The chill in the air brings the thrill of a new season, and plenty of questions about what to wear. The answer is simple: something by this crop of fashion-insider-favourite brands. Offering all the on-trend fabrics, chunky knits and party dresses you crave, these are our brands to know – shopping lists at the ready.
Dress, £85, Kitri
‘Premium product, premium services, not-so-premium prices,’ is what founder Haeni Kim sought to offer with new contemporary fashion brand Kitri. Since launching in March, she’s nailed it, thanks to a combination of just-trendy-enough pieces, quirky details (note the ruched sleeves that make a green sweatshirt a teeny bit dressy) and sweet-spot pricing. ‘We put a lot of thought into making each of our garments as versatile as possible,’ Kim says – and it shows. Though Kitri remains committed to its online business, its pop-up shop in London’s Marylebone has been more successful than anyone predicted since doors opened last month. It’s on until 29 October, so get down there to see what all the fuss is about (and yes, the bi-colour marble side tables by Campbell-Rey are for sale, too). 35 Thayer Street, London W1
No, it’s not Isabel Marant. But it is French. One of the lesser-known Parisian exports, Sessùn has hit its stride this season with a collection rich in texture (corduroy, shearling and embroidery), sweet printed dresses and made-you-look staples (leather-trimmed denim culottes, we’re looking at you). The most surprising point of all is that Sessùn has been going for more than 20 years. Buy into its haute-bohemian aesthetic before everyone else does.
The latest retail innovation from Sweden’s H&M group is Arket, a thoughtful marketplace of fashion, food and homeware. The Regent Street flagship is a surprisingly serene multi-level space, but where the brand’s attention to detail really comes to the fore is on its website. There you’ll find everything from briefs on the history of any given garment (‘The trench coat was the result of the latest technical development and textile innovation when it was introduced in the late 1800s,’ one blurb begins) to supplier details and fabric information. Your wardrobe will thank you for the deep dive.
Your favourite bucket bag now has some new friends, thanks to Mansur Gavriel’s first ready-to-wear collection, which launched at New York Fashion Week. Yes, there’s a smattering of millennial pink – it wouldn’t be MG without one of the colours Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel built their brand on – but there’s plenty more to love. Particularly when it comes to coats (this tomato-red number has pride of place on several of the Stella team’s wish lists). ‘I love the feeling of wearing something that feels great on the skin, which has a nice volume and you feel cosy in,’ Floriana told us. Can’t argue with that.
Lily and Lionel
Dress, £200, lilyandlionel.com
Sometimes the only thing you want to wear is a beautiful dress. For those days, there’s Lily and Lionel. The brand began with silk scarves and has grown to include pyjamas, swimwear and those crucial, day-saving dresses. The floaty, long-sleeved pieces in founder Alice Stone’s leopard and celestial prints will fill a wardrobe niche for seasons to come. Alice attributes the brand’s appeal to its ‘eclectic, British, polished-bohemian vibe… The Lily and Lionel woman wears the print, the print doesn’t wear her.’ We think it’s all about the twirling potential in those girlie gowns.
Long jumper, £189, and skirt, £199, essentiel-antwerp.com
Despite 18 years in business, 42 stores worldwide and stockists including Harvey Nichols and Asos, Essentiel remains something of a fashion insider’s secret. This could be the season that changes. Lighthearted prints and uplifting colour combinations make it a good bet for mood-changing fashion. As founder and creative director Inge Onsea says, ‘We want to dress emotions and not take fashion or ourselves too seriously.’ Look for mushroom-printed dresses, florals and oversized jumpers among its greatest hits for autumn.
This east London brand offers upscale-looking (and feeling) shoes at an accessible price point. Each collection is a mash-up of touchstones from founder Laura Villasenin’s upbringing in Spain and her current east London life. Look out for lace-up ankle boots, embroidered mules and mid-height heels.
Wrap dress and printed dress, both £99; houseoffraser.co.uk
For a few years, the only name worth knowing for slinky silk-jersey dresses – as good for Ibiza cocktail parties as for royal engagements – was Issa London. The brand shuttered in 2015, but this season House of Fraser has given it a relaunch. The jewel tones, fluid fabrics and party-ready swish are all still there, with extra oomph from new prints and accessories. If you still rue your failure to stock up on that essential v-neck wrap dress, this is the reboot for you.