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Sometimes it can seem like fashion is divided into two worlds. Aspirational runway stuff that’s amazing to look at, trendsetting, and — for most people — untouchable; then there’s the stuff we can actually shop: J. Crew, H&M, Zara, etc. They’re the most talked-about sectors, but what about all the good stuff happening in between? Here’s a handful of designers and independent labels that have either just launched, are hitting their stride, or just deserve some general horn-blowing.
This New York-based brand, launched in September 2013, creates with two big ideas in mind: Make beautiful clothing (duh) and manufacture consciously (hell yeah). The result is outfit-carrying statement pieces, like a sheer, metallic turtleneck or an asymmetric pencil skirt, made according to the brand's "do no harm" social, environmental, and animal cruelty standards.
Sisters Chloe and Parris Gordon started Beaufille (which they define as "handsome girl") in 2013, combining their backgrounds in fashion and jewelry design. The clothes play with proportion and material but stay wearable with clean lines and minimal embellishment, like the cropped superflares here. Fine jewelry from the Canadian brand is similarly interesting in shape but refined in execution, like a D-shaped septum earring — hoop earrings for art girls!
James Flemons launched his agender clothing line fresh out of school in 2014. What began as a selection of sport-influenced T-shirts and jersey dresses has blossomed into an editorial-friendly collection of reworked denim and lace-up tops, shorts, and bodysuits. Miley Cyrus, Rita Ora, and Kelela have all performed in Phlemuns pieces — we can't wait to see where Flemons goes from here.
Rie Yamagata began Rhié as a small knitwear collection in 2011, but it's since grown to a comprehensive ready-to-wear line (the knits, of course, are a high point). The New York-based designer leans into the qualities of the fabrics she selects to guide her designs: A liquid charmeuse floats in a wide-legged jumpsuit, while a loose-woven cotton is left with a raw hem in a midiskirt.
Sweden native Carin Rodebjer founded her namesake line in 1999 in New York. In addition to seasonal collections, Rodebjer also offers a deft selection of essentials that have one goal: Make it easier to get dressed in the morning. (Hallelujah!) The assortment includes silk button-ups, clean-lined blazers, and trousers with subtle details for office-bound girls, and very cool denim and blouses for those of us who spend the days in more relaxed environments.
ACE & JIG
Ace & Jig is blowing up. Designers Cary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson launched the seasonless women's line back in 2009, quickly racking up a list of stockists that includes Barneys, Steven Alan, and Madewell. Textiles are paramount here; the girls develop their own fabrics, working one on one with a manufacturer in India that weaves on ancient hand looms.
What began as a collection of loose-fit dresses and blouses has evolved to include breezy outerwear and experimental yet wearable silhouettes, like the off-the-shoulder tunic pictured here.