Up Next Designer is the IG account spotlighting emerging talent in fashion
If you’re looking for under-the-radar brands to know about, @UpNextDesigner is your new best friend. Known to discover labels right before they take off, the Instagram account shares new, emerging and talented designers from around the world to its vast community of followers that include industry insiders, influencers and A-listers like Bella Hadid.
Founded by Albert Ayal, UND helps young creative talents gain serious exposure in an oversaturated space often dominated by larger brands. The fashion publicist scouts emerging designers to highlight and share via posts, which he curates based on his research of trends and talents. According to an interview with WWD, this also includes looking to global fashion schools for promising students, whom he then connects with to follow their progress and share their work. Over time, the platform grew a following of people captivated by the designs of emerging talent while Ayal formed relationships with those he spotlighted.
Ayal also uses UND to bridge up-and-coming designers with stylists through connections. Pieces seen on celebrity clients gain widespread exposure that catapults small labels into the mainstream, often resulting in high purchase volumes and flooded DMs. His first link put LA-based textiles designer Erika Maish on the map after her glittering custom beaded two-piece was worn by Kylie Jenner on vacation last year.
More recent moments include Brooklyn-based designer Kim Mesches’ sculptural dresses (above) appearing in the cover art of Cardi B and Normani’s Wild Side and a striped top from knitwear designer Georgios Trochopoulos spotted on an out-and-about Kendall Jenner. Beyond that, designers have also gone on to land features in commercials, magazine editorials and more after being UND-approved.
With over 97,500 followers at the time of publishing, UND exists today as a space for people to come together and celebrate young emerging talent. In addition to posts, Ayal has expanded to do deep dives with brands as well as Instagram takeovers that allow designers to introduce themselves and interact with new followers. From fresh interpretations on suiting to eco-conscious designs and innovative textiles, the diverse range of expertise from the designers on the platform provides an endless source of inspiration and options to help you expand your repertoire of favourite brands. It's also a good place to sniff out emerging trends and gain insight into the future direction of the industry. But let's be frank, who doesn't want to find out about the next big thing before it blows up?
To help you get started, we've listed a few of our favourite designers scouted by Up Next Designer:
We can't keep our eyes off the bold prints and wearable shapes of Lisbon-based designer Constanca Etrundo's garments. The Central Saint Martins textiles graduate uses sustainable fibres as the base of her deconstructed woven fabrics to create playful, colourful looks that are bound to brighten anyone's day. Drawing inspiration from a 1950s series by Life Magazine, her AW21 collection takes a more earth-toned palette to present natural prints and geometric cut-outs across pieces designed to comfort and shelter during current times.
Rooted in HK cinema, Scarlet Sage manifests an aesthetic born from the same vein of Wong Kar-Wai's highly stylised, saturated films. Creative director Huizhe mixes Eastern signatures with Western-style staples to create figure-hugging garments that blend qipao cuts into halter tops, low-rise minis and shirt dresses with ruched details and geometric prints. The result is a sleek, contemporary line steeped in the same seductive charm of the filmmaker's enigmatic characters.
Ballerina-turned-designer Alice Vaillant explores the dialogue between genre codes by working around traditional men's wardrobe elements and sportswear details to explore the possibility of a hybrid closet. For AW21, the Parisian label drew from the city's nightlife in the '60s to push boundaries between the opulent and the everyday. Artisanal techniques like smoking and patchwork were used to turn deadstock materials into sexy, ballet-inspired womenswear featuring corseted bodices and lingerie-as-outerwear dresses paired with slick, structural tailoring.
Best known for her gorgeous fibreglass moulds inspired by the female form, Sinead O'Dywer translates her radical approach into wearable, size-inclusive pieces for AW21 to challenge the notion that specific garments can only look good on certain bodies. Darted cups are inserted into poplin shirts while coils of ruched silk satin and chiffon wrap around the contours of the body across dresses, leggings and bodysuits that highlight the figure in eye-catching shades of primary colours.
Marshall Columbia's namesake label is the epitome of childhood nostalgia. The quirky, unapologetically bold creations of the Brooklyn-based brand come in unique shapes, materials and colours that remind us of the DIY arts and crafts we used to do as kids. The label's smiley flower logo features across hoodies, tees and slouchy denim that exude a sense of playfulness, while intricate hand-beaded embellishments decorate statement dresses, blazers, biker shorts and plush joy-inducing handbags.
Upon first impression, the vibrant, spike-sculpted fabrics of London-based designer Chet Lo may look like futuristic alien creations but they're actually inspired by sources close to our hearts here in Malaysia: the durian and rambutan. Referencing Japanese comics and vintage camp, the textile designer combines his love of futurism with classic feminine silhouettes to create hand-crafted, boundary-breaking knitwear that feels as good to wear as it looks. His second collection introduces sexy, body-hugging cardigans, dresses and capris in the signature 3-D texture and optimistic gradient shades to fit all genders and diverse body types.