Spencer Badu


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A self-taught designer, Spencer Badu operates in a post-gender space, offering luxury streetwear that’s received the stamp of approval from style stars like A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar. He’s also received much critical acclaim, including a nomination for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent, Fashion, at the 2021 Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards. With an aesthetic informed by Bauhaus, the early-20th-century. creative movement that espoused strong lines and functional forms, Badu brings a sense of cool restraint to the sartorial exploration of his Ghanaian-Canadian heritage. Badu, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., frequently looks to the concept of uniform dressing for inspiration, which has resulted in things like a bright-green workwear-inspired suit and, more recently, reconstructed football jerseys made from deadstock polyester. “The idea of the uniform comes from Canada,” Badu told Complex last year. “And when I think of Ghana, it’s more the silhouettes, the colour and the details, and ultimately what we try to do is juxtapose all those ideas and create something different, but I think both places have significance in the creative process.” Badu produces about 90 percent of his collection in Canada, and he recently expanded his offerings to include jewellery through a partnership with Canadian accessories brand Vitaly.


Peter Do


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In an era of shameless self-promotion—practically a necessity to make it in today’s world—Peter Do is a rarity who’s known for being intensely private, seldom revealing his face in photos. But it’s safe to say that he’s been under intense surveillance all the same. In May, Helmut Lang tapped the designer to join the brand as its new creative director, an appointment that aligns flawlessly with Do’s signature aesthetic, which is often informed by the 1990s minimalism that Helmut Lang shaped. It’s a hire that comes with plenty of highly relevant experience. Born in Vietnam, Do immigrated to the U.S. as a teen and went on to study at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, where he was the recipient of the inaugural LVMH Graduate Prize in 2014. He then moved to Paris to work at Phoebe Philo’s Celine before returning stateside to join Derek Lam. In 2018, he co-founded his namesake label with a group of four friends, and their work quickly gained steam. Do’s sharp tailoring, cool confidence and slow-fashion approach have earned him a strong following among industry insiders and celebs alike—Zendaya is a fan—as well as three CFDA Fashion Awards nominations and a finalist nod for the 2020 LVMH Prize. Do’s bold new direction is filled with big ambition, and we’re definitely here for it.


Dorian Who


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Personal expression through fashion has helped Dorian Who founder Dorian Rahimzadeh find her focus as a designer. After growing up in Iran, Rahimzadeh studied fashion design at LaSalle College in Istanbul before moving to Toronto, where she entered the industry by volunteering at Toronto Fashion Week. In 2019, she struck out on her own and launched Dorian Who, an avantgarde streetwear brand focused on slow-made, seasonless fashion. Incorporating deadstock fabrics, Rahimzadeh’s made-to-order pieces reflect her Persian heritage, and each of her collections is focused on a different theme. Her fifth collection, released earlier this year, is called “Noor” and was inspired by a show of solidarity with oppressed communities around the globe and their emerging movements. Bold tones and prints and military fabrics are a call for attention and the need for women’s voices to be heard, while the contrast between traditionally masculine and feminine elements reflects the individual’s search for gender equality. In 2022, she was nominated for the Award for Emerging Talent, Fashion, at the Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards. Given the brand’s aim to empower those who wear its designs, it’s no surprise that one of Dorian Who’s signature pieces is a padded headband—a crownlike statement maker that’s fit for a queen.


Elena Velez


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Elena Velez’s hometown of Milwaukee, Wis., is better known for beer and cheese than haute couture, but that’s exactly why it provides the designer with the inspiration to create pieces that are unlike anything else on the runways. Incorporating elements of the kind of traditional metalwork found in the Midwest, Velez’s designs are a biting take on the power of femininity, and they have developed a fan base that includes Charli XCX, Solange Knowles and Rico Nasty. Now based in New York City, where, in 2021, she made her Fashion Week debut, Velez is on a mission to democratize fashion-industry resources and access for those living outside of the traditional fashion capitals of the globe. She won American Emerging Designer of the Year at the 2022 CFDA Fashion Awards, a clear indication that her refreshing perspective is reaching the right eyes. As a guest of Balenciaga’s at this year’s Met Gala, Velez dressed artist Sasha Gordon in a custom gown that referenced stained-glass windows and Renaissance paintings. Despite this acclaim, Velez has been open about the financial hardships of starting a fashion company, recently sharing her $370 bank balance with The New York Times. In an effort to be transparent about the amount of equity needed to launch a brand, Velez also revealed that her line is somewhat of an experiment in creating with minimal capital.




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The unmistakable KNWLS vibe is embodied by Julia Fox—the breakaway star known for her strong, unapologetic and authentic energy—who fronted the label’s fall/winter 2022/2023 campaign. Based in London, England, KNWLS was co-founded in 2017 by partners Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault (who grew up near Montreal) after they met while studying at Central Saint Martins. KNWLS is best known for reinventing the 1990s-revival trend, taking a fresh approach in which sensual strength trumps nostalgia. The brand, whose lingerie-inspired pieces have been spotted on viral fashionistas like the Kardashians and the Hadids, was shortlisted for the prestigious LVMH Prize in 2022. For their spring/summer 2023 collection, the duo turned their eye to the chestnut-suede Ugg boot, a hallmark of Y2K tabloid style. Reworking the iconic style, they manipulated the boot’s shape to reveal the fuzzy sheepskin lining while also incorporating hoop piercings into original Ugg boots. (The former was spotted on Dua Lipa.) “We just went and created the world for this new kind of digital woman, and each season is an exploration of that world,” Arsenault told Browns Fashion. “We never do a ‘theme.’ It’s much more emotional and about how we feel about the zeitgeist, which we then interpret in that little world.” And what a world it is.


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