Whilst this blog has done its itsy bitsy teeny weeny bit to support the many MANY young designers and graduates that have comes up over the last decade, Not Just a Label has taken what is essentially the simple act of spotlighting young designer talent to new levels.  It’s a showcasing platform, a directory, an editorial site, an e-commerce site, jobs board and an all round invaluable resource for young designers and anybody out there interested in pure raw creativity.

Their website has just had a massive facelift and specifically I wanted to hone in on the e-commerce part, which NJAL have had in place since 2009 but it hasn’t been the main component of their site until now.  In yesterday’s post about my visit to Vestiare Collective HQ, I only gently mentioned the BBC2 This World Rana Plaza documentary.  I forgot to say that I watched it twice and I cried uncontrollably each time and found it extra pertinent when the young female survivors from the collapse of the factory were contrasted with young female YouTube haulers showing off their latest Primark/Forever 21 purchases.

After a long Twitter conversation with one of the YouTube video bloggers filmed in the documentary, it seems that what the majority of the public really need are choices and alternatives – eco, hybrid, vintage, past-designer – they’re sources that are worth considering, at the very least in tandem with whatever you buy on the high street to alleviate the quantity bought at that end of the scale.  If we’ve established that price alternatives to the likes of Primark don’t really exist then it’s about establishing a slower fashion cycle.  Therefore as a a neat follow up to my visit to Vestiare Collective, where the resale cycle of clothing prolongs their life and bags you a better quality designer bargain in the process, NJAL’s relaunch reminded me about what Orsola de Castro said when I interviewed her – that making purchases from young and independent designers where the chain of production is more often than not short and traceable and where you can have direct dialogue with said designer is definitely a positive step towards side-stepping unsound labour practises.  More often than not, young designers are already working with “sustainable” methods just by the small nature of their business, without calling themselves a sustainable designer.

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First thing I noticed when browsing NJAL’s online site was Katie Jones’ brilliantly upcycled knitwear available for sale.  NJAL’s USP is that they’re not buying stock from designers.  They’re a conduit to enable designer to connect with consumer directly (they take 30% of all sales with prices set by the designer) and in the case of Katie, where for instance sizing might be irregular because of the way she uses second hand aran jumpers to upcycle, the dialogue begins as soon as you make your purchase.  It’s Etsy thinking applied to progressive fashion design and for NJAL, marries well with the way they foster independent design.

ktgKatie Jones aran knit dress £830

NJAL isn’t for your fairweather fashion consumer though.  Not all designers necessarily offer a range of sizes and with varying lookbooks uploaded as images on product listings and limited search facility, this is for more of a hardcore fashion-head who is bothered to comb through NJAL to find hidden gems.  Combing.  Hidden gems.  Two of my favourite things.  As with most clicks on NJAL, I normally learn a few new names.  The London-based This is The Uniform being one of them.  They do lovely things that are sheer, shiny, with poppers and based around the humble trackie suit.  Fancy mooching-around clothes basically.

thisistheuniform0This is the Uniform silk satin popper top £320 and popper trousers £485

thisistheuniform1This is the Uniform 5-way hipster skirt £575

I apparently clocked in the first purchase on NJAL’s new site this morning when I fell in love with this “wave” sweater and matching skirt by Indian label Morphe, designed by Shenali Sema.  With India’s know-how and proximity to brilliant textiles and embellishment, I fully expect more designers to emerge from this country and with this purchase of the  one and only Indian designer in my wardrobe, I clock in a first of my own.  Each piece is made to order and it will take three weeks (it states whether a product is immediately available or not on each listing) but it looks worth the wait!

morphe1Morphe wave sweater £154 and wave skirt £168

morphe2Morphe crop top £134 and matching skirt £168

I’m also mighty tempted by these voluminous pieces by London and Bulgaria based label Evgenia Popova.

evegnias1Evgenia Popova shirt dress £354

evegnias2Evgenia Popova blouse £281 and trousers £173

As the unrest in Ukraine rumbles on, it feels even more heartening to see Ukrainian fashion designers making strides.  I spotted a trio of them on NJAL’s e-commerce alone and the wave seems to be growing thanks to the higher profile of Kiev Fashion Days.  Tvortz, Yulia Yefimtchuk and Lake all have varying takes on maximal/minimalism elevating codes of sportswear and casualwear in their own ways.

tvortzTvortz knitted crop top £75 and cropped trousers £199

lakeLake pink coat £700

yuliayYulia Yefimtchuk tri-colour top £107 and matching trousers £124

The one thing I would say about NJAL is that every designer’s profile page doesn’t necessarily provide the whole picture.  Not every young and emerging designer is on the same level as one another and as NJAL doesn’t link out to designers’ external websites, you often have to do extra bit of research to get a better idea of who the designer is.  The e-commerce store is offering a lot of stock by Korean designer Cres E. Dim and it turns out the brand is well established with a mainline and a diffusion line.  Nothing wrong with that of course but it goes some way to explaining the relative affordability of the pieces and why they have such a larger range of product on sale.

