The fact of following fashion trends faithfully is that they tend to confine us to molds. As soon as the designers of taste declare the return of a silhouette or cut, one can expect that everyone with a flair for fashion will wear the same thing. The same goes for forecasts that cover the color of the year or impressions that come back. They fill the catwalks, dress pages, social media feeds, and the streets, making most of us look more like fashion clones than icons.
It’s the delicate thing in fashion. Trends and forecasts shed light on what’s relevant. They sum up the overall style temperament and mood of a season. The way you personalize them, however, will distinguish between trendy and well dressed.
Of all seasons, summer is when designers, stylists, creative directors and writers go out of their way. During these months, fashion opens its heart to color, prints, textures and a wide range of shapes. Now is also the time to choose pieces that really stand out. With the promise of a few vaccines re-emergence, the last thing you want is to walk out in the same white dress or sheer cover-up as everyone else. Here, brands under the radar that will inspire you to go beyond the summer fashion trends of 2021. This is not a trend report.
WAIMARI is the classic white dress and the sheer blanket, but with a lot of chic Colombian flavor. The resort clothing brand based in Barranquilla, Colombia was founded by two sisters. Waimari was born out of the desire to save their old family factory from closure. Creations celebrating the urge to travel and the colorful lifestyle in the tropics of northern Colombia distinguish the brand’s dresses, coordinates and summer dresses. Each piece is executed by local craftsmen following the craft techniques of past generations. The team explains: “Traditional manufacturing techniques, craftsmanship and details are essential for us. Nothing is mass produced and everything is handmade with love.
A true resort fashion, the brand’s flagship pieces are their white dresses. A very distinct approach to creating shapes and textures makes their designs immediately stand out. Example: The Lorenza dress from this year’s spring / summer collection evokes old world glamor via an asymmetrical neckline. Intricate seashell patterns, pom poms and scalloped trims usher in an effortless sensual feel of a season in the sun.
USHATAVA is a Moscow-based brand that revisits the use of silk for the summer. Founded by Nino Shamatava and Alisa Ushakova, the brand has gained traction among fashion insiders with an appreciation for under the radar staples and effortlessly chic. Their silks capsule collection was designed for a very demanding audience. The idea was to create a compact wardrobe of staples that could take you from town, to the private shed, and finally, to your dream island getaway.
Oversized silk shirts, wide pants, and off-the-shoulder dresses are key pieces that can be worn in countless ways. The silhouettes are decidedly soft and easy, indicating a time for freedom and movement. Retouching a timeless shirt dress to create an asymmetrical neckline was nothing short of genius. The palette is muted but refreshing to the eyes. Creams, grays and taupe with subtle reflections of fine silk are reminiscent of vast sandy beaches or oceans that sparkle under the full moon.
NILUU is a sustainable luxury loungewear brand that tailors pieces to stay put that look like pieces from a fashion page. Known for its vegan silk kimonos, the brand has also expanded to include wide pants that you’ll want to pack for your next summer getaway. They work with textile innovators from Turkey and draw inspiration from the country’s rich luxury tradition in their designs.
Their Alyx pants, available in Blush, Black or the signature Monroe print, are a versatile piece that presents a chic alternative to the season’s requisite white pants. Crafted from vegan silk, this planet-conscious, style-conscious staple can transform a classic swimsuit into a sophisticated outfit for seaside cocktails. I love how effortlessly luxurious it looks with a bikini top and a white men’s shirt thrown over it. It also completes a crisp, sleek ensemble for the city when worn with a kimono or matching wrap top.
MY812 knows how to interpret nostalgia in clothes in the most elegant and refined way. Working from their workshop in St. Petersburg, their team of artisans cut, folded and sewn the finest Italian textiles to create sophisticated silhouettes that celebrate women. “We buy fabric in stock to evolve our collection, which in turn reduces oversupply and adds a lasting touch to our supply chain,” adds the MY812 team.
The Spring / Summer 2021 collection is a poignant tribute to his childhood. Founder and brand designer, Albina Zueva explains: “This collection is my memory of childhood, of the house where I spent my summers, of home textiles, of my grandmother’s girlfriends in their skillfully knitted shawls and lace handkerchiefs, hours spent with grannies at the table embroidering snow-white cotton.
Soft pink fabric with delicate floral prints is transformed into a backless dress with large ruffle sleeves. It is a classic piece that strikes the perfect balance between soft and sensual. The Nymphea dress, a tiered maxi that dances with your every move, impresses as the kind of dress to waltz the season. Divine in design, the white tulip dress features a beautifully full bodice that closes with three delicate knots at the back. It’s a gorgeous piece to wear to show off her sunny shoulders and legs. Although seemingly simple in form and detail, the parts of MY812 are meticulously crafted. “It takes weeks of manual labor and a lot of effort on everyone’s part.” This season’s collection is proof that less is more. It also reminds us why the simplest things take the most work – because there is no room or lint to hide flaws.
Parts NISSE should be a staple in any jet setter’s wardrobe. They are made with form, function, movement and distinction in mind. The designs imagined by Nargisse Akyuz are inspired by historical icons. They are made using recycled, organic and vegan materials sourced from certified suppliers across Europe.
For Spring Sumer 2021, the brand is experimenting with unexpected fabric combinations. Cashmere prints meet knitwear. The sheets are paired with handmade appliques. There is a play of texture, movement and subdued colors, punctuated by a clean cut. The idea was to capture the excitement of traveling to your dream summer vacation. To quote the NISSE team, “The timeless and voluptuous cuts, knitwear and cashmere prints create feminine silhouettes walking on the tarmac.” The whole collection is all you need for a Mediterranean summer stay. In my eyes, these clothes which give the prospect of washing up on a beautiful island seem even more dreamy to me.
I AMEMME makes sewing pieces that you can actually wear. The brand’s signature pleats are entirely handcrafted. The same goes for cutting and sewing. In the J’AMEMME studio, the clothes are made on the basis of uncompromising quality. Brand designer Julie Yarmoliuk redefines femininity through sculptural shapes, unique fabric treatments and cuts that move with the body. Now a regular on the New York Fashion Week scene, the has become a favorite of style designers like Maye Musk and Kat Graham.
Hand-pleated tops, pants and dresses are additions to a summer wardrobe, especially in a time of re-emergence. Pleated tops, paired with wide pants or pleated bottoms immediately turn brunch with girls into a fashionable moment. Dresses with exaggerated puffed sleeves are essential in a summer suitcase. These are essentials to wear for dining on the beach or for cocktails with a view of the sunset.
MARIANA SENCHINA it’s romance, retro and rock ‘n roll all in one. The brand has been worn by icons like Rihanna and Dua Lipa. Iconic polka dots, ruffles and bows bring a sense of nostalgia and femininity to a modern outfit. The designs are taken from different eras including the 50s, 60s, and even the hard-edged 80s. There are references of flower power intelligently integrated into contemporary silhouettes. The plaid prints on the off-the-shoulder dresses and the matching berets are reminiscent of the elegance of Jackeline Kennedy-Onassis. Square jackets and Bermuda shorts with polka dot prints are nods to the powerful dressing in a true femme fatale form.
The pieces of the Spring / Summer collection paint a picture of city life in summer. Well-fitting Bermuda shorts, cream pantsuits and cardigans are perfect for work days and lazy weekends. A coordinating dark brown polka dot set is an ideal set for sailing around turquoise seas. If you’re looking to channel the superstar within you, a classic white polka dot dress is made for a stately entrance. Pair with oversized sunglasses in case the paparazzi are swarming.