From psychedelic explorations of Nigerian masculinity to subversions of prom-dress Americana and punk glamour – meet the new generation of radical creatives refreshing luxury fashion.
Born in Woolwich, A Sai Ta spent his childhood alternately assisting his seamstress mother with piecework on their living-room floor and taking orders at the local Blue Sea Noodle Bar. Clearly, those two activities have played formative roles in his nascent brand. His bestseller is his Hot Wok Top – a tie-dye nylon number assembled with seams of curling ribbons – while his expertise with fabric appears in tangle-threaded trousers and monofilament knits. Creating collections that are at once an homage to his Vietnamese roots and his south London youth, his tongue-in-cheek mash-ups of East-meets-West stereotypes have found cult status on both sides of the globe – and deservedly so.
Patric DiCaprio, Bryn Taubensee and Claire Sullivan often describe their brand, Vaquera, as “fashion fan fiction”, saying that they “aim to question industry norms and often reference iconic fashion in order to do so”. Thus far, that has meant polo shirts starring illustrated idols such as Martin Margiela and Andre Walker, a contemporary reworking of Vera Wentworth’s 1909 Suffragette uniform and subversions of prom-dress Americana – all contained within collections that strive to redefine the meaning of luxury. “We believe luxury can be conceptually rich clothing, and not just made with expensive materials,” they explain. “We’re interested in telling stories through our clothes – and we want our customers to feel like they can be a part of that.”
The brainchild of designer Anthony Symonds and stylist Max Pearmain, this brand presents a brilliantly nuanced – and completely covetable – perspective on contemporary design. “We believe in fashion and we want to make clothes that reflect that,” explains Pearmain – or, in Symonds’s more oblique terms, think “a light-hearted conversation between a pair of vintage Katharine Hamnett fatigues and an Yves Saint Laurent status blouse, refereed by a Buffalo Gal”. What results is a glamorous vision of casual wear, paying tribute to punk theatricality with exacting finesse – what more could you want?