With unprecedented change occurring throughout the fashion industry, the need to support independent and emerging creatives remains as important as ever. Core to our business and ethos, we created YUGEN to share the stories of creatives from around the world, and dedicate this YUGEN 10 edition to some of the up-and-coming labels of the moment. Craft, storytelling, vision, and ethos - take your pick, the talent is endless.
Act nº1 (Italy)
“Both of us had the same kind of childhood. Being born and raised in different countries but still living all our childhood with traditions made us find a common story, which was multicultural, even interracial, which has conveyed us to base a brand identity on this.”
From the hands of Luca Lin and Galib Gassanoff, Act nº1 was born in 2016 as a womenswear label defined by the inherent union of a multicultural heritage (Chinese and Azerbaijani, respectively) and unrestrained 90s streetwear childhood memories. Gauzy and grunge, Act nº1 is versatile in its collections, spanning from cross-deconstructions and reworked Chinese silk robes, to Azerbaijani floral patterns and embroidered traditional images - all of which are tailored to an Italian finish. Denim, satin and velvet, but also septum safety pins, chains and exaggerations; Act nº1 is boundless like few others.
At Melampo , sisters Lulù and Anna Poletti are continuing their family’s two-generation renowned shirt craftsmanship business with their new venture in the fashion world: a womenswear label established in 2014. Taking inspiration from artfully diverse and primary sources, Polettis’ designs blend Italian technique, Period Age research and the volume of fabric together in high quality architectonic garments. Victorian and Romantic, with geometric structures and floral prints, Melampo experiments with silhouette and dynamism in a vision embodying an elegant classicism made anew.
Asai Takeaway (UK)
“It’s about taking something familiar and then making it more extreme—and then making it be something else. You don’t know where it becomes or ends sometimes.”
The work of A Sai Ta - a British-Chinese-Vietnamese Central Saint Martins graduate - Asai Takeaway debuted in 2017 at London Fashion Week with the support of Fashion East. Best known for its technically complex nylon second-skin fits, Asai Takeaway colourfully explores the intersection of the designer’s cultural heritage found in the hybridisation of his creative influences, lifestyles, and designs. Whether this is through his highly desired kaleidoscopic ‘Hot Wok tops’ or Ming vase porcelain boots, Ta creates technicolour fantastical items for an alternative modern dressing. Daring and authentic, Asai Takeaway is already the new rave in the East London club scene.
Richard Malone (UK)
“I focus primarily on cutting and silhouette, although comfort is always something I really consider…Why would a woman not want a pocket in her skirt to keep her phone in? Why would she need to be waist-trained to fit into a dress?”
Irish designer and Central Saint Martins graduate, Richard Malone, is the creative behind this eponymous womenswear label, founded in 2014. A fierce advocate for sustainability, Malone is no stranger to responsible approaches involving organic fibres, Fair Trade labour and regenerative farming; his Woolmark Prize collection, for example, was completely biodegradable and coloured with plant-based dyes. His designs are also another concept of their own. Directional and sculptural, Malone garments emphasise strategic pattern cutting and high quality skilled tailoring to celebrate the bodies and experiences of working women. Overflowing with print, pop art and psychedelic avant-garde, Malone balances the careful line between functionality and design.
“I have always loved looking through old family photos and analysing what everyone wore; I’m quite nostalgic and sentimental.”
Championing a sustainable mindset, University of Westminster graduate Priya Ahluwalia launched her namesake label in 2018 to create menswear clothing out of vintage, organic and dead stock clothing. Led by a nostalgic feel, Ahluwalia is an array of streetwear, eclectic knitwear and sharp tailoring that takes inspiration from the designer’s Indian-Nigerian heritage and her childhood in 90s London. Rich colour palettes and bold patterns coexist in harmony among the many mismatched fabrics, surprising patchwork panels and asymmetric constructions found in her collections. Youthfully vibrant, Ahluwalia was awarded the joint winning LVMH Prize 2020.
Supriya Lele (UK)
“I use my heritage in a modern way, by looking at cut, colour and fabrication. Occasion wise, I like to mix high and low fabrics together, whether it’s silk and rubber or mesh and tulle with Indian fabrics and clothes, that often have this richness.”
Following her MA from the Royal College of Art, Supriya Lele debuted her eponymous womenswear label in 2017 at London Fashion Week under the sponsorship of BFC’s NewGen. Modern, subversive, 90s minimalist but with a delicate observation of the female form, Supriya Lele explores the cross cultural intersection of an Indian heritage and a British cultural identity in today’s contemporary world. The juxtaposition of visual codes and a deconstructed persona play a central role in the brand’s creative vision, and designs often mix asymmetric drapes with careful tailoring or punk inspired outerwear with a sensual sheer chiffon underneath. Lele was another winner of the joint LVMH Prize 2020.
Yang Li (UK)
With his characteristic subtle rebellion, Chinese-born and former Raf Simons intern, Yang Li, launched his eponymous label in 2010. Technically complex but subversive, Yang Li combines classic tailoring with 90s minimalism, often experimenting with double-face constructions and handmade-machine details for a voluminous punk finish. His use of sporty techno fabrics and layered clothing pieces draw inspiration from his childhood days spent skateboarding and in the basketball court. Expect tuxedo cargo pants, perfecto biker jacket-top, cashmere layers and signature classic shirts sliced down the back evoking brutalist forms and attractive intentions.
Peter Do (USA)
“Every detail is considered. We are clean, but not minimal.”
Founded in 2018 by Vietnamese-born Peter Do from the Fashion Institute of Technology, this New York based eponymous label is changing things up for the classic tailoring. A Zendaya and Celine Dion favourite, Peter Do designs for a modern, confident and versatile woman who is able to blend impeccable tailoring with innovative constructions and intelligent fabric choices. His sheer “spacer” fabric in particular, remains a brand staple, for its flexible use and amazing performance qualities; developed while he was a student, we can find it in his high-quality sophisticated ensembles of fine tailored blazers, button-downs, sleek skin-tight knitwear, and functional pocket dresses. Winner of the 2014 LVMH Award, Peter Do offers a refreshing take on clear, sophisticated wear.
“I always like for things to be balanced, so if there are angular elements, there needs to be a certain roundness too.”
Airy and organic, VeniceW is the brainchild of Venice Wanakornkul, a Thai-American Parsons graduate, who debuted her eponymous womenswear label off-schedule for SS20 with a collection inspired by the shape of birds and paper tissues. Specialising in high quality linen and lace, VeniceW defends a natural expression of glamour at its most mundane level, reflective of the designer’s rare fascination with the little things in life. Paper crinkled cotton garments in relaxed silhouettes and shredded streetwear jackets in neutral monochromes are some of Wanakornkul’s visions to admire.
We've already mentioned Ader Error in our Korean Streetwear work here, but worth bringing the brand up again because we are such fans!. Hailing all the way from Seoul, Ader Error was founded in 2014 by an anonymous global team of young creatives, drawing inspiration from imperfection and the missed moments in everyday life as an opportunity for aesthetic drawing and fashion. Uniquely minimalist and contemporary aware, Ader Error reinterprets streetwear staples into unorthodox oversized silhouettes of bold primary colour and clean design. An innovative retro-futuristic label with a powerful visual identity, Ader Error is the expectation of the unexpected. Bright and very cheeky, indeed.