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These Are the Brands to Watch in 2021

And more insights from Lyst's Year in Fashion report.
Thebe Magugu Spring 2021. 

Thebe Magugu Spring 2021. 

As we near the end of 2020, we're about to encounter a lot of content that "looks back" at what has been one of the strangest years on record. Lyst has taken one of the first in-depth looks at how fashion was impacted by the year's events, at least in terms of shopping data. The platform used search, views and sales metrics to reveal the most powerful fashion movements, moments, celebrities, brands and products of the year.

With the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on retail and the economy, 2020 was a real test for brands, especially small and medium-sized ones — and a lot of them, sadly, didn't pass it. But for the ones still chugging along, the year acted as a proof of concept, and/or a testament to their founders' abilities to be nimble and pivot when needed.

Based on growth in searches, Lyst compiled a list of "breakout brands" of the year. They include Marine Serre, who saw a 426% surge in searches after Beyoncé wore the brand's ubiquitous moon print in "Black Is King." Telfar, with its waitlist-generating Shopping Bags, also made the list. Following collaborations with Nike and Moncler, and founder Matthew Williams's appointment to Givenchy, 1017 ALYX 9SM also made the list with a 610% rise in searches year-over-year. Pyer Moss also made the list, thanks in part to a buzzy Reebok collaboration, along with Martine Rose, Fear of God and Chinatown Market.

There were also a few lesser known names, who feel like ones to watch in 2021: Milan-based Sunnei, which was acquired by Nanushka in September; Casablanca, a buzzy streetwear line that recently introduced womenswear; and Brain Dead, a cult-y Los Angeles streetwear brand.

Lyst also compiled an official list of five brands to watch in 2021 based on fast-rising search metrics from the past six months, ranging from the well-known Brother Vellies, to some lesser known international names. Read on.

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Brother Vellies

Accessories brand Brother Vellies saw a 23% jump in searches, probably aided by founder Aurora James's creation of the 15 Percent Pledge, as well as her September Vogue cover.

Paris Georgia

With searches up 25%, this New Zealand-based contemporary womenswear brand is known for its clean, figure-hugging designs. Its signature slip dresses and camisoles can be found on Instagram's coolest girls.

Chopova Lowena

Searches for this sustainably minded London-based, Bulgarian-made brand likely surged even higher after Lyst finalized its report, because Harry Styles and his sister Gemma both wore the brand's pieces in the former's December Vogue cover story. Before that, searches were up 33%. Becoming an LVMH Prize finalist and being worn by Madonna likely contributed to that.

Thebe Magugu

Last year, South African womenswear designer Thebe Magugu won the LVMH Fashion Prize, and along with Brother Vellies, is one of two Black-owned brands on this list — with searches up 27%. Recent highlights included a credit in Zendaya's September InStyle cover story, for which Law Roach put her only in Black designers, a menswear capsule for Spring 2021 and a new e-commerce site.


Medea's minimalist shopping bags in every color and size imaginable have been practically inescapable on Instagram — second only to Telfar's. Founded by two Italian sisters, the brand's many celebrity, influencer and industry-insider fans likely contributed to its 40% rise in searches.

You can browse Lyst's full Year in Fashion 2020 report here.

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