Clothing that offers design and value
The price gap between designer luxury and fast fashion has never seemed so big. While you can pick up a floral print polyester mini dress for £15.49 from Chinese retailer Shein, resort dresses from top designers on Net-a-Porter are well into the four figures. Fortunately, a new generation of designers has spotted the gap, designing quality clothes at prices that don’t induce panic attacks.
“It’s a little weird,” says nine-month-old Anna Teurnell, founder of Swedish womenswear brand Teurn. “There should be more brands making quality clothes than the customer can afford.”
On Teurn’s online store, you can pick up a chic undyed organic cotton hybrid shirt/coat dress (£495, teurnstudios.com), an oversized polo sweatshirt in an Italian cotton/wool blend (£300) or a chino without darts (£340). Teurnell focuses on strong yet understated design, including brilliantly cut cuts and knits that will repeat through the seasons – “It looks like a smart way to build a collection. I want to be a brand that slows down a bit. But she adds curvy fashion pieces, what Teurnell calls ‘a twist’: silver sequined knee high boots (£630), a touch of candy pink leather, a long fringed scarf to tie over a T-shirt.
With an impressive resume — creative director of Finnish design brand Marimekko and senior creative roles at H&M Group, including head of design at Arket and & Other Stories — Teurnell has amassed a wealth of knowledge about clothing design and customer desire. “What I’ve learned in all the brands I’ve worked for is that you have a customer in mind, a perception of price and a level of quality, and in every job you have, you want to do your best for those criteria and for that client,” she says.
“What I do in Teurn is very close to my own sense of dress,” she says. “I like having a wardrobe that can cope with work, maternity, leisure. But to be relevant, you want to look here and now. Some things should be surprising.
King and Tuckfield
Inspired by vintage 1950s styles and a generally slower approach to fashion, British men’s and women’s label King & Tuckfield have grown steadily since their inception in 2016. Separate pieces are their signature – trousers Well-cut Katharine Hepburn, merino knits and offbeat color shirtings. “We are very funny about our colors, we don’t like to follow trends”, explains Stacey Wood, artistic director and co-founder with her partner Yannis Boutlas.
The brand sells on its website and wholesale through Net-a-Porter, Mr Porter, Ssense and other high-end retailers, and Wood says his customer has a sophisticated understanding of quality, fit and fabrics. . “Retailers put our product next to home fashion names because the quality is there, but I wanted to make our clothes affordable. A shirt with us is £250, but the one on the label next to us can cost £750. Why should people be overpriced?”
Fabrics are shared between the two ranges and a handful of fabrics and styles are carried over each season. “Customers come back for them and that means we’re not wasting fabrics or money designing whole new collections every season,” says Wood. “We end up using what we have.”
This year, King & Tuckfield menswear was in the spotlight – Donald Glover wore a yellow two-piece to the Vanity Fair Oscar party, and Chris Evans sported one of his retro-style knit shirts in the this month’s mega budget netflix movie The gray man. Observing that retailers and consumers are increasingly buying into both ranges – flowers have always been popular with the King & Tuckfield man – the brand is further streamlining the offering. Next season, King & Tuckfield is going gender fluid.
It was by spotting a beautifully dressed woman disembarking from a yacht in Saint-Tropez in 2017 that Danielle Jade Windsor launched Yaitte (a play on the Spanish word for yacht). A nautical, urban vibe underpins the look – perfectly casual, summed up by his signature butcher stripe shirt (£195, yaite.com) and matching elastic waist pants.
Windsor previously worked as a designer for Zara and led pre-collection design at Matthew Williamson. She’s a fabric fanatic, and each one is custom-made for Yaitte; The fabrics for shirts are produced in Italy, Portugal and Japan. But Windsor remains aware of the value. “I love buying nice clothes, but with my budget and salary I’ve always wanted to buy everything under £500,” she says. “It’s a big expense for me. If you can get two pieces under £500 and get a complete look, that’s even better.
Sold direct to the consumer via its website and via Moda Operandi, the label expands its range each season by testing small editions of new pieces (“I worked for Zara, I don’t want to overproduce”). A water-resistant gabardine mac with a removable hood and matching trousers will drop in early October, with prices for both under the magic of £500.
Some people may know Natalia Georgala as a Greek fashion influencer, but it’s hard to glean that from her fashion label. She launched Woera quietly in 2019, wanting to distance her online fashion persona from the brand that quickly rose to fame for its great shirts.
“We only use natural fibres, no polyester, lots of 100% organic cottons and work with Italian, Belgian and Swiss spinning mills,” explains Georgala. “Everything is made in Athens, because we want to keep production local.”
The offering has recently expanded to include menswear staples such as waistcoats, tailored pants and bathrobes. Prices start at around £200 for a poplin shirt, up to £670 for a coat. Customers can purchase directly from the website or through Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale’s.
Riley Uggla and Olivia Dowie founded Riley Studio in 2018 to show that “contemporary design and sustainability can go hand in hand,” says Dowie. Created from upcycled or waste products, the seasonless, gender-neutral clothing proposition started out as loungewear but has now evolved into wardrobe staples.
“We moved away from sweatshirts for upcycled knits and organic cotton pocket pants that can be buttoned at the ankle for a tapered or wide look,” says Dowie. “They are now our bestseller” (£195, Riley Studio). Think Gap or Uniqlo without the hassles of mass manufacturing relocation – everything is made in Europe or the UK.
The genderless aspect, which also applies to the Little Riley children’s range, was born out of a desire to control production. “We didn’t want to overproduce. It’s certainly a challenge in terms of design and fit and it eliminates some products – we’re never going to produce a dress or a skirt – but we only focus on pieces that we think are not necessary to have two categories of “says Dowie.
Working with technical innovators is essential. Last winter’s star was Riley’s first foray into outerwear, a puffer jacket made from recycled nylon, dyed using onion skins and rice husks and treated with a fluorocarbon-free water repellent ( £495, riley.studio). The next one under construction? A product using waste banana peels.
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