For some truly enriching additions to my wardrobe, I look to Instagram to discover niche brands making pieces with love. That sounds cheesy, but it's true. I'm a romantic when it comes to my clothes, and the process of supporting independent designers from all corners of the world perfectly feeds into that. To me, there's nothing better than receiving a new piece in the mail (usually wrapped with care and a note from the designer) directly from the person who made it. I develop a crush on something in my feed, save up a little bit and exercise some patience, and the result is a long-term love affair when it finally arrives.
Nothing thrills me more than to tempt others into this shopping style, introducing my real-life and digital friends (I'm including you in this group now) to new designers, forming little communities around the brands we love. Brands launching today have no choice but to address sustainable and inclusive practices as they grow (yay!), and it's fabulous to see the response to that is exciting, well-crafted pieces. These brands are finding the fun in fundamental industry changes, and I'm ever grateful for it. This summer is looking to be an exciting one for that reason. I've already found some awesomely creative new brands, each imbuing their pieces with their stories and their passion for what they make. Keep scrolling to discover them all—and don't forget to share the love.
AURORE VAN MILHEM
I was smitten with this small-batch blouse brand the second I came across the account. In a similar style to Maison Cléo, designer Aurore Van Milhelm uses her Instagram to let her fans know when a few new pieces are available—and they sell out instantly. Each one has a lovely name and is made with love.
Barcelona-based eyewear brand Basique offers a range of handmade sunglasses that totally remind me of my fabulous grandmother in the late '70s, but are also somehow timeless. They come is limited styles in a range of colours, keeping everything thoughtful and simple.
Good News shoes live by their name. These sustainable British trainers (two thirds of each shoe is made from recycled materials) are instantly classic, and I predict they'll be a cult favourite soon.
These seasonless pieces—all handmade by Melissa Hernández in New York—are crafted from recycled materials into gorgeous shapes that will get you all the compliments. It's difficult to pick a favourite amongst the collection, but the "puff" pieces are at the top of my list.
The studio's XL bow shoes were an internet sensation, but don't let that kind of fame fool you—designer Kiminte Kimhekim is seriously talented. Having previously worked at Balenciaga in Paris, Kimhekim imbues a brilliant balance of softness into his gorgeously structured pieces.
Handmade by self-taught designer Luiny Rivera, the brand "invokes an organic design process that is inspired by a variety of forms, ornaments, and textures." The result is that each piece has its own unique personality.
Selva Negra is a product of fate between designers Kristen Gonzalez and Sam Romero after finding an instant connection post-graduation. Drawing on their Latin heritage, their collection "aims to set zero limits to what women can achieve," featuring cult gingham pieces and a fabulous banana jumpsuit. Everything is crush-worthy.
Hereu is a Spanish shoes and accessories brand that is just divine. At first, I fell for its leather bags, which manage to feel so fresh while evoking nostalgic shapes, but then I saw the brand's flats and lost my cool. The espadrilles and loafers match the brand's ethos in that they're both innovative and traditional.
Another New Zealand brand putting Down Under fashion on the map, designer Kate Megaw's Penny Sage pieces are all made locally by family-run businesses. The latest collection is rich in colours and textures while still feeling accessible to anyone's personal style.
Founded in 2018 by two sisters, Norba aims to bring a level of chic and inclusivity into sportswear. Its goal is to create pieces that fit any body type and makes everyone feel comfortable in their skin.
BIANCA & RED
This Sante Fe–based studio makes the kind of dream dresses you could just float away in. Gathering fame for the delicate hair bows, its organza pieces are sure to become cult faves too.
Opening Image: Selva Negra