Although the big-name high-street brands (H&M, Mango, etc.) will always have a special place in my heart, there's something exciting about coming across a lesser-known label. Of course, there's nothing wrong with buying into the latest trending item. However, as all true fashion lovers will know, it can be easy to become disillusioned by the identikit ensembles that can come from sticking to the well-trodden path.
My solution? Take some time every few months to dig around online and discover some new brands. This will ensure that your wardrobe is kept fresh, diverse and individual, and it helps you avoid the awkward outfit-clash moment. To save you time, I've scoured the internet and interrogated the Who What Wear team to find our top lesser-known affordable brands and their best new-in pieces. Prepare to smugly name-drop these labels next time you WhatsApp your fashion-loving friends.
Aligne is a sustainably minded fashion brand that makes its designs out of quality fabrics with low environmental impact. The brand's aesthetic is clean-lined and packed full of versatile staples such as shirt dresses, jeans and blazers.
For beautiful, small-scale design that won't cost the earth (quite literally), head over to Ren. This conscious fashion brand delivers a tight edit of wardrobe staples that you'll wear for many seasons to come. WWW's Hannah Almassi has already given the Delphine Tunic her seal of approval.
Acting as an antidote to the prevailing minimalist aesthetic, Phoebe Grace is all about the print. The brand's feel-good pieces focus primarily on floral motifs, polished separates and flowy dresses. I have the Peach Shirt in white and wear it all the time with jeans and a blazer.
Having only launched in 2021, Seventy + Mochi remains a lesser-known gem in the affordable fashion world. Founded on the premise of sustainable, seasonless and long-lasting design, it prides itself on using recycled materials and creating collections in limited runs. On top of all this, the brand's designs really hit the nail on the head for me. Think retro-inspired dungarees, ruffled-collar blouses and boxy shackets.
Launched in 2010 in a converted glassworks factory in Shoreditch, Glassworks London started out as a pop-up but now has three locations across the capital. You might've spotted the brand's whimsical cloud-print jumper on Instagram recently, but it also offers plenty of premium-feeling staples and year-round basics.
Newly launched sustainable womenswear brand Omnes works with a small, carefully selected set of fabric producers and mills, all individually approved by top environmental authorities to create wardrobe staples with a trend-led twist. At the top of my wish list is the silken Lila Cami Top.
If you're hunting for directional wardrobe heroes, look no further than Damson Madder, the brand that aims to use eco-friendlier materials, including 100% recycled polyester, natural dyes and cotton from organic farms. I'll be wearing the brand's cotton maxi with chunky boots all season long.
Set apart by its tightly edited collection of premium-feeling, affordable pieces, Kitri is a Who What Wear fave. It only stocks limited quantities of each style, so you can guarantee that you won't see the same item on every other person on social media. The Gabriella Dress was an instant sell-out when papped on Charlotte Groeneveld in 2019, so keep your eyes peeled for the next big thing.
Describing its wares as "supersized basics with a clean, flawless aesthetic and silhouettes cut precisely for everyday success," House of Sunny has become cool girls' go-to affordable fashion brand. The brand offers up plenty of references to new-season trends, including artistic silhouettes and psychedelic prints.
If you're looking for key pieces with a cool Scandi twist to add to your wardrobe, then Gestuz is the brand for you. Launched in 2008, the Danish label has remained relatively unknown, but it is now available on ASOS, so it's easily accessible for all. Expect great denim pieces, chic trousers and the odd print.
Sister Jane is the London-based brand here for all your vintage-inspired fashion needs. Its eclectic selection of personality-packed pieces stand out from the high street's identikit offering—think frou-frou blouses, printed maxi dresses and retro accessories.