The Affordable Designer Brands I'm Head-Over-Heels in Love With

Lisa Aiken is Net-a-Porter’s retail fashion director and the woman responsible for our extensive wish lists and dented wallets. She is something of an oracle for the Who What Wear team in the UK. We trust her every recommendation (and attend her seasonal trend presentations without fail); we look to her wardrobe choices and unwaveringly cool NAP edit to make our own moves; and now, she’s a regular columnist here on the site—hurrah! For May, it’s all about the virtues of that contemporary brand price sweet spot…

Best contemporary brands: Lisa Aiken wearing


@lisa.aiken; On Lisa Aiken: Ganni Julliard Sweater (£350)

Looking through my wardrobe recently, I realised the vast majority of pieces I love and wear on a daily basis are made up of my favourite contemporary brands. Of course, I still save up to buy those key designer purchases, but they’re not the items I rely on day in and day out.

Best contemporary brands: Lisa Aiken wearing


@lisa.aiken; On Lisa Aiken: Rejina Pyo Nicole Blazer (£550)

Contemporary brands, on the other hand, are the bread and butter of my daily wardrobe. They’re the pieces I pick out first thing every morning, no matter what season or city I’m in. Even during fashion month, when I’m travelling I often wear more statement, fashion-forward pieces, and I actually prefer to wear contemporary brands because they’re more under the radar. I love wearing pieces that feel like hidden gems.

Best contemporary brands: Lisa Aiken wearing


@lisa.aikenOn Lisa Aiken: Wandler bag

Essentially, contemporary brands aren’t your big-ticket buys—they’re your stealth purchases, the ones people don’t necessarily know where you got them. They’re the ones that form your everyday functional wardrobe and are the answer to a perfect shopping fix.

Best contemporary brands: Lisa Aiken wearing


@lisa.aiken; On Lisa Aiken: Rejina Pyo Camille Blouse (£425)

Now our thoughts are turning to warmer months, I asked some of our favourite contemporary designers—from Ganni, Rixo and Staud to Rejina Pyo, Wandler and Yuzefi—to create a series of capsules just in time for the summer season ahead. In addition, we’re set to stock a raft of new contemporary labels you don’t even know yet—so check back soon for additions. For now, just keep scrolling to see all of my favourite midpriced brands—and good luck stopping yourself from shopping them all.


This bag is neat and therefore deceptively roomy—you can get all of your essentials in here easily.


Ganni’s dresses just keep on getting better.


Following on from the popular Bonsai bag (the mini bucket with a ring handle) comes this cute idea.


Simple sandals you’ll fall back on every summer.


No one’s making lilac look cooler than Nanushka.


This is a grown-up way to do the crop top.


You’ll get so much wear out of a white bag—trust me.


Definitely worth investing in the matching trousers…


For holiday-ready sandals everyone else won’t have, turn to Carrie.