The new designers are making waves.
Is it just me, or does 2022 feel like it’s flashing by? It’s a time of tentative joy – we’ve finally emerged from our pandemic cocoons, a little weathered but cheered up and ready to spring back into action.
Closed events and canceled shows have given many aspiring designers time to hide in their studios and hone their skills. Years of quiet work, refining concepts and crafting pieces, have prepared them for today’s hustle and bustle.
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As we return to the bustling fashion scene we once knew and loved, some new players have joined the mix. For fans, discovering a label with fewer than ten thousand Instagram followers can feel like joining a secret club.
While it can sometimes be tempting to keep the secret to ourselves, these growing brands need all the support they can get to cement their place in the industry and continue making the clothes we can’t wait. And as the Official Media Partner of this year’s Melbourne Fashion Week (MFW), fashion journal is pleased to spotlight the up-and-coming labels of this year’s programme.
Nobody knows this better than stylist, creative director and art director Carlos Mangubat. With his ongoing involvement with MFW and his finger on the pulse of Australian fashion, it’s his job to keep track of the new designers making waves.
After a four-year internship at Fashion Week while in college, Carlos is busy styling for multiple brands at this year’s event. He found a moment in his schedule to break down the details of a few emerging Australian designers to keep an eye on.
Kudrat Makkar, founder and creative director of Mastani, aims to reinterpret her cultural heritage through clothing for the modern woman. “Whimsical and classic, this brand serves me high-end on a platter,” says Carlos.
“The design of transparent covers and luxurious fabrics [is] what makes this brand unique and beautiful. I’m really excited to see what she does over the next few seasons.” Mastani’s sophisticated garments are handcrafted at the brand’s atelier in Bengaluru, India, by a small team of artisans using traditional, age-old techniques.
“The menswear market in Australia is pretty boring, but this brand gives us a twist on the classic garments,” says Carlos. While studying optometry, Brian Hyunh realized that design was his true love and quickly set about creating innovative, artfully tailored menswear. His pieces, oozing with panache, have a timeless appeal that makes them a quality investment.
If you’re looking for playful, feminine clothing with a modern twist, check out House of Campbell. Think oversized puff sleeves, voluminous tiered dresses and endless tulle ruffles.
“First time I came across this brand but there [is] enormous potential,” says Carlos. “This season, [they’re] creating garments from heavy layers of tulle with a sort of Simone Rocha feel – this brand is creating a new voice for formal wear,” says Carlos.
Can you really call yourself an Aussie fashionista if you don’t have an Alix Higgins printed t-shirt hanging in your closet? Glitchy and extremely online, Higgins’ work fuses ethereal poetry with skin-tight clubwear.
“Contemporary and very relevant. This brand delivers what we want now,” says Carlos. Worn by cool people like Hunter Shaefer, Rita Ora and Grimes, Higgins has the kind of momentum that makes it feel like he could be somewhere completely different a year from now.
Designer Naima Bullé is an expert at crafting flowing, flattering pieces that are undeniably luxurious without showing skin. “Brand new on my radar, but I see their potential in the modest wear market,” says Carlos.
Knotted waists, flared sleeves and feather details create creative silhouettes in materials like textured crepe and plush velvet. “On trend, but just as classic, more brands in Melbourne and Australia in general should take notice of this brand and be more responsive to this ever-growing market,” says Carlos.
This isn’t your grandma’s knitting. Chris Ran Lin creates original, asymmetrical knitwear that plays with structure and texture. Carlos says his interest in the brand has been going on for years.
“The level of craftsmanship and design is really here. Nobody makes knitwear like Chris – plus it would be extremely difficult and obvious if his work were replicated! Definitely a taste maker,” he says. A combination of high fashion and comfy-snuggly, these are the pieces we’ll be reaching for when the weather cools.
Come for the eye-catching patterns, stay for the loose knits, beaded bags and modern crochet. Born in Mauritius on the island of Melbourne, Erik Yvon works to redefine notions of masculinity and femininity through his colorful partyware.
“Erik supports a lot of shoots and I love supporting and encouraging POC and queer designers in Melbourne who are making a real statement in such a crowded commercial market,” says Carlos. “His casting is always fair [as] amazing like his clothes!”
With a focus on simplicity, Szn uses organic and sustainable fabrics to create elevated essentials that don’t feel plain. “Susan, the designer, is a really humble person and her designs reflect that,” says Carlos. “Upcycled and made with care – I always see and feel value and care in the garments she makes.” The brand’s work includes monochromatic color blocks, relaxed silhouettes and lots of patchwork denim.
For the full Melbourne Fashion Week 2022 programme, visit head here.