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When Virgil Abloh was first starting to emerge into the underground streetwear scene with his debut brand Pyrex Vision in 2012, few could have predicted what lay ahead. In just a few short years, Abloh went from a little-known streetwear label boss to the most influential high-fashion designer on the planet, taking the helm at Louis Vuitton and spearheading haute couture’s streetwear renaissance.
There are similarly meteoric success stories all around the fashion world. Every era has its own Abloh, and each consecutive generation of fledgling designers, fashion-school graduates and emerging brands contains a number of heavyweights-to-be.
So who are these up-and-coming fashion forces and future legends? Well, nobody can say with complete certainty, but we’ve taken a stab at it and pulled together a list of fresh talent we feel is already setting the scene for the next wave of men’s fashion.
From lesser-known designers beginning to make waves in the mainstream to brand-new names you’ll be hearing a lot more of, here are our top up-and-coming designers to watch.
Founder of self-described “African American sportswear” label Denim Tears, Tremaine Emory has been steadily rising through the fashion ranks, using his platform to address issues around race and politics.
He was appointed creative director of Supreme in 2022 (a position from which he later resigned, alleging “systematic racism was at play within the structure of Supreme”) and has collaborated with the likes of Kanye West, Frank Ocean and even the late Virgil Abloh.
His brand has become one of the hottest on earth, propelled into the global spotlight thanks to a limited collection it helped create for Dior. We’d wager this is a name we’re all going to be hearing a lot more of over the coming years.
Emily Adams Bode
Thirty-four-year-old Emily Adams Bode was the first female designer to show at New York Fashion Week: Men’s. Her unique mix of comforting homely fabrics, textured knits, soft colours and flowery imagery has seen her brand Bode’s signature aesthetic labelled as ‘cottagecore’ by some industry commentators.
It’s a unique look that has earned her a cult following and a growing reputation as one of the most exciting designers on the scene at the moment. Think workwear silhouettes reimagined with quilting, crochet and patchwork aplenty.
Steven Stokey-Daley has had the sort of early career success most fashion-school graduates can only dream of. Since finishing his fashion design course at Westminster in 2020, he has worked on the menswear teams at Tom Ford and Alexander McQueen and has had his work featured in a Harry Styles music video.
He also won the prestigious LVMH prize in June of 2022 and has been praised for repurposing waste and deadstock fabrics.
Grace Wales Bonner
British-Jamaican designer Grace Wales Bonner has been making waves in the fashion world since her eponymous brand first emerged back in 2014. Her designs take inspiration from her heritage, interests and personality while promoting conversations about sexuality, race and politics through carefully curated lookbooks and award-winning runway shows.
She’s also the brains behind one of the most authentic and natural collaborations in recent memory with Adidas, which has played a key role in putting some of the German brand’s classic sneakers back under the spotlight.
Choreographer and menswear designer Saul Nash bases his clothes around the idea of freedom of movement. They’re sporty, technical and designed to be danced in.
Hailing from Northeast London, the young fashion powerhouse has already hoovered up a number of prestigious fashion awards, as well as being named a LVMH Prize 2021 semi-finalist and one of the omnipotent organisation’s 20 Emerging Designers.
His designs are informed by his love of dance, his London upbringing and his Afro-Caribbean roots, riffing on classic sportswear designs and adding his own unique elements.
Irish designer Robyn Lynch fuses sportswear and technical elements with traditional knits and tongue-in-cheek references to create her brand’s signature aesthetic.
The Woolmark Prize finalist is known for her sporty take on the traditional Arran jumper, her forward-thinking outerwear and her fresh and inventive runway shows, where she has designed collections around lighthearted concepts rather than getting overly deep and philosophical.
One of her seasons, for example, was inspired by an ‘I Got Crabs In Brighton’ T-shirt her mum purchased in the 1980s.
Another Supreme alumni, Angelo Baque served as brand director at the streetwear brand for 10 years, but is perhaps better known now as the founder of Awake NY. The Queens native sits alongside the likes of Teddy Santis and Brendon Babenzien in terms of his label’s streetwear-meets-traditional-menswear MO, but his keen eye for graphics puts him in a league of his own.
Baque isn’t exactly a new name in the scene. Still, with his contemporaries dominating and being headhunted for design positions at mainstream labels, there’s every chance we could be hearing it a lot more going forward.
Eli Russell Linnetz
Californian designer Eli Russell Linnetz is an LVMH Prize winner who has been causing a stir on the menswear circuit for a couple of years now. He’s a favourite of many of the celebrity world’s most daring dressers and has even outfitted A$AP Rocky for the 2021 Met Gala, putting the rapper in a multicoloured quilt-like gown.
His label, ERL, is known for its colourful and characterful takes on American classics, which are influenced heavily by his laid-back Venice Beach upbringing.
When he’s not designing clothes, he has worked designing tour stages for Kanye West, photographing the likes of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber and even directing music videos.
Central Saint Martins graduate Aaron Esh launched his namesake label in 2022 and is already receiving lots of attention from some of the biggest names in fashion. The LVMH Prize finalist plays with gender in his designs, taking elements from haute couture and womenswear and applying them to traditional menswear staples.
He’s coming to be known for bringing a fresh sense of elegance and softness to men’s clothing and has already bagged some of the world’s coolest and most exclusive fashion retailers as stockists.