The Importance of Supporting Emerging Fashion Talent
Today I am celebrating the incredible emerging fashion designers across the world; I am in awe of your talent, your creativity, and your dedication to the art (and yes, I believe that fashion can be an art). In today's saturated world, starting your own fashion label is undoubtedly a huge risk, but the love of design trumps all the corporate evils, and I have endless amounts of respect for that. As part of my enthusiasm for embracing fashion in a more ethical and sustainable way, it's time again to dedicate some space on this blog to the small fries, the changemakers, and the ones to watch.
Why is supporting emerging fashion talent so important? I believe there are 3 key reasons.
Firstly, when you purchase a piece from an independent young fashion designer, you are investing in a luxury garment, but for a mere fraction of the price of a designer garment from a big name fashion house. It is true that clothing from smaller brands and designers are usually more expensive than larger mass-market or well-established brands (and that's because it's really really expensive to make clothing, but more on that in another blog post), however, the quality is, more often than not, so much better than you will find on the high street or even higher end brands that create products in similar mass production facilities. With an emerging fashion designer, you are getting a handmade or sometimes even custom-made piece but without the couture price tag. And remember, when these young designers inevitably gain popularity, their price points will most likely get higher, so its best to get in early!
Secondly, by investing in under-the-radar labels, you are going to have a wardrobe full of one-of-a-kind pieces, and therefore will always look totally unique. I love to support this next generation of changemakers- and I wish I could do it more often if my bank balance allowed it- because I know that'm not only giving a local or independent young business a big boost, but I am enhancing my own personal style, and saying no to mass-produced, monogamous, trend-led high street fashion.
Finally, if you are concerned by the ethics and sustainability of the fashion industry, many brands run by young designers, who are often students or recent graduates, are what I like to call 'ethical by accident'. They may not necessarily have sustainability at the crux of their brand, or set out to create a specifically ethical product, but by proxy they are better for the environment and for people than the fast fashion alternative. This is because they are handmade by people with a passion for their work, they are made from materials chosen for quality and integrity, they are constructed in a way that's made to last a long time, and they are often made locally and in collaboration with small local business.
Now, about this look...
I popped into a pop-up last month here in Edinburgh; an exhibition and shop run for a few days only by young Scottish fashion designer Ellie Vallely, creative director, proprietor and visionary behind Squint Clothing, a label for the playful, laid back, weird and wonderful girl.
The popup was launching squint's new collection, Organised Fun, a collaboration with Glasgow-based illustrator Alice Dansey-Wright. Every piece is adorned with Alice's bold, childlike doodles, including sunshine, squiggles, and even boobs; the two Scottish creatives complement each other perfectly, as both are busting full of personality.
I have loved the Squint aesthetic since I met Ellie through working at The Scottish Design Exchange, and it has been really exciting to see her brand develop and grow. I have a couple of tees and sweaters from previous collections, but I thought it was about time I splash out on some custom pieces. The Organised Fun collection was characterized by bright colours like pink, yellow and green, but as a pared-back dresser, I ordered the one-size-fits-all bomber style jacket in black, and some matching combat trousers to boot.
This two-piece is probably the most maximalist you will ever see me dress, but the jacket and trousers on their own are surprisingly wearable to turn my simple, more minimalist outfits into style statements. Plus, no one else has these pieces, which gives the fashion magpie in me a smug satisfaction; looking unique makes you feel unique, too.