This Site Stocks Indie Designers That Aren't All Over Your Instagram Feed (Yet)

We're always on the prowl for cool new designers that all of our friends, street style favorites, or social media follows aren't already clued into (and decked out in) already. Enter Plan de Ville, a sleekly-designed online destination founded in 2014 devoted to emerging designers, many of whom are only in their first or second seasons.

Prior to launching Plan de Ville, founder and CEO Catherine Smith was a stylist and online fashion writer covering the intersection of ready-to-wear and bridal fashion at Brides; she also did a master's degree in Fashion Studies from Parsons, focused on the psychology of the luxury consumer and high fashion’s interaction with the mind. She's now applying those insights, minus the wedding dress-chronicling aspect, to an e-comm experience that's focused squarely on fresh discoveries and championing up-and-coming contemporary names soon to crop up on a bevy of red carpets, social media tags, and, maybe, in your closet. (Granted, yes, these labels probably do fall into splurge territory.)

Below, Smith fills us in on how she sources cool indie brands, and even match-makes them with other, much larger retailers. Click through to find out the eight brands that likely aren't in your closet yet.

What prompted you to launch the site?
"I decided to launch Plan de Ville because Instagram created a tremendous amount of access both for consumers and for designers to reach each other – yet no singular online shopping destination existed with the sole purpose of stocking luxury brands in their early seasons. From its inception, Instagram has allowed designers to go to market and set the rules of engagement – from how much inventory they produce, to how they choose to sell and price their lines. It has really changed the game of launching a label, and Plan de Ville was created to solve the problem of providing a high-end customer service experience on behalf of the emerging brands that have inspired a new coterie of excited consumers."

Tell us about your sourcing strategies!
"They range from Instagram discoveries to stopping a woman on the street carrying a great bag that I can’t place, to my favorite, trade shows. I also love paying attention to when celebrities occasionally wear an emerging brand; I’ll reach out to the stylist to learn more about the label.

"I've found some of our strongest-performing labels at trade shows, like Tosia and Voz. It's also a tremendous honor when brands reach out to invite me to see their line. For the first year or so, I pitched PDV to 99% of the designers we picked up. Once we gained some traction, that dynamic really started to shift and I found my inbox suddenly full of incredible look books and personal notes from designers I could only dream of working with previously."

How have you connected emerging talents with bigger retailers and served as a consultant of sorts?
"When it makes sense, Plan de Ville partners with brands to offer help with prodct development and distribution strategy in the U.S. My dear friend Lilian Afshar is the first designer I partnered with on this initiative, and we now handle the distribution of her line of architectural marble box clutches in the States. In the past year, we were able to do three trunk shows on Moda Operandi, a pop up at Bergdorf Goodman, and we just opened her distribution to one of the most prestigious specialty boutiques in the U.S. for next season. We are not a showroom, but because I gather early sales data and have insight into best-selling styles by testing the product in the e-commerce marketplace, we are in a position to offer brand intelligence to other retailers."

What portion of designers are from outside of the U.S.?
"Almost half of the brands on Plan de Ville are from abroad, and it's so important to me to reflect the diversity of talent around the world. Plan de Ville carries brands from the Middle East, England, South Korea, Ukraine, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Our buys are always very tightly focused, and things sell out quickly, though I do prioritize offering unique brands that are under-represented in the States. Instagram has increased the ability for designers and consumers to interact directly, but there are still significant barriers to creating a seamless shopping experience across borders. We have navigated the importing business carefully."

What's significant about being a designer's first stockist?
"It's an honor; for a designer, especially in the digital age, distribution strategy is paramount. So a brand’s choice to be sold on Plan de Ville for their first or second season is a major decision that can potentially impact which other retailers will be interested in the line. I hope, and our track record has shown, that this impact is positive."


Discovery Factor: "Striking shapes, excellent craftsmanship and amazing price point. The shapes are fresh, functional, and feature just the right amount of whimsy. Vasic is the next Mansur Gavriel. I look forward to watching the brand grow season-by-season as their awareness expands to a wider audience of women who desire a chic, functional, affordable handbag."

Surprising tidbit: "Designer Kanoko Mizuo is multi-talented – she is also the force behind Land by Land candles!"

Similar designers: Mansur Gavriel, Simon Miller

Vasic Camel Mini Market Tote in Camel, $395, available at Plan de Ville.
Natasha Schweitzer

Discovery Factor: I love statement earrings, and when I saw Natasha’s sophisticated shapes I was immediately smitten. They are a bit of an investment, but the price points are sharp and the designs are avant-garde yet timeless. Once the brand’s profile grows stateside, expect to see their lightweight statement jewelry everywhere."

Surprising tidbit: The line is designed by a team of sisters who are the daughters of one of Australia’s first female jewelers, Marion Schweitzer.

