Fashion is in a golden age of minimalism. '90s and aughts-inspired style is at the crux of many an Instagram saved folders, filled with pared-back clothing and accessories. In turn, refreshed takes on impeccably cut slips, uncomplicated staples like tees and shirts, and immaculate tailoring abounds, often to be paired with barely-there sandals, sleek sneakers, and slim bags. Big-name labels like The Row, Vince, and Calvin Klein are synonymous with this simplified aesthetic. However, an alternative is to shop small and emerging brands for minimalist clothing to set your look apart and support a burgeoning business at once. What's more, smaller brands are revered for bringing more diverse and distinctive sensibilities to the market, whether it's a focus on artisanal techniques from around the globe, understated yet experimental approaches to design, or invigorating classics through unexpected materials, unique silhouettes, and directional detailing. Minimalism may be simple, but it isn't all the same.
To discover small brands to shop for minimalist clothing — whether your style is uncomplicated and sleek, or you're one to dabble and appreciate pared-back pieces here and there — keep scrolling for six on the rise. From an affordable Nigeria-based brand to locally-made labels out of London and Italy, all six are sharing their take on the minimalist style movement, highlighting their must-have pieces, and recommending summer outfit formulas for you to try. Keep reading for the scoop with pieces from each collection available to shop.
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Emerging Minimalist Brands: Tove
Camille Perry and Holly Wright are the duo behind Tove, a London-based brand that strikes a perfect balance of modernity with femininity with each minimalist piece. "Our collections are born out of our desire to create a timeless wardrobe of sustainable pieces that are beautifully made," Perry tells TZR. "Every aspect of each piece is meticulously considered." With offerings that range from gathered cotton dresses to draped tops and crinkle-silk trousers, every item stands out, but with a versatility that never looks overpowering. "We understand how busy the lives of modern women are, balancing life between work and family, just as we do," Wright says of their design vision. "Our pieces are paired back and versatile with modern detailing. They feel incredible to wear and are designed to last a lifetime."
Perry says her must-have minimalist piece is an artful blouse, like Tove's Leone top. "I wear it constantly! It works perfectly with denim however, when worn back with a more formal trouser, it transforms into the ultimate outfit for a relaxed evening dinner." Wright says that a black trouser, like Tove's Remi trouser, is her number-one minimalist go-to. "It's a classic, beautifully made pair of trousers [and] looks great worn with a T-shirt during the daytime. For evenings, I pair it with our Marlowe top."
When it comes to styling minimalist pieces for summer, both Wright and Perry think the season's inherent ease lends itself to a seamless, day-to-evening style. "My formula is to wear pieces that transition from day to night, in fabrics perfect for the season," says Wright. "I like to keep it simple with a crisp cool cotton dress like our Ceres dress, which I love for its versatility—worn back with minimal flat sandals."
"Our Solene dress is perfect to wear on a warm summer day by the beach or for an evening occasion," Perry adds. "I love the dramatic low-back detail which, combined with the clean organic cotton means that the dress looks modern and refined in both environments. My signature look is to pair this back with simple heavy understated jewelry, completely elevating this dress for an evening occasion."
Emerging Minimalist Brands: Míe
Launched in August of 2018, Míe is a Lagos-based brand that uses natural, breathable, and biodegradable fabrics to craft refined and functional attire. The label, founded by Damie Idowu, is rooted in consciousness as local Nigerian seamstresses and artisans make every piece with a brand-mission of creating feel-good fashion that's, at once, sustainable. "I subscribe [to minimalism], but I'm not restricted to keeping it simple and minimal, and that is also apparent in my designs," Idowu tells TZR. "I think that if there are ninety-nine problems in the world, my clothes should not be one. Minimalist style is fuss-free, timeless, elegant, and it simply gets the job done."
You'll discover waist-wrapping bralette tops, simple puff-sleeve dresses, and sleek, corseted silhouettes in Míe's collection. Still, Idowu champions a white lightweight shirtdress like the Oniru Shirtdress, as her must-have minimalist piece. "From serving as a cover-up on lazy days by the sea to being an easy dress for sunset drinks, tie the belt that comes with it, and pair with barely-there kitten heels. You really can not go wrong with a shirtdress, I think," she says. As for her favorite minimalist summer outfit, Idowu says her ideal formula involves a full-and-free maxi dress that bares the back, matched with barely-there sandals or flats.
