Forget Ralph Lauren and Dior – here’s a compilation of incredible underground fashion artists and designers you haven’t heard of. Though some have already made their mark, many are on the rise to becoming household names.
The handsome DJ turned fashion icon Massimo Giorgetti starts off the list with his innovative and popular line. The Italian designer opts for vibrant, bold pieces, focusing on brighter colors and eye catching patterns to express himself. His interesting, yet intriguing blends of patterns, shapes and styles have helped him gain a ton of success in the industry.
BY. Bonnie Young
Bonnie Young is relatively unknown, yet experienced in the fashion industry. Ms. Young is known for it’s breezy, casual style, with inspiration from southern styles and brands such as Anthropology and J. Crew. Her talent likely stems from her background with Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren.
Dexter and Byron Peart
Dexter and Byron started off working with well-known and respected brands such as Sixty and Diesel. Wanting to pay tribute for their love of adventure and luxury, the two combined to create high quality luggage and travel accessories. The items are sold in popular, high-end stores such as J. Crew.
Shayne Oliver has been working in fashion for about a decade, but still finds a way to stand out from the crowd. Oliver is known for his casual street style, such as long sleeved shirts, tees, and baggy sweatshirts. While Oliver was originally into screen-printing, he’s branched out to embrace other styles.
Fashion designer Area has truly on-of-a-kind style, with her monotone pieces and interesting shapes. Area is somewhat new to the fashion world, only debuting her line in the past few years. It’s a traditional, classic style with a vintage vibe that caters to trendy young professionals and fashionistas.
Tracey Reese has been a designer for decades, but didn’t gain notoriety until she nabbed the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama. Reese’s dresses and professional wear, which pair interesting, classy fabrics with traditional cuts, have been seen on other celebrities such as singer Alicia Keys.
Fashion line Mathys Sinclair is the new standard of cool, with two talented designers, Rachelle Sinclair and Thembi Hanify at the helm. The brand is new, but aspires to combine it’s new-agey feel and beliefs with minimal, accessible pieces that help simplify women’s lives and help them accept their bodies.
Willi Smith, though from Philadelphia, had no relation to the Fresh Prince. Smith was inspired by the urban fashion that he saw all over the city, leading him to design sports and leisurewear for men. He once worked with Spike Lee, and was known for his bold patterns. He unfortunately passed in the late 80s of AIDS.
Designers Esther Gauntlett and Jenny Cheng aspire to poke fun at corporate America with their unique line, Gauntlett Cheng. The two combine knits, plaid, and neutral colors to create suit inspired pants, tailored and pleated, as well as bathing suits. The two are eager to continue to get their innovative style out to the public.
Arthur McGee, an African American designer, has been interested and working in fashion since the 1950’s. He graduated from the Fashion Institute and worked for high end brands such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. He finally opened his own shop, which helped him gain the reputation of a talented, stylish designer.
Raul Solis, while very determined in regards to his fashion, is inspired by the fun and eccentric party world. Although his pieces are expensive, they’re extremely well-crafted, thanks to Solis and his experience in hemming luxury clothing. Solis is one of the most inventive and creative designers, with truly unique jackets, pants, and accessories.
Telfar Clemens’ line mixes business with pleasure with her sophisticated, yet lighthearted designs and outfits. She incorporates unexpected parts of traditional clothing and puts a new spin on tired pieces, such as jeans and sweatshirts. All of her pieces are imaginative and a new version of something old.
This IT girl line makes any woman want to pick up and head to Paris. Etienne Derœux is making French culture sophisicated again, with the classic, simple pieces and bold colors paired with neutrals. The designer also prides herself on reimagining traditional pieces into something new, while not giving into fashion stereotypes, such as stripes or jeans.
Armando Cabral isn’t just a designer, he’s a model. Cabral is known for his beautiful, high end footwear, made from only the best materials that money can buy. While he prefers the finer things, he also produces unexpected, yet extremely well made and impeccably designed items such as sneakers.
The mysterious Miss G, otherwise known as Caley Johnson, is an extremely inventive and daring designer, mastering the art of the headdress outside of a Halloween costume. The headdresses are extremely recognizable and donned by the fashion and nightlife world, as well as in theatre and film.
Maxwell Osborne and his assistant, Dao-Yi Chow, met while working in fashion, and set out to create classic pieces for men with a bit of edge. The two worked on two innovative labels, first Public School, then Black Apple. The two are extremely striking themselves, and are well known in New York City for their impeccable style and fame.
The beautiful and talented Carly Cushnie created Cushnie et Ochs, and was always involved in fashion. She bears an impressive resume, working with top notch designers such as Donna Karan, as well as Oscar De La Renta. Cushnie is known for her incredible style and simple, elegant pieces for women.
Duro Olewu isn’t new to fashion, and been creating bold patterns and styles for over a decade. He’s dressed the First Lady, and has worked with influential people such as Vogue editor Sally Singer. One of his secrets to success are producing well tailored, flattering outfits. He continues to hustle, even winning “New Designer of The Year”.
Jonny and Chris Cota may have come from almost nothing, but they’ve sought out to be the masters of the new sophisticated goth. The dynamic duo has created a line of extremely updated apparel, including fashion must have such as jacket and pants. The two have presented their line all over the world.
Scott Barrie, inspired by a family member, always wanted to work in fashion. He traveled all around the world with his designs and inspired many strangers, but mostly his family, with his incredible talent. In fact, before his unfortunate death, Barnie didn’t get a lot of support from his family, who were very concerned for his well-being.