cresedim0Dim E Cres black pleated skirt £75

Great to see a new Hong Kong designer face pop up and I love the dip dye colours of this Wai by Lamkayan outfit.

wailamkayanWai by Lamkayan iridescent top £180 and trousers £180

Japanese but Florence based Yojiro Kake also caught my eye with his interesting approach towards textiles.

yojirokYojiro Kake frontier dress £680

The easiest thing to buy into on NJAL are the accessories and jewellery of which there is an abundance of.  I love the lookbook styling and utilitarian feel of these Matter Matters bags (originated in the UK, but now based in Hong Kong) but like I said, when you click away from NJAL, you’ll find that Matter Matters actually has a far more comprehensive selection on their own Big Cartel website.  In this way, I would liken NJAL’s young designer aggregator to Clippings.com – my interiors shopping site of choice where you find all kinds of independent designers but if you want more product or larger ranges, you have to go beyond the site to the individual designer’s own websites.

matter1Matter Matters pythagorus bag £322

matter2Matter Matters bucket bag £398

Always great to see Sarah Williams aka Williams Handmade products actually out there for sale but if I had the dosh, I’d definitely go for a complete bespoke commission from Williams… say a custom-made clothing trunk?

williamshandmadeWilliams Handmade Gwen bag £960 and Vera bag £735

 

These cut wooden clutches by Tesler and Mendelovitch from Israel are another example of meticulous handcraft featuring heavily amongst young accessories designers.

teslerTesler and Mendelovitch ebony clutch £460 and African walnut clutch £440

Innovative materials seemed to pop up frequently when looking at the footwear offering too.  Cork sandals with treads from Spanish brand 5AM, tuna fish skin shoes made ethically in Sri Lanka by Swedish waste-conscious label Khogy and boiled wool soft shoes made in Latvia by Woolings that are water repellant.

shoes5AM cork sandals £185, Khogy garden shoes £200, Woolings boots £200

As somebody who enjoys a thorough hunt and the process of discovery, NJAL’s new site definitely offers that.  Search through the whole site and you will find yourself incredibly interesting designs at mostly contemporary price points (that middling category below designer).  With NJAL adding over 100 products every week, even if you’re not a natural online hunter, it’s definitely worth a check back every now and again, with the extra side bonus of learning about young designer fledglings.

Comments (33)

  1. Paulina says:

    As a jewelry and accessories designer that constantly utilizes re-used clothes to create new pieces I can tell you that it is not only sustainable to do this, but also lowers designer production costs and increases profit margings. It may sound like a good idea to produce in countries like India and China, but the human and environmental costs are too high. I am convinced that motivating young designers to use re-used / recycled materials and supporting their entry to fashion supply chains will make the fashion industry more sustainable and profitable. My store: http://eng.paar.mx/

  2. I’m so glad I discovered Style Bubble! Your work is so informative and a pleasure to read! Thank you for all you do, it is helping me make decisions about how to grow my ebay business.

  3. Imcha says:

    Hi Susie, Designer of Morphe is Shenali Sema. Instagram @shenalisema

    • stylebubble says:

      Corrected – not sure why NJAL didn’t specify designer’s name on the profile page and why Google came up with a different name. Think there happens to be two Indian labels called Morphe designed by two different people.

  4. perfect, I love the way this embody minimalism, artistic, boho and funk all in one.

    http://thinkworkandgo.blogspot.com/

  5. Imcha says:

    Fashion Graduate of Central Saint Martins 2011, Textile design graduate of National Institute of Design

  6. Imcha says:

    Hi Susie, it’s the same label. New Creative team headed by Shenali Sema 2011- present.

  7. Anuk says:

    Hello Suzie,
    This is a really informative post thank you. As a designer (who shows work on NJAL but doesn’t as of yet sell on there,) I’m often aware how the site can be quite intimidating and even confusing for many but the hard core fashion seekers. Thanks for giving a bit more insight into NJAL’s back room workings and hopefully making the site more accessible to many… Anuk

  8. The clutches are fantastic!

  9. Egle says:

    What a great article! You so right, the importance of the change to ever happen ref. to sustainable longevity of garments, statistics showed that human mind set is changing. That is a good start.
    Thanks for all the research hope to meet you one day and would love you to see collections.. E

  10. Ketty says:

    i love the stuff specially Evgenia Popova blouse, face pop up and wave skirt. Love the color of designer face pop up.

    Cheap Brazilian Body Wave Hair

  11. Yaya Moo says:

    As a newbie stylist, NJAL is the place to be when I am looking for young designers to work with. Thank you very much for bringing up the e-commerce aspect of the site. However, most products are still very pricy for young people to afford. But your mentioning and support to young designers are definitely lovely ! Cheers, Bubble !

  12. Veena says:

    Thanks for this post Susie, NJAL sounds like a wonderful platform for a lot of emerging talents, but most importantly, it can encourage consumers to purchase from ethical designers and startup businesses.

    ♡ veena | seveninchstilettos.com
    twitter/instagram: @veenamccoole

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