You may not have heard them coming, but they already have a cashmere-cocooned hold on a substantial slice of the fashion pie. And why not? These “quiet brands”, as we personally think of them – no logos, no flashy designs, no loud advertising campaigns, oftentimes no physical stores, even – are focused on what a growing number of consumers want today: Wearable, classic clothes made of beautiful fabrics in a socially conscious manner, and at affordable prices.
“Fewer, better things,” is the slogan of one of these brands, Cuyana. With shrinking closet space and maturing taste, we can’t agree more. Here’s where we love to shop now.
Otherwise known as the Whole Foods of fashion, New York-based Zady started as a e-commerce platform to spotlight “those companies that care about timeless style and solid construction”. Last year, it launched its own clothing line, a tight edit of classics including an alpaca sweater and organic cotton tees that are ethically sourced and produced. We especially love the Chronicle section on its website that shares insight on raw materials and mindful fashion.
Luxury items with minimal markup? Yes please. Online retailer Everlane cuts costs by producing its own sleek clothes and accessories and selling them directly to consumers. Its products are made in small facilities, a little at a time so that quality is consistently up to scratch (though that also means that things sell out fast and you have to wait for the next batch). The best part? The designs are gorgeous in their simplicity. Hard to believe the founder is an ex computer engineer!
You’re one hardened shopper if you leave this online store with nothing. Ayr was founded by Maggie Winter, a former senior merchant in J.Crew’s women’s retail division, and it espouses high quality, low maintenance and good design “that should last forever”. From beautifully cut capes in Italian wool to crisp white shirts and delicate silk slips, every sophisticated piece here is designed to “look like a hug”, says Winter. We think of it as our Hermes-on-a-shoestring fix.
Aussie-run Grana is based in Hong Kong, but it sources its premium fabrics from all over the globe. Cotton from Peru, denim from Japan, silk from China – you get the drift. Its designs are just as informed: Timeless wardrobe essentials that look like the sort cool girls wear (and probably are). It operates mostly online, but look out for its pop-up stores around Asia where you can try and buy.
A life free of clutter is what Cuyana is all about – and while that doesn’t mean you should turn up to work in the same thing every day, what you can do is whittle your wardrobe down to a smart handful of good pieces (like the ones from this San Fracisco startup). It’s a philosophy that sounds quite French, but is far less intimidating when it comes to opening up your wallet: Instead of blowing a month’s salary on that expensive tweed suit or designer bag, all you need is a couple hundred dollars for a well-made silk shirtdress or a chic shoulder bag (you can even slap on a monogrammed leather tassle for a mere USD$35 extra).