Rising Stars: Five Emerging Designer Brands

Despite the economy, these labels are showing great promise as they step into the limelight.

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Designer Sophie Gittins

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Sophie Gittins

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Sophie Gittins
Spring '09

The look: “Each collection stems from an artistic or architectural influence, culminating in shoes that are classically feminine, but imbued with a modern architectural edge. The streamlined silhouettes enable the focus to fall firmly on the textured silks, soft nappas and plush suedes used throughout. For me, achieving an elegant balance is paramount.”

How she learned: Cordwainers, London College of Fashion

Biggest challenge so far: “Taking the initial plunge of establishing a luxury company within the economic downturn. ... I was fortunate because London has always nurtured young designers. There is an understanding that during these tough times, fewer people are likely to strike out on their own, and so those need greater guidance than ever before.”

Most looking forward to: “We are combining some beautifully detailed fabrics and leathers with some very elegant shapes for fall ’10. Each season brings greater clarity and understanding when designing, so I’m eagerly anticipating seeing the next collection completed.”

Where to shop: Nina and Lola, London

The retail buzz:
“Sophie is most definitely going to go far. The difference between female and male designers is most visible in footwear, I find. Sophie’s shoes enclose the foot softly, and her heel is ever so slightly lower than average. All this will help Sophie build a loyal customer base, as it’s hard to find an elegant and comfortable shoe. In terms of the pure design, I adore Sophie’s use of innovative fabrics and the confident mix of graphic prints and details. Still, the shoes do not overpower an outfit or scream ‘look at me.’”

— Nina May, owner & buyer, Nina and Lola

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