Silent but Deadly: Fashion Brands that Are Gaining Market Traction

As a new decade begins, the must-buy labels of the year are on everyone’s mind. If Instagram has been good for one thing, Instagram can add a spotlight to brands that are not household names. Thanks to social media, emerging brands are redefining the fashion industry with their dedicated followers and cross-industry collaboration. These companies and designers are going directly to consumers, discussing their environmental impact, and utilizing their social media influence to propel them to the forefront and separate them from just being another social media/celebrity brand. 

Overwhelmed by the wealth of great emerging brands, no need to fret, Fashion Reverie has navigated the top under-the-radar brands to add to your shopping list.

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Designer Becca McCharen-Tran, an industry insider, has shown that sticking to your laurels and representing your community can be the most impactful marketing strategy to showcase your brand. “I’m not in this to get rich and get out,” McCharen-Tran told Business of Fashion. Using sustainable material and ethical factories, Chromat has embraced the direct-to-consumer fashion output without jeopardizing their core brand identity. Designing for the real women, Chromat’s mission focuses on creating empowering garments for all body types; and gaining the mainstream’s attention on diversity and inclusivity.

Founded in 2010, Chromat has evolved into one of the world’s most innovative fashion labels specializing in architectural swimwear, sport, and wearable technology. Chromat has been nominated for a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award and not has centered its collection mostly on swimwear.

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Romeo Hunte

Romeo Hunte is one to watch, you might recall seeing this brand on your favorite celebs—Beyonce, Zendaya, Victor Cruz, Gabrielle Union, Dewayne Wade, and more. As WWD’s “Designer to Watch” in 2016, Romeo Hunte is becoming a household name. Inspired by contemporary and luxe streetwear, Hunte is a lineage of modern classic apparel that mixes practical, luxurious, and transitional contemporary pieces. With a powerful focus on unisex, Hunte has elevated the integration of femininity and masculinity. By pairing current fashion trends with archival looks and fabrics, Hunte has found the perfect balance between creativity and practicality.

And for this past New York Fashion Week: The Shows (NYFWS) fall 2020 season, the 33-year-old Romeo Hunte collaborated with his long-time mentor Tommy Hilfiger. “He’s been my mentor for a very long time now, and he always tells me to dream big. You put your mind to it, you step forward, put your all into it because you never know what it will turn out to be,” Hunte said.

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Laquan Smith

“I get a chance to be able to say how [we] feel through [my]designs, [my fashion] shows, [and] my levels of inspiration” Laquan Smith told Billboard. Inspired by the nightlife and the life of rule-breaking artists, Smith’s creates clothes to make women feel good and make statements. Staying true to his upbringing and craft, Smith is inspired by the unapologetic women of the world by creating strong standout silhouettes that redefine luxury styles.

Given the fashion nod by the illustrious Andre Leon Talley, Smith has had his garments worn by Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and more. He made the Forbes Under 30 list at age 26, making $500,000 a year with no debt. 

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Pump up the dramatics! Fashion label and creative outlet, Namilia is a statement show that reframes the fashion narrative by using their platform to express their beliefs, conflicts, and dreams. Heavily inspired by pop culture, Namilia sets out to produce on fashion shows that no longer shame body art and piercings but normalize and contextualize new ways of seeing the body and accessorizing the body. Becoming more exploratory and experimental with their clothes, Namilia addresses issues and rules within the fashion industry.  By reconstructing traditional silhouettes, Namilia elevates true fashion activism with provocative slogans, trendy politics, and reinterpretations of culture. Their revolutionary rebellious and erotic themes allow women to celebrate and empower their sexuality, especially for the next generation to come.

That said;  Since its launch in 2015, Namilia has evolved from an Instagram brand sensation to a full-fledged “It” brand that symbolizes female empowerment. For has also propelled Namilia to “It” brand status is Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl’s ability to re-interpret fashion nostalgia for Gen Zers. Their affiliation with modern icons Sita Abellan, Teyana Taylor, The Native Fox, Dua Lipa, The Clermont twins, Sza and Slick Woods has also been a big win for the brand.

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Pyer Moss

As a timely social experiment, Pyer Moss aims to use his platform to challenge social narratives and evoke dialogue. As the one of the most highly anticipated shows of New York Fashion Week, Moss has won the admiration of Anna Wintour,  top fashion publications, and fashion governing bodies. Redefining Pyer Moss’ collections every season, creative director Kirby Jean-Raymond combines storytelling, activism, and social commentary while collaborating with commercial product brands.

Though his brand seems like an overnight success, Kirby Jean-Raymond has been in the fashion industry for over 18 years. First as an assistant designer for Kay Unger, under his own fashion label Pyer Moss, Jean-Raymond in 2019 won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award. He recently brought back his company after bad deals with investors.

“I took money from investors really early in 2014, and I didn’t understand much about the business of what was needed. I allowed them to underfund the company, take too much equity and lure me into bad deals,” he said. “It took me a lot of money, and a lot of time, and a lot of anger and frustration, and giving up, and depression to get out of that situation.” he explained in a article.

Jean-Raymond was able to get his company back on track due to collaborations with Reebok. More cautious this time around Jean-Raymond explains, “We limit our supply to (match) the demand, not what we’re speculating,” he said. “It gets very hard to find Pyer Moss in the secondary market. And that’s by design, because we don’t make a lot of stuff in the first place—we make what people want.”

Images courtesy of the CFDA

Woodhouse Army

Founded in 2015, Woodhouse Army is a rebellious menswear brand that was born overseas in Korea. The 27-year-old breakout designer and army officer, Julian Woodhouse designs for the modern male consumer. Challenging the status quo, Woodhouse is a self-proclaimed creative spirit whose emerging brand refines the masculine aesthetic. Pivoting the brand towards innovation in fashion technology, Woodhouse hopes to reduce the carbon footprint of the global fashion industry.

—Courtney Wilkins

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