Similar designers: Charlotte Chesnais, Ellery, Balenciaga

Natasha Schweitzer Octagon Earrings, $370, available at Plan de Ville.
Atea Oceanie

Discovery Factor: "I saw a photo of Selena Gomez in a silver Atea Oceanie slip dress that left me quite impressed. It was the first really adult look I had noticed on the star, and Selena epitomized the whole idea that 'a dress shouldn’t wear a woman, a woman should wear a dress,' in this slip dress that seemed to suit her shape perfectly. I hunted down the brand name from the stylist and immediately called Atea Oceanie’s sales showroom."

Surprising tidbit: "The brand has a minimal feel, but Leandra Medine has already designed a capsule collaboration with the brand."

Similar designers: Calvin Klein, Derek Lam

Atea Oceanie V-Neck Slip Dress, $525. available at Plan de Ville.
Marion Parke

Discovery Factor: "I noticed the high level of design sensibility in Marion Parke’s shoes, but I also noticed that the insole had a unique shape. That's because the designer is a podiatric surgeon who has created her own unique patented design that evenly distributes the weight of the wearer throughout the foot, rather than relegating all weight to the ball of the foot as traditional heels have done for centuries. I can see Marion Parke going to the big leagues – once women become familiar with the concept and try them on, the sky is the limit!"

Surprising tidbit:"Other than the fact that the shoes are designed with science in mind, the shoes are also often very versatile; for example, the Lane Sandal comes with two interchangeable ankle straps. "

Similar designer: Jimmy Choo

Marion Park The Lane Sandal in Smoke, $650, available at Plan de Ville.

Discovery Factor: "We brought Daniella Kallmeyer’s handbags onto the site for fall 2016, and we just expanded into offering her elegant, advanced contemporary ready-to-wear as of spring 2017."

Surprising tidbit: "The price point; Kallmeyer’s aesthetic is extremely elevated, but the prices are fantastic. She offers customers tremendous value by focusing on silhouettes that are easy to wear, yet dress your look up from day to night. I continue to turn to the Navy Knit Mock Neck Dress whenever I’m in doubt about what to wear."

Similar designers: Derek Lam, Rachel Comey, Toteme

Kallmeyer Capri Navy Carry-All Tote, $575, available at Plan de Ville.
Peggy Hartanto

Discovery Factor: "I saw a photo of Talulah Riley on Daily Mail and loved the neckline of her dress. Through some sleuthing, I found the brand on Instagram and contacted them for a market appointment for Fall/Winter 2016. I believe Peggy Hartanto has the aesthetic and the price point to compete in the special occasion market – most of our customers are coming to Plan de Ville looking for special pieces they can purchase to wear to equally special events – think weddings, parties, graduations. Peggy Hartanto’s unique dress silhouettes allow women to confidently know they won’t fall prey to the perils of outfit twinning at their next summer party. "

Surprising tidbit: "The line is run by a team of sisters – I love their energy and commitment to working together as a family business."

Similar designers: Roksanda, Johanna Ortiz

Peggy Hartanto Bow Shoulder White Sky Dress, $570, available at Plan de Ville.

Discovery Factor: "I’ll never forget – I was sitting in a taxi on the FDR in New York City and scrolling through Instagram when I saw Lilian Afshar’s birthstone clutches, one of her earliest collections. I emailed her sales agent in the Middle East through a contact link in her Instagram bio and ordered three colorways for the launch of Plan de Ville sight-unseen. L’Afshar is on a roll: With two new major stockists in the U.S. for Fall/Winter 2017, the brand is poised to take off stateside by 2018."

Surprising tidbit: "The brand is handcrafted in Dubai by a factory that had never produced handbags before. The manufacturing facility had previously only done large scale design projects, predominantly for interiors. However, their fresh perspective on accessories is exactly what makes the brand so covetable – L’Afshar bags are design objects just as much as they are functional clutches."

Similar designers: M2Malettier, Boyy, Maryam Nassir Zadeh

L'Afshar Pink Quartz Marble Clutch, $850, available at Plan de Ville.

Discovery Factor: "I was at the Capsule tradeshow after hours a couple years ago when I noticed a rack of beautiful garments, including a cloud-blue off-the-shoulder dress. Luckily for me, the designer left a few business cards on the table next to her rack. I emailed her and the rest is history! I see major things for Tosia. I predict she will be on the sales floor of every major department store in the next 4 years."

Surprising tidbit: "Tosia designer Sara Hankin used to design for J. Crew and Ralph Lauren, so I am consistenly pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of her fit. Particularly her jumpsuits and dresses, which are designed to fit a wide variety of body types – a selling point for an online retailer, and for me as a stylist committed to dressing women in pieces that make them feel a sense of effortless confidence.

Similar designers: Tome, Philip Lim

Tosia Gaia Dress, $645, available at Plan de Ville.
Load more...