Coming off the tail end of an incredibly rough year on retail, e-commerce juggernaut Net-A-Porter is launching the fifth season of its design incubator, The Vanguard, with the induction of three ultra-talented new brands Minjukim, JiaJia, and Artclub. One part mentorship program the other a financial backer, this innovative development program seeks to guide future fashion talent by giving them the resources and knowledge that they would otherwise lack navigating the early stages of a business. Speaking on the program Global Buying Director Elizabeth von der Goltz says, “Over the past four seasons we have had the incredible opportunity to witness the talented emerging brands in The Vanguard program grow towards long-lasting success. It is so important to us to provide insightful mentorship which we are committed to continuously developing.”
It is this guidance and ability to launch small emerging brands into highly coveted fashion mainstays that have made the globally renowned program a must-watch for any style enthusiast. With some past illustrious brand alumnae including, Peter Do and The Sant, these latest inductees will find themselves in good company.
This South Korean brand has already been making some pretty big waves among the fashion community. Launched in 2015 by the brand’s namesake Minju Kim who has already been nominated as a semi-finalist in the LVMH Prize for young fashion designers and won Netflix’s show Next in Fashion, it’s no surprise that she caught the attention of Net-A-Porter and The Vanguard. With her whimsical fairytale aesthetic and artful craftsmanship Kim has created a brand that perfectly marries elegance and youthfulness.
With a dedication to finding and showcasing the natural beauty of our planet through fine jewelry JiaJia is creating an unconventional approach to a sometimes highly traditional market. Designer Jia-Jia Zhu has always been fascinated by the beauty of stones, collecting them from beaches when she was a child growing up in California. It is this love for the organic allure of gems, in their natural state, that has led the brand to create pieces by taking hand-carved uncut and untreated crystals. Carefully crafting each piece into one-of-a-kind offerings set with gold and a selection of diamonds and semi-precious gemstones. This individualized approach to creating pieces ensures that customers get a truly unique custom piece.
Art and fashion have natural chemistry often inspiring and commingling together. That is exactly the vision that designer Heidi Middleton had when creating the brand Artclub. Built off of her background in painting and fine art, Middleton wanted to design a line that is a bridge between both mediums. Sustainability was also an incredibly important component to the brand, crafting limited-run pieces locally in Sydney, Australia using leftover and recycled fabrics. From stunning ultra-feminine lace dresses to structured high-waisted pants, there is a little bit of something for everyone.