Out of all the fashion weeks, London is known as a place to discover emerging brands. Between the recent design-school grads making their industry debut and the talent coming out of incubators like NEWGEN and Fashion East, there's always a new name to check out or a collection that impresses the fashion crowd to name it a label to watch.
Ahead of the Fall 2020 shows, we're rounding up a few of the ones we — and the industry — have our eyes on. They're bringing their unique approaches to fashion and points of view to the London Fashion Week stage and beyond, so you'll want to remember them.
Charlotte Knowles and design partner Alexandre Arsenault had already garnered acclaim for their lingerie- and corset-inspired pieces, having gone through Fashion East and made a splash during London Fashion Week, by the time Bella Hadid walked the 2019 VMAs red carpet wearing pieces from the duo's Fall 2019 collection. Still, that verified the brand's cool factor — and the two-fer of having a Hadid be photographed in your designs plus appearing on the red carpet gave Charlotte Knowles a whole new audience. (Hadid has worn pieces from her collections a few times since.)
"People have the choice of showing what they want. They're much more comfortable wearing things that are more revealing because they have control over it," Arsenault told Elle of the brand, to which Knowles added: "It is very considered — where we reveal and what we choose to reveal."
Charlotte Knowles returns to London Fashion Week with a Fall 2020 runway show on Feb. 18.
ASAI has a knack for going viral. The brand's exposed-seam, semi-sheer tops are a staple among the too-cool fashion stars known for putting under-the-radar labels on the map. (Think: the Susie Bubbles of the world.) And its tie-dyed mini dress memorably got the Rihanna-on-vacation-slo-mo treatment. (Rih's such a fan, she tapped the brand for a limited-edition Fenty collab last year.)
The man behind them all is A Sai Ta, a London-born Central Saint Martins alum whose résumé includes stints at The Row and Yeezy.
Lulu Kennedy, the founder and director of Fashion East, told Business of Fashion about breaking the program's own rules — offering him four seasons of financial support, versus three — because "we thought he was really special and could use one last push. I think it really shows. It helped to get his feet firmly on the ground."
Sai Ta is now a BFC NEWGEN recipient and will show his Fall 2020 collection at the BFC Show Space on Feb. 15.
A part of BFC NEWGEN since 2018, womenswear designer Supriya Lele made her London Fashion Week debut for the Spring 2019 season. The Royal College of Art grad frequently looks to her family and heritage for inspiration, weaving Indian traditions with modern-day British trends.
"It's about being from two places, and not really knowing if you're from here or there," she told Vogue. "These ideas of these skeletons of your identity… the damping down of the identity you go through as a teenager — and then finding your confidence to grow into a woman and find yourself."
Lele has developed a following over the past few years — her pieces have been photographed for WSJ Magazine and Le Monde’s M Magazine and are carried on SSENSE, Farfetch and at the now-defunct Opening Ceremony — but they got a major signal boost in November, when Bella Hadid wore a tie-front leather top from her Spring 2020 collection out and about last fall. Now, she's back on the Fashion Week calendar, kicking off the shows in London at the BFC Show Space on Feb. 14.
Yuhan Wang joined London's Fashion East designer incubator in 2018, months after showcasing her Central Saint Martins MA graduate collection at London Fashion Week. Since then, she's continued to develop a sense of reimagined-femininity, with soft color palettes and delicate fabrics fashioned into imaginative, almost sculptural silhouettes.
"My journey so far has made me question what femininity is about and how I can re-shape that concept in a way that reflects the contemporary woman," she told Vice in 2018.
Wang closes out London Fashion Week with a catwalk show on Feb. 18. Also, she makes adorable beaded-peach pouches (pictured above).
Designer Eftychia Karamolegkou actually studied graphic design in Athens before switching gears to fashion, enrolling in programs at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and Central Saint Martins in London. Fast-forward a few years, and she counts Phoebe Philo and Gaia Repossi as customers and landed on the shortlist for the LVMH Prize.
"My whole brand aesthetic is about subtle messages... whoever gets them, good," she told Business of Fashion ahead of her Spring 2020 show last London Fashion Week. "I'm not trying to dictate the story — at the end of the day, it's about the clothes."
For Fall 2020, the designer — who specializes in tailored workwear — earns a designation from NEWGEN as "one to watch" during London Fashion Week.