In the past few years, Net-a-Porter has become known for its well-edited selection of up-and-coming labels, handpicked from across the world, ready for you to discover at your fingertips. “Our buyers attend eight fashion weeks a year: New York, London, Paris, Milan, Australia, Seoul, Copenhagen, Stockholm; with Berlin and Tblisi on the horizon for this year. We’re still finding hidden gems in the four main cities, like Attico from Milan, but what’s really exciting is what we’re finding outside of the usual fashion weeks,” says Elizabeth von der Gultz, Net-a-Porter’s Global Buying Director.
Now, the luxury e-tailer is going beyond simply uncovering new brands. With the launch of its new mentoring programme, The Vanguard, each season will see four emerging labels handpicked by the Net-a-Porter team to be given invaluable training and advice on how to build a sustainable label in the fashion industry today—on topics ranging from business strategy, marketing and social media, to advice on entering new markets and territories.
This should come as good news for Net-a-Porter’s customers here. “For the Singapore customer, in terms of volume, shoes are the number one business. The big designers come right after that, and then it’s contemporary. We introduce a lot of new designers, and it’s nice to see that the Singaporean customer loves the discovery. They might not even know the name of the designer but they are liking that kind of new fashion,” von der Gultz tells BAZAAR.
Now, meet the inaugural batch of brands chosen to be part of THE VANGUARD for fall/winter 2018:
“One of the key accessory trends for this season is a statement handbag of some sort, and we’re seeing a lot of stamped croc. Gu_de is a brand we spotted in Korea, and they make croc-stamped bags,” von der Gultz told BAZAAR. Founded by Ji Hye Koo in 2016, the brand’s collection is manufactured in South Korea. Launching on Net-a-Porter in September, the covetable bags are classic, with a twist: Timeless shapes are upended with unexpected materials and bright colours, while those in more unique silhouettes come in monochromatic hues and chunky hardware.
Les Rêveries was started by sisters Wayne Lee and Ai Ly, and the designs reflect both where the label is based—New York City—and the sisters’ interests—art, poetry and music. Both sisters are no strangers to the world of fashion: Lee was formerly a buyer at Barneys New York, and Ly has worked at Donna Karan and RRL Ralph Lauren. Their knowledge of the industry and experience show in their innate understanding of what cool girls want. For fall/winter 2018, that means slogan hoodies sit alongside romantic florals and flirty ruffles, all of which lend themselves to this season’s prairie-chic trend, as well as a timeless, easy-breezy sensibility.
An ethical, modest-based fashion brand that focuses on craftsmanship and refined silhouettes, RŪH was founded by Sonia Trehan, who has partnered with a family-run factory in Naples. With the aim of “championing a private sense of identity in a time of overexposure”, this translates into chic, elegant, infinitely wearable clothes that are intended to be layered. Available on Net-a-Porter this month, you can look forward to exaggerated silhouettes on pieces such as shirts, midi skirts and trench coats.
“I’m absolutely obsessed with Martinez. It’s a beautifully old Spanish craft of handwoven shoes made in a very modern way. They’re beautiful and so flexible; the coolest shoes done in really cool shapes,” said Von der Gultz. Julien Martinez was inspired to launch his eponymous footwear label after he was introduced to the craft of hand lacing on a trip to Alicante, Spain. The result is a collection of classic and elegant shoes that combine comfort, craftsmanship and style. Look out for the Menorca woven leather pumps, available exclusively on Net-a-Porter—a selection of neutral-toned pumps, cut higher up on the foot for a more flattering silhouette, topped off with a slim metal heel.