Net-a-Porter fashion director Lisa Aiken travels the world, attending fashion weeks everywhere from Sydney, Australia to Tbilisi, Georgia, in search of under-the-radar designers to introduce to Net-a-Porter's shoppers. After years of success bringing breakout brands like Rixo London and Wandler into the spotlight, Net-a-Porter has launched The Vanguard for Fall/Winter 2018. This formalized program will support and cultivate the next big designers, guiding them through their first seasons of growth.
"We love seeing brands from both the major fashion capitals and remote destinations that don’t necessarily have strong roots in the industry," Aiken tells TZR.
For its first season, The Vanguard consists of four brands from around the world: Les Reveries (New York City), RUH (also New York City), Gu_de (South Korea), and Souliers Martinez (Spain and France). If you aren't familiar with any yet, don't worry — that's exactly the point. With the mentorship and guidance of Net-a-Porter, the aim is to transform these under-the-radar lines into household names (well, in homes that speak fluent fashion, at least).
"While they are all from different parts of the globe, the unifying factor is that they all have strong backgrounds in design, inspiring stories, and their own aesthetic that we know the Net-a-Porter customer will love," Aiken says.
A new group of designers will join the program each season, with advisors to help them with everything from buying to marketing to business strategy. Long story short: Net-a-Porter is betting on these up-and-comers, and you should, too.
Below, you'll find a breakdown of the inaugural group of designers, along with shopping links so you can add them to your closet now... before they're everywhere.
For the woman who likes to keep a bit of mystery about her, the refined thoughtfulness of the brand is intended to be a foil to the overexposure of the digital age. "RUH is a ready-to-wear label committed to retaining a private sense of identity," says Aiken, adding that the brand's greatest strengths are "refined silhouettes and grown-up elegance."
"Les Reveries is founded by two sisters from New York City who have an eye for feminine prints and layering," notes Aiken. The brand's delicate floral dresses have already become a quick favorite for editors and influencers alike.
If you're of the mindset that you can never have too many shoes, then this is the vanguard brand to keep an eye on. Aiken says, "Souliers Martinez is a French and Spanish shoe brand made with intricate lacing based on traditional craftsmanship done in a modern way." The woven details on the pumps and boots have a classic bent while the shoes still feel modern thanks to sculptural heels and modern sock silhouettes.
In the past, Net-a-Porter has helped launch young bag brands like Wandler and Danse Lente, and with the launch of The Vanguard, the new bag brand poised to have a moment is Gu_de. "Gu_de is a handbag line from South Korea that draws inspiration from the 1970s," says Aiken. The clean, classic silhouettes in rich croc-effect are polished, with a vintage twist.