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This is it. The moment has arrived. It's time to unveil our first-ever class of Racked Young Guns, a collection of the brightest and most promising fashion talents in the United States today. The group is 15 strong and represents both coasts, a variety of styles and everything from women's wear to jewelry to shoes to bags.
The list came together thanks to feedback from our selection committee of more than 30 industry heavyweights including buyers, designers, shop owners and stylists. Each person on the following list made it through two prior rounds of cuts thanks to multiple recommendations (three or more per contender) from our committee. And now, without further ado, the list.
Phoebe and Annette Stephens. Photo via Style Like U.
1. Anndra Neen: Phoebe and Annette Stephens
Why we love them: The pieces are bold, sculptural, classic and totally unique.
From our panelists: Sarah Easley of Kirna Zabête: "I really, really love what they're doing with the heritage of their company, first of all. Their grandmother in Mexico made beautiful jewelry for Frida Kahlo. Their collection is a beautiful link between jewelry and art. I collect their pieces and they're such wonderful objects to own. It's very grand and old world and really above fashion. It's just so strong. When I hear the words statement jewelry, I think of their work."
2. Apiece Apart: Laura Cramer and Starr Hout
Why we love them: For simple, stylish pieces that transcend trends and are easily mixed.
From our panelists: Melissa Coker of Wren: "Their collection is so focused and pulled together. It's so polished."
Beatrice Valenzuela. Image via Closet Visit.
3. Beatrice Valenzuela: Beatrice Valenzuela
Why we love her: Valenzuela's made-in-Mexico leather footwear boasts a hip yet earthy, broken-in look that we haven't seen elsewhere.
From our panelists: Steven Alan: "Really unique styles with whip stitching and other handmade detailing." Kathy Rose of Roseark: "She's a great designer, very innovative. She's making a change."
Elle Van Dusen. Image via Dossier Journal.
4. Dusen Dusen: Ellen Van Dusen
Why we love her: For her quirky prints and beautifully fitted dresses.
From our panelists: Erica Cerulo, Of a Kind: "Her line has grown up so much since the beginning. Her first collections felt very young and cool and Brooklyn but she's got so much more sophisticated and sleek. She's also one of those designers who has learned every aspect of the business."
Brett Heyman. Image via The Window.
5. Edie Parker: Brett Heyman
Why we love her: Each one of Heyman's acrylic clutches is like a small, glittery piece of art.
From our panelists: Claire Distenfeld of Fivestory: "I love that she took an obsession and wasn't afraid to make it her livelihood. She just was so obsessed with cool, hard clutches and she created something all her own." Indre Rockefeller of Moda Operandi: "Great graphics, bold colors, prints. She's found her formula and continues to innovate. And the quality is great too."
Kaelen Haworth. Photo via The List Collective.
6. Kaelen: Kaelen Haworth
Why we love her: Each design is sophisticated but also precisely of this moment. And it all looks so cool on (she describes her work as "interesting sexy").
From our panelists: Jen Mankins of Bird: "She's really creative and understands and has a good eye for fashion."
Katie Ermilio. Photo via Philly Style Mag.
7. Katie Ermilio: Katie Ermilio
Why we love her: Feminine, fitted and beautiful are all appropriate adjectives for Ermilio's work.
From our panelists: Lisa Mayock of Vena Cava: "Katie offers great silhouettes and tailoring. These look like real constructed garments." Emily Current and Meritt Elliott: "Amazing dresses for starlets who want to be noticed."
Katie Gallagher. Photo via Katie Gallagher.
8. Katie Gallagher: Katie Gallagher
Why we love her: It's all so moody, dark and sexy without feeling costume-y or goth.
From our panelists: Kelly Wearstler: "Her cutout swimwear from Spring is a standout for me." Anna Sheffield of Bing Bang: "I think she's a great talent. She's the subject of a lot of interest and buzz while being so new."
9. Khai Khai: Haim Medine
Why we love him: He works with luxury materials, but his pieces are anything but stuffy. Instead, Medine turns out rings and necklaces with playful, 21st-century references like an "@" symbol encrusted with diamonds.
From our panelists: Indre Rockefeller of Moda Operandi: "I see a lot of women gravitating towards pieces that are fun and they have something going on that is in keeping with that whimsy. Fun to buy, fun to wear."
Lindsey Thornburg. Photo via Style Like U.
10. Lindsey Thornburg: Lindsey Thornburg
Why we love her: Thornburg is one of the only designers we know that built her business on designing chic cloaks. Now she stands behind a full ready-to-wear line of colorful, easy, elevated-boho pieces.
From our panelists: Anna Sheffield of Bing Bang: "Really incredibly designer, like a one-man army. So New York. Beautiful design." Erica Weiner: "I like her stuff. I wear her stuff. She's evolving and all of her designs are equally cool. I give her my vote."
Elizabeth and Kathryn Fortunato. Image via Violet Boutique.
11. Lizzie Fortunato: Elizabeth and Kathryn Fortunato
Why we love them: Their jewelry is endlessly creative and made of all sorts of interesting materials such as porcupine quills and Costa Rican seashells.
From our panelists: Steven Alan: "I love that they use found and reclaimed materials in their jewelry." Erica Cerulo, Of a Kind: "They have a very strong vision and just get it."
Marissa Webb. Image via Mochi Mag.
12. Marissa Webb: Marissa Webb
Why we love her: For years, Webb masterminded the design of J.Crew's womenswear. Now, she's brought her knack for designing what women want to wear every day (sharp, well-cut separates) to her own line.
From our panelists: Kelly Wearstler: "I like the tailoring and the strong menswear influence."
Caitlin Mociun. Photo by William Chan.
13. Mociun: Caitlin Mociun
Why we love her: Each piece of jewelry is fine, exquisitely-designed and unique.
From our panelists: Erica Cerulo, Of a Kind: "People go insane for her stuff. With fine jewelry, it's hard to find something that still feels special and delicate and different."
A look from Ryan Roche's Fall 2013 collection. Photo via Ryan Roche.
14. Ryan Roche: Ryan Roche
Why we love her: Off-kilter, tactile knitwear is a distinguishing characteristic of Roche's collections as is her use of dusty, pretty colors.
From our panelists: Steven Alan: "Ryan offers a beautiful palette of colors in easy cotton dresses and hand knit cashmere sweaters." Jen Mankins of Bird: "It's beautiful, understated, simple, feminine and earthy."
Wes Gordon. Photo via Refinery29.
15. Wes Gordon: Wes Gordon
Why we love him: A total wunderkind, the 26-year-old has created a high-end label that's gorgeous and sophisticated. Fans include the senior VP of Neiman Marcus, who calls Gordon a "modern-day Bill Blass."
From our panelists: Emily Current and Meritt Elliott: "Wes is such a risk taker! He obviously appreciates luxury, but his aesthetic is also not too serious. He can make a suit look formal, and a formal dress look effortless." Sarah Easley of Kirna Zabête: "We've been selling it since the first season. It's a small collection and it's so so beautiful and beautifully made. It's not in any way trendy, it reminds me of Tuleh [in that it's made from] the finest satin, and velvet and silk and laces. It's for the luxury customer who doesn't want to wear an ad campaign from this season."
Apiece Apart image via Elle.
· All Young Guns Coverage [Racked]
· Meet the 50 Racked Young Guns Semi-Finalists for 2013 [Racked]