As Brad wrote in his menswear post, “Today brands need to create an environment. They must provide an experience. They also should portray a lifestyle to get consumers to pay attention and purchase what they are selling.”
I choose my favorite womenswear brands based not on a lifestyle they create, but the lifestyle they cater to. The most revolutionary labels are the ones that observe and see the market, notice a space–an area that is lacking–and seek to fill it.
That being said, with each consumer comes a set of her own unique experiences, a story created as it is told. The best brands realize that their customers may not clothe themselves head-to-toe in one label, but instead pick and choose. A top from here, a pair of jeans from there, trusty sneakers, and so on… The New Woman takes on the characteristics of each brand they wear and these ideas, like puzzle pieces, come together to create a whole, individualized story.
There are brands that repurpose and rework vintage clothing to fit the modern consumer. There are brands who seek to provide the clothing you fall in love in, and others who want to create pieces you fall in love with. Companies in LA, London, and France; labels run by brothers, actresses, and festival-goers. All brands that give, not just take.
Here are the 12 brands we are really digging at the moment. Note: some of these brands offer menswear, too. The more, the merrier!
[+] RIALTO JEAN PROJECT
“Denim Doing Good.” The mantra of Erin Feniger’s vintage denim brand, known as RJP, serves as its testament to utilizing fashion to make a difference. Erin scouts out ethically-sourced vintage denim, military wear, and more and turns them into works of art, representing the brand’s dedication to art therapy programs at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and New York–Presbyterian Hospital.
There’s something about VEDA’s enigmatic eye logo that immediately caught my attention. And then, their leather jackets kept it. Texas native Lyndsey Butler created VEDA in 2008 with the goal of providing the perfect leather coat, emphasizing its fit and feel. The NYC-based brand has since expanded into cotton t-shirts, leather minidresses, velvet tops, and more–basically, the perfect uniform to live your best “cool girl” life. They even have matching best friend jackets for you and your other half to sport as you strut, arm-in-arm, around town.
[+] THE KOOPLES
Talk about “couple goals.” Brothers Alexandre, Laurent, and Raphaël Elicha built their brand on telling the stories of couples who ooze cool. The Kooples provides the backdrop for these relationships: what its consumers wear as their love story unfolds. Their latest venture is a handbag collaboration with model/actress/girl-I-want-to-be Emily Ratajkowski.
[+] SERA ULGER
East London-based brand Sera Ulger (SULDN) intertwines nostalgia with the vibrancy of growing up in the 90’s in London. Each SULDN piece aims to inject its wearer with fierce, fearless feminism and girl power through razor-sharp cuts and colorful finishes–inspired by a mindset, not age. The collections are hand-painted in house at the Ulger Lab Studio–which is also a space for creative women to collaborate and share and support each other’s art.
[+] CATHERINE FULMER
The ready-to-wear label seamlessly combines high-end style with rock ‘n’ roll. Yes, you read that right. The one-stop shop for designer velvets, florals, and custom bomber jackets is both laid-back and fashion-forward. It’s comfortable and wearable luxury you won’t mind roughing up a bit. “Put simply,” writes Racked, “Catherine’s got it going on.”
The ever-so-relevant Scandinavian brand is known worldwide for its catchy and clever marketing strategy of approaching hot-topic issues through normal conversation–for example, their campaign to recycle old clothes and textiles reads, “We just want your stuff.” The elements of the “Monkifesto” are “Monki Cares,” “Monki Thinks,” and “Monki Loves,” three initiatives the brand has created to use its “platform on the high street to bring issues central to young women into the limelight.” In addition to this awesome activism, Monki’s wares are actually really cute, on-trend, and well-priced to boot.
Since 1985 L.A.Roxx has been creating bespoke leathergoods, including bomber jackets, halter tops, and so on. It is well-known for its quality, but also for unique designs that incorporate illusion and creative construction. L.A.Roxx is also Hollywood’s go-to for iconic music video looks, including Britney Spears’ red “Oops! I Did It Again!” bodysuit and, most recently, Taylor Swift’s grungy look (…what you made her do).
[+] UNIVERSAL STANDARD
Women’s plus-sized fashion brand exclusively offers beautifully and thoughtfully designed fashion-forward pieces in sizes 10 to 28. Sheer dresses, leather skirts, wrap tops, and side-slitted pants abound. Plus, their 8-piece starter kit offers an entry point for the consumer, providing garments to create 20 looks with easy-to-wear essentials that pair effortlessly together and with your existing wardrobe too.
BreeLayne is an LA-based label that combines leather and luxury recycled fabrics with a focus on detail. Its eponymous founder, also a designer and actress, channels her own spirituality and love of the environment into every piece. After studying at prestigious fashion and art schools and working for top fashion houses, BreeLayne created her brand to change the luxury fashion industry by incorporating conscientious and environmentally responsible practices: pieces are made of deadstock (recycled) material in L.A. Her bold fabrics are pliable, fit to make every body type feel confident.
L.A.-based LACAUSA redefines basics by blending romantic silhouettes with a contemporary bohemian twist. Influenced by boundless landscapes, LACAUSA offers “effortless California chic without sacrificing the hand that feeds her.” Fabrics are sourced and sewn with trusted partners and in a Los Angeles factory with the highest standards in mind. In addition to supporting its local L.A. community, LACAUSA takes it a step further by working with environmental, human, and civil rights organizations and charities. They currently work with Downtown Women’s Center and have partnered with the ACLU, Standing Rock, and more in the past.
LPA epitomizes day-to-night. Dresses, jumpsuits, and more are stylish and chic, and can transition easily through a shoe swap and the addition of some accessories. Basically, these are pieces you can pair with an Iron Maiden graphic tee or a silky cream-colored shirt, and have a seamless outfit regardless. Prices are definitely up there, but they’re justified through the pieces’ extensive wearability. Plus, LPA founder and designer Pia Arrobio and I share a birthday, so this brand’s success is definitely destined to be.