12 Chic Independent Designers to Support Now and Always

12 Chic Independent Designers to Support Now and Always


(Image credit: Santos by Mónica)

While it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day of scrolling on Instagram through countless promoted ads from designer brands or established corporate monoliths, nothing shakes me up quite like stumbling upon an exciting independent brand on my Explore page. Sure, my screen time may frighten a Victorian-era child, but it’s undeniable that in the world of social-first fashion, I’ve been exposed to countless international and local independent designers that have begun to take over my mind (and, most notably, my closet).

On the tails of Small Business Week, I did a deep dive of all the can’t-miss independent labels you need to know that are changing the industry, one design at a time. Offering everything from aura-inspired artisan hats to small-batch Ukrainian shoes made amid a global war, these 12 brands and independent designers deserve to be on your radar, now and forevermore.

Lookie Atelier

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(Image credit: Lookie Atelier)

Hailing from Ukraine, this small-batch, made-to-order footwear company has slowly (but surely!) taken over my closet. Specializing in artisanal leathers and ultra-trendy yet wearable mesh shoes, Lookie Atelier has become one of my favorite, go-to brands for jaw-dropping flats, sandals, and heels that I know will get me dozens of compliments.

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Little Liffner

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(Image credit: Little Liffner)

Based out of Stockholm, Sweden, Little Liffner is a playful Scandinavian accessory brand known for its impeccable handbags, pouches, and totes. Although I’m partial to the ultra-luxurious suede offerings the brand sells, Little Liffner is also known for its quality leather and fun yet wearable colors. Thoughtful details like special hardware make these purses hard to miss when you see them out in public—a telltale sign of cult-like status.

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Ragbag Studio

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I first stumbled across Ragbag Studio’s jewelry after spotting the same pair of swoon-worthy earrings on several editors during New York Fashion Week, and I’ll admit my life has changed for the better. This Copenhagen-based jewelry house is known for its modern takes on classic silhouettes like drop earrings, pendants, and tennis necklaces while incorporating sculptural, architectural designs and shapes. Plus, it lies on the demi-fine side, meaning you’re not spending thousands of dollars on a singular piece of jewelry and instead can build out your Ragbag collection for the years to come.

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Mains de Vapeur

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Meet Mains de Vapeur, my new favorite obsession. This New York–based small-batch hat brand relies on a history of Mexican artisanal craftsmanship. Designer Mariela Alexandra explains every piece is handcrafted to detail and custom to each client from start to finish, starting with a dedicated “hat reading,” where the Monterrey-born Alexandra sketches a unique design and palette based on a client’s aura. Frankly, it doesn’t get chicer than that.

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Nia Thomas

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Beloved by industry insiders and cool girls alike, fashion darling Nia Thomas has been heralded as one of the best emerging designers of the last few years. Based in Mexico City, Thomas’s practice focuses on handcrafted, woven resortwear-like dresses, shorts, and swimwear that capture the spirit of vacation. While we’ve loved Thomas’s work since the beginning here at Who What Wear, the world has begun to take notice, with giant retailers like Shopbop and Moda Operandi now carrying the label.