not merely in the reception we receive as designers, but the strength we build together,” said Jameel Mohammed, founder and designer of KHIRY, in a press statement. “This is a moment of empowerment; it’s a collaboration of Black and non-Black creators that can and will be the site of change. This is where it starts.”
As well as introducing 2021’s Vanguard selects, Net-a-Porter announced the launch of The Vanguard Education Fund in partnership with the British Fashion Council. The fund will work with a network of universities to foster creative talent and help budding designers as they enter the industry.
“Our goal is to ensure that the next generation of creative talent is given early support to enable their success before they embark on their professional journey,” said Lea Cranfield, chief buying and merchandising officer of Net-a-Porter. “We see this as especially important given the challenges the pandemic has brought to the creative industry and, most notably, at a grass-roots level.”
Net-a-Porter also curated items from each of the designers in the ‘21 class and listed them on net-a-porter.com, alongside pieces from Vanguard alumnae and, now, cult-favorite brands Christopher John Rogers, Peter Do, and Minjukim. You’ll find a few of those pre-selected items included, below.
Once you shop a few pieces from the buzzy brands ahead, you can subtly brag (in good conscience) to your fashion friends about your discovery of the fresh designers before they become super mainstream. Because, let’s be honest, acquiring a little bit of “I knew them before they were everywhere” fashion cachet admittedly does feel good.
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.