The London fashion scene is unparalleled when it comes to originality and creativity, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the work of the city’s pioneering new gen fashion designers. From more inclusive silhouettes and innovative materials to deconstructed tailoring and ground-breaking sustainable fabrics, these are the most exciting new names and emerging London brands to have on your radar for 2023.
New gen fashion designers
New gen fashion designer Helen Kirkum uses the term ‘remastering’ to describe her craft of collaging discarded trainer-parts to make new ones. Her eco-friendly approach – which she refers to as “turning trash into treasure” – has earnt her a cult following among sneakerheads, who love her alternative approach to the waste of mass-production.
To make her creations, Kirkum works with UK clothing charities to salvage components from some of the billions of tonnes of unpaired trainers people throw away every year. For her latest Palimpsest collection, she took 824 unusable single shoes and turned them into 137 pairs of one-off creations, each with their own unique character.
Dublin-born, London-based fashion designer Sinéad O’Dwyer has become known as a forceful voice in the demand for inclusivity in fashion. In her 2023 show, she celebrated sizes 6-30 and included people who use wheelchairs on the catwalk.
For her latest SS24 collection, she returned to the halls of her alma mater, The Royal College of Art, and explored after-school dressing rituals, showcasing remodelled shirts and mohair pullovers and cardigans reminiscent of her secondary school uniform. Her signature figure-cladding, webbed sleeve dresses also made an appearance, as well as floor-skimming gowns in schoolhouse stripes.
Greek-born, London-based designer Eftychia Karamolegkou interned for Mary Katrantzou and Marques Almeida before being accepted to Central Saint Martins, where she graduated with a Masters in Womenswear in 2017. She founded her eponymous label a year later, which has become known for its understated use of tailoring.
Dubbed by the designer herself as “haute couture for tomboys”, her pieces are characterised by relaxed tailoring that blurs the lines between the masculine and feminine. Her concise bi-annual capsule collections feature only 12 or 13 looks, in a bid to be as sustainable as possible, with the majority of her pieces produced in London.
New York-born Conner Ives broke all the rules when he started selling his “reconstituted” clothes as a first-year Central Saint Martins student in 2017. Despite sustainability studies not being on the curriculum yet, he was set on using deadstock fabric and recycled vintage clothing to craft his pieces, making gowns from vintage scarves he sourced in London vintage stores.
Best known for her stiletto heels spliced with deadstock materials from discarded trainers, London-based Fashion East alumna Ancuta Sarca fuses femininity and masculinity to create a look that is entirely her own.
Her unconventional hybrid heels – a perfect combination of sportswear and luxury – first debuted in 2019 and have gone on to be worn by everyone from FKA Twigs to Cher, with the Romanian-born designer being hailed as one of the fashion world’s sustainable innovators to watch. Her latest collection features knee-high quilted leather boots and delicate silver flower sandals crafted from Nike trainer cast-offs.
You’re probably already familiar with Di Petsa’s designs – the label founded by Greek designer Dimitra Petsa in 2019 is known for its signature ‘Wetlook’ dresses, which have been worn by the likes of Bella Hadid, Doja Cat and Zendaya. Petsa’s pieces explore the relationship between women and water, responding to the female form while also deconstructing feelings of shame surrounding the female body.
Designed to embrace all sizes, gender expressions and phases of the changing bodies of a woman – Gigi Hadid famously wore a Di Petsa dress to reveal her baby bump in 2020 – her signature ‘wet’ fabric took six months to develop and remains a closely guarded secret.
Ever since his debut collection in 2021, Welsh-Italian designer Paolo Carzana has been labelled as one to watch, with veteran fashion journalist Sarah Mower describing him as a “visionary” and likening his talent to that of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.
Comparisons between him and McQueen aren’t altogether surprising, given he’s currently the Designer in Residence at McQueen’s Sarabande Foundation. His delicately-wrought designs draw on threads of Welsh history and mythology for inspiration, evoking diaphanous faeries and changelings. But it’s the exquisite tailoring that really sets his pieces apart, with Carzana describing his look as “tender tailoring with strength and fragility”.
Artist, social justice advocate, sustainable fashion designer – British-Nigerian Tolu Coker has amassed many titles since launching her eponymous label at London Fashion Week in 2018. With celebrities like Rita Ora and Rihanna already wearing her designs, and numerous industry awards under her belt, London-based Coker is poised to change the face of womenswear.
Her collections, which use excess fabrics from textile factories to cut down on manufacturing waste, explore diasporic Black identity through mixed mediums, often complemented by illustrations, photography and film. For SS24, she made her London Fashion Week debut with ‘Irapada’, an elegant collection that drew on her Yoruba roots.