Although the big-name high-street brands (Zara, Mango, Topshop, 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 viral look, 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 unique, and help 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 twelve lesser-known affordable brands and their best new-in pieces. Prepare to smugly name-drop these labels next time you're out with your fashion-loving friends.
Set apart by its tightly edited collection of premium-feeling affordable pieces, Kitri Studio is a Who What Wear fave. Only stocking limited quantities of each style, you can guarantee that you won't see the same item on every other woman on the high street. The Gabriella dress was an instant sellout when papped on Charlotte Groeneveld at fashion week last year, so keep your eyes peeled for the next big thing.
Neon Rose is the UK-born brand you may have already spotted on ASOS. The statement prints, attention-to-detail and super purse-friendly price tags are some of the things we love. Add to this the cute co-ords, winners in the plus-size category (they go up to a size 28) and completes quite the dream collection.
Launched in 2014, Finery quickly shot to the top of fashion editors' wish lists after releasing its first collection. While other brands might be tempted to follow fads, Finery has separated itself from the crowd by sticking to timeless designs, with the odd nod to a new-season trend—a surefire way to know that a dress will keep delivering season after season.
Sézane is the little bit of Paris everyone needs in their wardrobe. The label began life as a vintage store on eBay but now produces retro-inspired, understated pieces that'll easily slip into your capsule wardrobe—ideal if you're looking for pieces that stand the test of time. I'll be adding Sézane's cool leather bags and summer frocks to my basket for now, and patiently waiting until it's time to snap up the amazing knitwear come autumn.
Created by our favourite Gallic It girl, Jeanne Damas, Rouje is in the market to deliver Parisian basics with a nostalgic twist—think flighty camisoles, flared jeans and button-up sundresses. An essential for staples, we'll be buying one of the brand's sellout Gabinette dresses to wear with espadrilles to wear with chunky boots. What better way to achieve that illusive je ne sais quoi?
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. Now on its 12th collection, the brand offers up plenty of references to new-season trends, alongside artistic silhouettes and unfussy, unprinted fabrics (apart from the odd bit of gingham).
If you're looking for key pieces to add to your wardrobe with a cool Scandi twist, 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 easily accessible for all. Expect great dresses, chic trousers and prints.
Sister Jane is the London-based brand here for all your vintage-inspired fashion needs. Its eclectic selection of personality-packed pieces stands out from the high street's identikit offering—think frou-frou blouses, printed maxi dresses and retro accessories.
I came across Lost Ink years ago when I spotted a very cool blouse in a random corner of Debenhams (I still wear it all the time, FYI), but thankfully, it's now a little easier to get hold of due to being stocked on ASOS. Wearable and trend-led without being "faddy," Lost Ink should be the place you head to for chic summer staples. The brand's polka-dot midi dress is at the top of our wish list.
Okay, so I know Oliver Bonas is hardly the most niche brand in the world, but I would hazard a guess that most fashion aficionados go to the store for gifts and home wear knickknacks rather than fashion. However, recently I found that the brand's online offering features so many winning essentials. Shop my faves below.