Designer duo (and couple) Cassidy Haley and Jillian Ann have put together a highly stylish and creative line, that’s more like art then wearable pieces. But the two are seen as visionaries in the fashion world, with their bold styles and imaginative pieces, which take a spin on more traditional pieces.
Jeffrey Banks, an entrepreneurial man, got his feet wet in the fashion world thanks to designers Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. He was responsible for some of the most unique pieces, which ranged from furs for men to business wear. He’s still making clothing and has exposure all over the globe.
Martine Rose is another talented designer with interesting pieces for men, including rustic, yet stylish jackets. She’s also created pieces such as high end leisurewear and tailored pieces. She’s well known as a menswear designer, and maintains a lot of clients and consistent interest in her work.
Joe Casely-Hayford is an experienced designer, with a diverse background in men’s and women’s fashion. He’s collaborated with celebrities such as U2, and stores such as TopShop, making him a household name. He’s also worked with rock stars, and is well known in London, where he lives with his family.
b. michael wasn’t always a designer, but decided to jump into the fashion world to fulfill her creative interests. It paid off. Michael is now a well respected designer, even working with high end celebs such as Halle Berry and the Williams sisters on their clothing. He’s one of the most experienced designers on the list.
Agape Mdumulla, who partially runs Agi & Sam, once worked with Alexander McQueen, helping him gain experience, as well as certainty that he wanted to be a designer. His partner, Sam Cotton, are inspired by 90s fashion, or at the very least, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which shows in their slightly vintage looking pieces.
Edward Wilkerson is a wealthy women’s sportswear guru, founder of the popular brand Lafayette 148. Wilkerson is inspired by many different cultures, and encourages other aspiring designers to get out and try their hand at fashion, even if they’re inexperienced. Wilkerson is known for his extremely sophisticated pieces.
Matthew Adams Dolan
Matthew Adams Dolan hit the ground running and never looked back, striking luck early on in his fashion career. Dolan is close friends to a lot of celebrities, which include Lady Gaga, due to his extremely unique, yet traditional pieces. He’s inspired by various cultures and credits his style with a history of hopping from place to place.
The music mogul Simmons started Phat Farm to be different, with some inspiration from more traditional brands such as Ralph Lauren. The brand is still extremely popular, though Simmons isn’t as nearly as involved as he once was. Yet, the line lives on, striking a chord with people who are drawn to an urban, yet modern look.
Patric DiCaprio of Vaquera started with nothing, moving to NYC in his early 20s. The line is a collaborative project, with eclectic pieces that have ties to vintage attire from the early 90s/late 80s. The designers are inspired by the do-it-yourself wave, and like to create fun, yet simple pieces.
Olivier Rousteing, who once worked for Roberto Cavalli, has a lot riding on his shoulders. However, even though he’s had some doubters, he has earned the respect of the most fashion forward musicians and rappers. The young fashion professional has a lot ahead of him, though he’s had a considerable amount of experience in the fashion world.
Patrick Robinson is known for his extensive experience with multiple brands, hitting the refresh key on fashion lines who have fallen a bit flat. His unique style and good eye have led him to dedicate his career to helping other brands succeed. In his early years, however, he made surf wear, and has obviously come a long way since.
Andrew Ramroop started his fashion career in the very late 60s, and struggled with discrimination as he tried to establish a career. Ramroop became an extremely successful entrepreneur and business man, on top of being known for his impeccable taste in suits, high standards, and fine detailing.
The trendy Indonesian Linda Morokos loves accessories and classic pieces, and has the work to prove it. Her brand is extremely laid back, but still fashionable, designer in order to let women dress minimally without compromising fashion, comfort or trendiness. Women love her line, and are drawn to it for all of the comfortable, yet very stylish pieces.
Ozwald Boateng, the master of a great looking suits, has worked in fashion for over a decade, once working in the film industry in wardrobe departments. The fashionista also made his mark in his entrepreneurial successes and career as a Creative Director for luxury brand Givenchy.
The fashion duo and couple, Blake Schulhauser and Lauren Iredale, thave mastered the casual and artistic look with their line, Inkspoon. The company makes one of a kind pieces and have recently opened a store to help keep up with the demand for their incredible, unique pieces.
Dapper Dan, if it’s not obvious by his name, is extremely talented and popular in the fashion world. His work has ranged from high end luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton to rappers such as Funkmaster Flex. He’s seen as the father of street fashion, due to his inspiring work and background.
The brand Misbhv is new, but is all anyone can talk about in the fashion world. Misbhy may have casual roots, but have gained the attention of IT girls and celebrities with it’s effortless chic baggy pants, long jackets, and tailored detailing. Mishby has also gone international, with roots in Poland, but has extended its reach worldwide.
Marco de Vincenzo
Marco de Vincenzo is well on his way to taking the fashion world for his own, stunning fashion shows with his gorgeous outfits and accessories. The Italian designer has incredible detailed, vibrant dresses and pieces, ranging from demure and classic to bold and obscure. He also has an impressive line of footwear for women.
Marc Hare may very well be the king of footwear, once working with Levi’s before going out on his own. Hare is a newcomer to the fashion world, but has already gained a lot of success and attention in the fashion industry and diehard sneaker fans. Hare is also known for his charming, friendly personality.
Stephen Burrows helped put African American designers on the map, with his extensive work in the fashion world for the past few decades. The award winner is known for his 70s retro looks, working with celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey. His bold, vibrant colors and patterns continue to gain him respect from other designers.