Forget Fashion Week – The Coolest Brands Are Now Outside London

Photos courtesy of S.Joon, Roop, Olivia Rose The Label, Phaedra Clothing, Emma Brewin & Ottowin Shop.
London has always been at the centre of the global style landscape — a vibrant destination which funnels burgeoning talent and extraordinary design into the industry at large, pumping inspiration and innovation through the veins of its international body. It's the home of some of the best street style on the Fashion Week cycle and trends that come to dominate globally.
This is where, in recent years, names like Molly Goddard, Grace Wales Bonner and Martine Rose were uttered with bated breath long before they appeared in the pages of top glossies; where a once-bustling high street culture dictated how and where people spent their time and money. Now, post-lockdown, with many consumers still transported from the streets to their screens, the potential for design discovery has expanded; resulting in a greater desire to shop and support smaller businesses
Enter: a covetable roster of indie brands from Leeds to Manchester to Exeter and beyond — all of which can be accessed any time, anywhere, in a matter of clicks. As the British-style scene becomes decentralised, it’s also slowing down, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. An increase in sustainable shopping habits points to a post-pandemic retail model driven not by product but by purpose and small brands, whose nimble business models are environmentally conscious by nature, are well positioned to adapt. 
For Emma Brewin, whose signature faux fur hat has been included in the pages of Vogue on the head of Gigi Hadid, the goal isn’t just to start small, it’s to stay small. "I always want to keep the business small enough to operate in a way that is sustainable and kinder to the planet," she says. This vision is what unites so many of the regional brands attracting nationwide customers like digital magnets. Plus, the lower rents and cost of living supported by the ability to reach larger audiences online allows for more physical and mental space to create.
"Finding a studio with low rent has been a major blessing to my business, allowing me to start small and not rack up any debt. It's given me the space and time to be creative, and not to take such huge leaps right from the outset," says Deva O’Neill, founder of the made-to-order clothing brand Phaedra. "Selling online has also been a major factor in my freedom – I can sew from anywhere and still be part of the slow fashion community. I have a lot to thank Instagram for!" 
London will always be synonymous with boundary-breaking style but the industry’s pandemic-induced change of pace offers a glimpse of what fashion could be: a world in which creativity and community thrive beyond city limits without putting the planet at risk. Ahead, discover seven independent brands which are a gateway to this new and friendly frontier.

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