LONDON — Wesley Harriott, PushButton and Clio Peppiatt may be new additions to the London Fashion Week schedule, but they’re no strangers to their growing Instagram fan bases and celebrities such as Dua Lipa, SZA, Adwoa Aboah and K-pop superstar CL. As they prepare for their first on-schedule shows, these labels have also been building up robust profiles — and sales — off the catwalk, and are part of an emerging generation of designers that’s not waiting around, hoping to be discovered and promoted by a fashion editor or retailer.
For Wesley Harriott designer Ricky Harriott, dressing CL got the ball rolling, “She’s my muse, so I made it a mission to chase her down and get in contact with her people,” he said. Harriott is a London College of Fashion graduate and winner of the Asos Fashion Discovery prize.
After dressing CL and amassing eyeballs online, Harriott came to the attention of stylists and press. Soon Lady Gaga and Kylie Jenner were asking for his signature bodysuits, ath-leisure crop tops and structured suits. Earlier this year, musician SZA tapped Harriott to create custom pieces for her tour in May.
Peppiatt has also made online noise. Her colorful and kitschy designs translate well over social media and as a direct-to-consumer brand, the label’s Instagram has proved a boon for business, generating a high rate of returning customers. “It’s funny because I didn’t have Instagram before I started the brand, but that’s how stylists have found me, through the platform’s power,” she said, explaining how she’s managed to dress Dua Lipa, Adwoa Aboah and design Charli XCX’s stage outfits.
South Korean fashion and streetwear label PushButton has a similar story to tell. Net-a-porter dubbed the brand “one of Seoul’s most exciting labels” and South Korean rapper Zico and Chinese singer Chris Lee have worn designer Seung-Gun Park’s designs on stage. While Park’s roots lie in music as a former K-pop star, he argues that his music career has remained entirely separate from the brand.
Despite the fact that PushButton is on the tips of many tongues, Park said he was nervous making a foray into the international market. One-legged pants are a key piece in his latest collection, and asymmetric designs reflect his feelings of instability.
“I wondered what I could bring to London on this new platform. I decided to go through PushButton’s archives and express my inspirations in a signature PushButton way but add new elements,” he said. “I’m afraid of becoming too complacent.”
Park’s previous collections have been heavy on print, but this time he chose to make use of a vivid color palette inspired by the Nineties bubble economy in Japan and South Korea. “It was all about shopping and showing off. Fashion was very extravagant and I find myself going back to that time and how we used to imagine the 21st century. This collection is my interpretation of the future from the past,” he noted.
PushButton’s signature oversize silhouettes have been spun into square, shoulder-padded blazers and coats, characteristically offset with ruched crop tops. Their “tab” design allows the wearer to transform the oversize shapes for a slimmer fit in a very natural way, and Park said he hopes to continue developing the idea of transformational clothes in future collections.
Park also worked on reinterpreting the brand’s houndstooth pattern, which can be found on matching suit sets and has introduced a new carrot print, a personal token of the designer. “I was born in the year of the rabbit and rabbits like carrots,” he said. PushButton’s pieces are stocked on Net-a-porter, Shopbop, Browns, LuisaViaRoma and on their own e-commerce site, which retail at around 450 pounds for pants and around 600 pounds for coats.
Harriott, who hails from the U.K., is using structure and shape to make a statement, too. “I was having a discussion about some of the things that women have to consider every day to be deemed socially acceptable, which I think is ridiculous, and from there I started to think about how a woman navigates making these decisions,” he said.
Tight tops with face mask extensions and structured blazers nipped at the waist are Harriott’s way of encapsulating the concept of a woman who is expected to be everything. “It’s the constant contradiction of strength whilst trying to please everyone at the same time,” he added.
To further highlight his concept, Harriott is introducing eveningwear. Standout pieces include a dramatic gown in Lurex jersey which, according to Harriott, looks like glass, leather minidresses and pinstripe jumpsuits will sit alongside his sportier pieces. Other pieces include bag attachments sewn into skirts and dresses. “This woman has no time to carry her bags,” he said.
Harriott’s collection is exclusive to Asos and pieces will range from 150 pounds for the ninja-style crop tops, 300 pounds for trousers and 700 pounds for blazers.
Since the conception of her label, Peppiatt has been designing for the modern woman. Taking a different approach from the other two labels, her pieces are fun, kitschy and feminine, subverting the notion of girliness as being weak.
“This is probably my favorite collection because I’ve been able to take a lot more time for each piece. There is embroidery and beading on everything,” said Peppiatt, who has been working with a new mill in the U.K. for custom weave jacquards.
Influenced by surrealist art, Peppiatt’s pieces have decorative elements such as scaled-up safety pins and flashy embroidery. There are also symbols and imagery inspired by John Waters’ film “Female Trouble” that clash with bright fuchsias, yellows and acidic greens.
Peppiatt said keeping traditional craft alive is important to her. “I’m worried that hand beading and hand embroidery is one of the skills that may die out if contemporary designers aren’t keeping them alive through their work.”
Because everything is hand-embellished, she also offers bespoke and made-to-measure dresses giving her clients the opportunity to be a part of the process.
“Our focus is really around the customer, we mostly sell direct-to-consumer online,” Peppiatt added. Her collection can also be found online at Youngbritishdesigners.com, in stores at Desperate LA in Los Angeles and 1991 Downtown in Tokyo with prices ranging from 95 pounds for T-shirts to 700 pounds for embroidered coats.