Even with iconic figures such as Coco Chanel and Victoria Beckham flying the flag for feminism, the fashion industry has notoriously been male-dominated; until now, that is. Fearless females across the globe are fighting to make their voices heard, and it seems apt that they should be doing so through an industry that prides itself on predicting future trends.
We’ve selected six female-owned fashion labels showing serious girl power - so shop them, gift them, tell your friends about them, and show your support for a future based on equality and empowerment…
LemLem is the creation of supermodel and maternal health advocate Liya Kebede who founded the company after a trip to her native Ethiopa, where she encountered a group of weavers who no longer had a market for their skills. Wishing to preserve this traditional craft and break the workers’ cycle of the poverty, Liya set up LemLem, which means “to bloom” in the Ethiopian language of Amharic. The result was a beautifully artisan collection of womenswear which steadily grew to incorporate mens- and kidswear designs as well as an accessories collaboration with Parisian designer Pierre Hardy. 5% of the brand’s direct sales are donated to the LemLem Foundation, established with the aim of helping women artisans in Africa by connecting them with healthcare, education and job opportunities.
Take two former Vogue editors and the head of business development at one of the coolest American fashion labels and what do you get? A girl power trio that has not only earned its style stripes but knows them too. Founded in 2016 by Valerie Macaulay, Meredith Melling and rag & bone’s, Molly Howard, La Ligne, which literally means “line” in French, aimed to translate the classic stripe into a collection of versatile yet timeless pieces for the modern woman. Since then, the brand has grown from strength to strength, releasing a comprehensive range incorporating outerwear and accessories, while still keeping the humble stripe at the core of everything they do.
After searching fruitlessly for a handbag that was both beautifully made and suited to her lifestyle and budget, Grace Gordon launched her own collection of handmade bags in 2013, utilising vegetable tanned leather to make effortlessly chic forms that were an instant hit. Building on a former career in high street retail, Grace’s keen eye for trends and knowledge of what women want from their handbag in terms of simplicity and functionality have earned her a host of loyal followers and features in Stylist, Grazia and Elle Magazine to name a few. Based in Lewes, Sussex, Grace has now established her brand to encompass a range of in-vogue woven baskets alongside her leather designs, together with a growing selection of home accessories.
Apalma is a self-proclaimed “print-driven” womenswear label established in 2016 by Colombian-born textile designer Daniela Jordan-Villaveces. Since its inception, Apalma has released three collections, each arriving in a stunning display of pattern that exhibitions everything from dazzling geometrics to retro florals, imagined in a charmingly unique colour palette that just works. The designs, which include loose buttoned shirts, wrap-dresses and cropped trousers, have a relaxed vintage feel, while materials such as silk twill allow the pieces to be worn seamlessly from day to night. Founder Daniela is proud to maintain high ethical and environmental standards, working with small and mostly family-operated businesses and ensuring all garments are made in either Columbia or New York, where she is now based.
Koru founder, CEO, and designer Julie Stine is not only an inspiration to women in fashion, but to all designers wanting to employ more responsible methods in their manufacturing. Inspired by her Kiwi heritage and love of the outdoors, Julie established her eco-friendly swimwear and apparel brand with the aim of providing environmentally-conscious women with fashionable yet functional pieces which don’t break the bank. The brand’s swimwear fabric is derived from 100% regenerated polyamide, some of which comes from discarded fishing nets, but their environmental consciousness extends to everything they do – from using recycled paper hangtags to compostable packaging made from plant materials. Together with Managing Partner Rosie Mueller, Julie is leading the way in sustainable design and helping to secure a future for fashion as well as the environment.
Credited with bringing the slider back onto our style radar, footwear label Brother Vellies is another female-led initiative championing slow design. Set up by Brooklyn-based Aurora James - whose praises have been sung by virtually every fashion magazine you can think of - the brand works with local artisans throughout Africa to create a selection of handmade shoes and accessories that reflect the rich culture of their makers. Keeping craftspeople at the forefront of everything they do, Brother Vellies forms close relationships with local farmers and artisans to ensure only sustainable materials are used and fair wages paid. Through this, Aurora has received considerable recognition for her work, appearing on the cover of FN’s Women in Power issue as well as becoming the first black female nominated for the CFDA Emerging Talent Award in 2018.