Emerging Minimalist Brands: Esse Studios
For founder and creative director of the Australian label Esse Studios, Charlotte Hicks, minimalism is all about the simple pleasures, which is demonstrated through the brand's understated and sustainable approach to elevated, timeless classics. "There's a humility and sense of awareness about minimalism that I subscribe to," Hicks tells TZR. "Whether your day is more about practicality, functionality, or even escapism and indulgence, minimalism can be about all those things, but doing it in a way that isn't compromising something else, it's considerate. It strips every back, removes the noise and allows you to appreciate the simple things, and how they make you feel."
Hicks' top choice pick when it comes to minimalist staples starts with tailoring. "I cannot go past a blazer, in any shape or size. It says everything I want it to say and makes me feel the most me," she says. Similarly, the designer equally favors relaxed styling with tailored pieces, especially in the summer. "A classic relaxed, lightweight summer trouser and a little top or even a shirt is always a winning formula. It's all in the fabric, it's that perfect blend of masculine and feminine. Comfort and ease with a little indulgence."
Emerging Minimalist Brands: Refine
No minimalist wardrobe is complete without a perfect silk slip, camisole, and skirt. Thus making Refine a must-try label that's rooted in ethos (the brand prides itself on supporting local European communities and keeping the carbon footprint and waste throughout its production chain as low as possible).
"Refine is all about the perfect shape and the beauty of well-executed simplicity," founder Anina Heé tells TZR. "If there are no distractions in design, its components become more important ... the fabric, the shape, the story." Heé goes on to explain why she doesn't care for the term "minimalist" to describe her collection. "There's nothing minimalist about the make and quality of our pieces. Our silk is heavy and luxurious, and our designs are very technical. Refine pieces are 'minimalist' in the sense that they quietly highlight a woman's beauty. They are empowering, not overpowering her."
Offering a tightly-edited assortment is silk staples, it's no wonder Heé's must-have piece is a slip dress, like Refine's The Carolyn. "The slip dress is such an iconic piece of clothing, and I love how it combines opposites: it's subtle yet sexy, classic yet modern, easy yet elegant."
Emerging Minimalist Brands: Matin
"A minimalist approach to style cultivates a timeless wardrobe which can be reinvented time and time again," says Michelle Perrett, creative director of the Sydney-based brand, Matin. "What I love about a minimalistic wardrobe is that it can easily take on a new mood by introducing subtle details and texture."
You'll discover square-neck tops, low-slung trousers, and full-sleeve dresses in Matin's lineup, though Perrett singles out ivory linen pull-on pants as her one must-have piece. "They're a soft and relaxed take on minimalist style but can be easily one sharpened up. Their versatility makes them a natural choice."
For summer styling, Perrett does like the throw-on simplicity of a dress, from linen minis to silk slips. "[The linen mini dress] truly translates from days by the beach to an evening out. Summer outfits, to me, are all about ease ... this piece embodies that mood," she tells TZR. "The silk slip ... this dress truly translates from days by the beach to an evening out."
Emerging Minimalist Brands: Bevza
Svetlana Bevza founded her namesake brand in Kyiv in 2006, focusing on clean, simple silhouettes that exude timeless elegance. "I believe that minimalism is the essence of a refined attitude toward a wardrobe," the designer tells TZR. "it's a big part of the light, elegant style that I subscribe to."
Though the brand offers a range of work-appropriate pieces and event-ready attire, Bevza deems a top with high cuts along the waistline as her a modern, must-have minimalist piece. "It fits well with all ensembles; it's elegant with a sexy touch designed to flatter your body, as well as semi seasonal. It's a great investment."
For summer styling, Bevza likes a white dress as a fail-safe option that's easy to wear. "It always reflects good energy," she says. "No matter what mood you were in yesterday, you can always start a new day fresh with a white dress and a clean slate."