While the fashion industry may still be dominated by male creative directors, women are taking the industry by storm with their innovation and creativity. From underwear, to athletic wear, female-identifying designers and businesspeople are pushing the fashion industry further than ever before. Sandy Liang, Chromat, Staud, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Faustine Steinmetz, and Pansy Co. are all emblematic of this inspiring force moving the industry forward; these six brands, all founded and run by women, are at the forefront of not only creative design, but also intersectional representation and sustainability. Their collections are artistically and socially ambitious, bringing ingenuity to the fashion industry.
By the time Sandy Liang graduated from Parsons and launched her own brand in 2015, her signature vision was already a hit. Based in New York’s Lower East Side (LES), her designs embody the lifestyle of a 'modern woman.' Liang's collections are incredibly practical, yet maintain a dramatic flair that eschews the more lacklustre qualities often associated with functionality. Through her editorial shoots, which pair airy, pastel lace dresses with jeans and sneakers, Liang offers an introspection on life in LES, which is equally artistic and entrepreneurial. She draws inspiration from her surroundings, and even uses her grandmother as a model, adding to the personality of her designs and campaigns. In 2017, Liang gained further recognition as a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist, which gave commendation for both her skills as a designer and her business initiative.
Chromat is not your average high-fashion brand. Founded in 2010 by Becca McCharen-Tran, the label specializes in swim and athletic wear with an architectural focus, influenced by McCharen-Tran’s background in architecture. Chromat identifies its goal as empowering women, while exploring the intersection between architecture, fashion, and technology. The brand is perhaps most notable for its embrace of plus-sized and transgender models, as well as models of colour. Chromat shows a true commitment to creating garments for all women, a rarity in the fashion industry. Its linear and structural pieces are entirely singular in their design, bringing athletic wear into a new age of innovation and style.
Staud’s collection is the epitome of the cool girl wardrobe. Since 2015, founder Sarah Staudinger has developed collections that bridge the gap between youth and elegance. Staud defines itself as “a line of modern classics”, and it truly lives up to its definition. Staudinger has managed to perfectly pair minimalist, sleek silhouettes with plush fabrics and embellished details that make Staud’s collections as fun as they are chic. Marketed through the pieces’ vintage allure, it is no wonder that Staud has become an essential part of every “it-girl’s” wardrobe.
Maryam Nassir Zadeh
Maryam Nassir Zadeh combines the best of both curation and design with her self-titled brand. Founded in 2008, Maryam Nassir Zadeh originated as a marketplace for unique brands to sell their pieces on a highly editorialized platform. For four years, Nassir Zadeh focused on styling and the curatorial aspects of her store before returning to design in 2012 (she formerly studied textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design). Her own label draws heavy inspiration from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. While in past season’s she displayed collections with a heavier minimalist base, Nassir Zadeh’s spring 2018 collection shows a different side of contemporary New York fashion: one that is effortlessly nonchalant and a lively, refreshing blend of vintage and modern.
Faustine Steinmetz is fast becoming one of high fashion’s greatest mavericks. The real essence of Steinmetz’s garments is in their prodution - each piece is handcrafted from start to finish. For her latest collection, Steinmetz used 50% recycled denim, deconstructing it, then re-weaving and dyeing it by hand, creating one-of a kind pieces. The delicate handiwork of Steinmetz’s collection gives it an ethereal quality that completely alters the nature of denim itself, transforming it into something almost unrecognizable. Earlier this year, Steinmetz was awarded the 2017 Swarovski Collective Award, giving her year-long access to Swarovski crystals, allowing her to create even more innovative and spectacular pieces. Steinmetz’s detailed process and unparalleled designs place her at the foreground of modern fashion’s avant-garde.
Born from a daydream, Pansy Co. takes ethical production to the next level. Laura Schoorl and Rachel Corry cultivated the premise of Pansy Co based on a desire for undergarments that were sustainable, comfortable, and, as they put it, dreamy. This fantasy led to the debut of Pansy Co.’s first domestically sourced, locally sewn, underwear collection in 2013. Like Chromat, Pansy Co. focuses on creating products for all women, regardless of size, and their stunning editorials are a testimony to this concentration. Through its highly aestheticized campaigns, Pansy Co. has committed to representing plus-sized women, women of color, and queer women as both artists and models.