At this point, we all know someone who’s just launched their own brand. From New York to London to Paris to Los Angeles, one needn’t venture far to find young creatives on the come-up, eager for exposure and recognition, and forever on the prowl for that next celebrity plug. The use of Instagram and the ever-expanding digital landscape as a hub and tool for creative and commercial content has flooded a market that has never been more saturated. Appropriation has been re-appropriated twice over, and the day of the original logo is but a glimmer in the hypebeast’s eye. There’s more to sift through than ever before and our standards, consciously or subconsciously, have been raised as a result. So, when we stumble upon brands or designers who, despite it all, still manage to set themselves apart from the masses, it somehow feels like more of a feat.
The five brands highlighted below come from different places with different stories and styles, but they all bring a distinct level of passion and commitment to their craft and process, as well as a unique vision and perspective in a world increasingly dominated by corporate market research and algorithmic advertising. On some level, we know that there is more intrinsic value in a garment or object made by a creative individual or a collaborative group of artists than something churned out of a machine or thrown together in a cheap labor sweatshop for maximum sales potential. When something is created by the hand of the artist, we feel closer to their story, to their humanity, and also to our own; in championing and supporting them, we feel like a small but essential part of their journey. At a time when humanity feels harder and harder to come by amid the volatile social and political landscape, the artist’s hand matters more than ever. Here are five brands to know before they blow up.