Featured Story By: Elizabeth Taylor

Prominent fashion guru Derek Warburton is one such individual—he has candidly been championing the movement for many years. It’s not just another token gesture or a trend on the runway that will fade with the change of seasons; this is the future of fashion.

Through compassionate ingenuity, this leading authority on style has managed to share once again a sincere way to champion the fiercely independent spirit of hot new designers who are breaking the mould and tearing down the old-fashioned walls. While the landmark ateliers of Chanel, Dior and Prada will always be respected and appreciated, the revolution of the trailblazing designer is pioneering a new path to prominent recognition.

Warburton’s support of the emerging designer arises from his understanding how one individual can have a significant impact. As an entrepreneur and spokesperson for FACE Stockholm, Warburton relates to independent artisans who are ready and willing to shine bright in the spotlight. Fast fashion is over and is a business model that reflects the days of a bygone era. Now is the time to champion the risk-takers and a new way of fashion-forward thinking.

Warburton most recently used his platform for his campaign that featured hot new designers from every corner of the planet. The rainbow tribe of inspirational artists is dynamically showcased with the ICON collection by Derek Fabulous, which successfully launched in spring 2023 with FACE Stockholm.

His latest spread demonstrates his loyalty to Charles & Ron, KYLE’LYK, Eiram, Papa Oppong Bediako, HASS IDRISS and Tri Collective. Witnessed first-hand in each divine photograph is a curated lookbook representing a thriving community of artisans with extraordinary creativity and craftsmanship.

Each visionary piece shines bright and illuminates deserving artists on an elevated platform. Some call it the synergy of the fashion gods, while others declare it to be sheer osmosis. Overall, the campaign captures the spirit of the pioneering artisan, who, like the ICON collection, promotes enlightenment, self-worth and confidence.

Papa Oppong Bediako

Papa Oppong Bediako is a fashion Illustrator, designer and New Age artist. Through his work, Bediako seeks to show the world that Africa is a goldmine of talent and potential and can be globally influential in fashion.

Reflecting on the importance of his work as an independent designer in Vogue Czechoslovakia, he states: “More than anything, I think it’s reaffirming to me that the American dream is still within reach. You know, coming from a small country and making my way to the USA and navigating a very tough industry can be quite challenging, but it is moments like this—when I see pieces made with blood, sweat and many, many tears on such a well-respected platform—that give me hope for what’s to come. Now more than ever, fashion has become very inclusive. I am grateful to have a voice at this moment in time and proud to be a designer of colour and to be able to tell relevant stories that invite dialogue and promote healthy conversations on womanhood, sexuality and artisanal craft.”

Recently, Bediako won the Graduate Prize at the inaugural Fashion Trust U.S. awards; it came with a $50,000 grant and mentorship with Google as well as other sponsors of the organization, including Farfetch.

Charles & Ron

Charles & Ron is a Malta-based house with designers and founders who are primarily self-taught and established C&R as Malta’s leading fashion brand.

“The early years were the most difficult, and until you find your path, it’s not easy,” they collectively state. “But you don’t always have to follow the conventional way; you can create your niche, and people will start noticing.”

They are pioneers in the Maltese fashion scene and the first brand to draw inspiration from Malta and its surroundings. Over the years, they opened three stores and a café in their home country between travels to other parts of the world to show their collections. Their biggest highlight so far has been being selected in 2018 to exhibit one of their couture designs at Buckingham Palace for the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange. Vogue’s Hamish Bowles curated the exhibition, and the night was a first at the palace. Guests at the event included Naomi Campbell and Anna Wintour, who complimented their design.

“The early years were the most difficult, and until you find your path, it’s not easy. But you don’t always have to follow the conventional way; you can create your niche, and people will start noticing.”

“For independent designers like us, it’s very important that stylists and magazines recognize our work and take an interest. In the current market, independent designers give newness to the industry, and the industry needs to embrace that.”


KYLE’LYK is a high-end casual-menswear brand based in New York. Its unique designs are inspired by ordinary things or things that are easy to pass by in everyday life. In collections such as American Dreamer and Healing Process, no detail is too small to be left out.

“Independent designers are now more focused on sustainability and ethical production methods,” says KYLE’LYK. “With increasing consumer awareness and concern about the fashion industry’s environmental impact, independent designers can help lead the way toward more sustainable and ethical practices. All our garments are handmade in New York City. Also, independent designers are an important and valuable part of the fashion industry. They bring diversity, innovation and sustainability to the market and can provide consumers with a unique and personal fashion experience.”


Eiram, founded by American designer Kourtney Hankins, provides innovative knitwear for the progressive woman who takes pride in her uniqueness. Each design embodies liberation and individuality without sacrificing the natural benefits of knitwear, such as comfort, easy maintenance and versatility.

Hankins takes great pride in the steps she has taken to create her work.

“Although I appreciate the hustle and grind required to make it in this industry and I believe that fashion is open to everyone, the work of independent designers is imperative in maintaining the integrity and authenticity of fashion design,” she says. “Fashion is increasingly being cheapened by capitalism and attention seekers, and there is a desperate need for the adeptness and passion that’s inherent to independent designers. It has not been easy, but the fight for success is worth it. This will sound clichéd, but I’ve remained true to who I am, stayed the course and practised consistency and persistence to overcome the obstacles. Being a designer is my calling—therefore, I have no choice but to stick it out. Consistently putting out your creations will eventually gain notice.”

Tri Collective

Tri Collective is a proud non-binary fashion house producing designs that are made in Los Angeles. “For us, recognition is so important because it helps us establish our brand and increases our visibility in a crowded marketplace where voices like ours are not often heard,” they say. “We are three Latino designers who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community—visibility and representation are extremely important to us. We want to use our work to showcase our cultures’ beauty while challenging societal gender norms and ensuring that we have a meaningful presence in the industry.”

“As a collective, we believe in the power of three—bringing together different perspectives to create something unique and impactful. This has allowed us to draw from each other’s strengths and create designs that represent our shared values,” the group states. “We all come from different backgrounds and have unique perspectives, and our commitment to inclusivity and our desire to make non-binary clothing accessible define our brand’s authenticity.”


Hass Idriss is based between Beirut and London, where he leads a creative army that tailors pieces that put the woman forward rather than the design itself.

“I take great pride in getting to know my clients, how they see themselves, how they want to be seen and how they move and hold themselves so I can create the perfect garment that complements all of that while keeping context in mind,” says the designer.

He combines old-school techniques with state-of-the-art technology and works only with the finest materials, and his clients can attest to his prodigy.

“Being an independent designer involves a balance of patience, faith and learning that goes far beyond the decade and a half of hard work that brought me here,” says the artist and entrepreneur. “It can be challenging to keep showing up when the numbers don’t always match the stamina and ambition that are inherent in what I do. Because this work is driven more by passion than financial gain, many brands don’t make it past 10 years in the market. It’s gratifying to be recognized for the relentless dedication that’s been so important to me.”

The philosophy of these independent designers and Warburton is the unifying spirit that makes fashion uniquely special and forever timeless. Their combined ethos is full of passion. Here’s to championing change makers, who will never go out of style.


Photographer: Josh Fogel
Assistant photographer: Christian Raices

Makeup: Garret Gervais

Hair: Jaroslava Rigova

Style director: Donn Akin

Assistant stylists: Robin Leiva and Keiki Tomoyose

Retoucher: Lidiia Berezhna


KO Media newsroom and editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content.