You might already be familiar with fashion-forward contemporary brands like Ganni, Staud, and Nanushka—but a new class of minimal, neutral palette–loving labels has emerged. From LVIR to Loulou Studio to Totême, a mix of up-and-coming and well-established labels are finding success within the more approachable and price-conscious space they occupy in the contemporary category of the womenswear market. Their devotees are style-conscious individuals who don’t want to compromise on taste, prefer slow to fast fashion, and gravitate toward minimalism.
According to Sasha Skoda, head of women’s at The RealReal, customers are building a capsule wardrobe of foundational pieces and have responded well to women’s coats and knits priced around $500. And there’s a handful of brands doing just that at a refreshing advanced or contemporary price point. Best of all, most of these companies are baking conscious and sustainable practices into their operations.
We’ve highlighted 20 labels that fall into this category—makers of clothes that are simple but never plain; wearable but never tiresome. Most of the collections share a common vision: to create a modern uniform to be worn and reworn for seasons to come. And that’s not to say they lack a fashion perspective either. These are labels with a point of view.
With price points mostly under $1,000, these labels have been brought on by a handful of luxury retailers that can barely keep them in stock. According to Tracy Margolies, chief merchant at Saks Fifth Avenue, Loulou Studio took off, while Totême has been a major success at both MatchesFashion.com and Net-a-Porter. The latter saw double-digit growth from the brand.
Shop Loulou Studio, Totême, By Malene Birger, and more of the designers filling our modern wardrobes, below.
Girl-about-town (Paris, to be exact) Chloé Harrouche founded her fashion label because she couldn’t find those wardrobe staples she was looking for. Enter LouLou Studio, which uses the city as inspiration and offers chic sophistication with its loose-fitting selection of perfect basics—relaxed trousers, suiting, sweater-vests, and tees with a twist.
Founded by Elin Kling and Karl Lindman in New York in 2014, the now Stockholm-based label was created to offer luxurious wardrobe staples that transcend trends. Each season the brand’s edit focuses on its own signatures—like quilted jackets and sleek denim pieces. To shop Totême is to acquire foundations for the ultimate minimal, modern uniform.
“Scandi style” has become a desirable aesthetic, and By Malene Birger certainly embodies just that. With an eclectic approach to the minimalism of the region, the label describes itself as bohemian-infused. The collection includes a range of textured knitwear, suiting, and shearling coats, plus accessories to go along with it.
With 25 years of design experience between them, South Korea–based design duo Jiyoung Ahn and WonSub Lee began LVIR. Three years later the brand debuted in Paris and was picked up by retailers like Browns, Net-a-Porter, Ssense, and Saks Fifth Avenue, which gravitated to LVIR’s masculine utility–meets–modern femininity approach. You can expect workwear-inspired dresses, structured trousers, and faux leather outerwear.
Manhattan locals and Parisians might already be familiar with the Frankie Shop’s brick-and-mortar locations, which sells a mix of labels like Rachel Comey and Simon Miller, but its own line of minimal yet stylish wallet-conscious staples is just as noteworthy. Founded by Gaelle Drevet, standouts of the brand include pleated trousers and hourglass-shaped blazers.
In 2016 BITE Studios was founded by a group of friends based across London and Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden. The brand (an acronym for By Independent Thinkers for Environmental Progress) creates thoughtfully designed pieces with longevity in mind—95 percent of the materials and textiles used in its collections are either organic, recycled, or low impact. You might have seen one of its oversized cuff silk blouses or earthy-colored separates on Net-a-Porter’s consciously focused edit, Net Sustain.
Anna Quan is an Australian label launched in 2015 and designed by Anna Huong. Following a less-is-more philosophy, the line is known for its elevated tailoring and shirting options and has put a focus on luxe comfort—it now offers a range of knit dresses and relaxed trousers in clean, super-wearable silhouettes.
New Zealand–based duo Paris Mitchell Temple and Georgia Cherrie are the cool-girl best friends behind this label. Their womenswear is an ode to the female form, and they’re known for combining subtle design details with a modern appeal. You might recognize Paris Georgia’s signature contrast trim tank or slip dress—both can be spotted on a bevy of It girls on Instagram.
Ranging from $69 to just over $1,000, Tove refers to its own retail strategy as “respectful pricing.” The range reflects the unique materials and the level of craft and workmanship that goes into each piece. Founded by Camille Perry and Holly Wright in 2019, the label offers elegantly gathered dresses and pleated tops that wonderfully fuse a minimal and feminine aesthetic.
Seventy percent of Anna October’s spring 2021 collection was made from deadstock fabrics. The Ukraine-based label, named after its designer, brings a contemporary twist to vintage-inspired pieces like open-back knit dresses, breezy midiskirts, and smocked bustier tops. October’s easy pale hues would attract even the most minimally minded person to color.
Founded by Eunhye Shin, Le17 Septembre offers an upgrade to modern basics. Responsibly made in Seoul, the label boasts clean and unfussy silhouettes in neutral tones—elevated loungewear sets, day dresses, and easygoing trousers—which are given a bit of personality with the addition of a knot or unexpected seam. The line is also influenced by Korean architecture and design, and retails at an approachable price without overproduction.
Esse Studios brings familiar yet covetable basics—black tailored Bermuda shorts and button-up shirting—to the forefront of conscious-minded style. Founded and designed by Charlotte Hicks, the Australian label reimagines classic pieces in slow-released capsule collections made from sustainably sourced fabrics. The brand’s mission is to produce less but offer well-fitted, everyday staples that work for you.
Based in Seoul, Low Classic is designed by founder Myoungsin Lee, who approaches fashion with a back-to-basics philosophy. She offers everyday pieces like blazers, knits, belted trousers, and shirting with a utilitarian aesthetic—no embellishments or fussy fabrics. Each season brings an elegant and modern take on contemporary minimalism, as Lee marries straightforward suiting traditions with innovative design.
Swedish contemporary brand House of Dagmar, part of the Stockholm Fashion Week calendar, applies a thoughtful approach in designing its essential wardrobe staples. In fact, the spring 2021 collection is made of 100 percent sustainable materials and certified fabrics. You might shop the label for its mindful practices and contemporary price points, but also for the Scandi spin it puts on everyday wardrobe essentials—they’re just as cool as you would expect.
New to the market in 2021, Attersee offers everyday essentials like easy trousers and sleek shirting in a neutral color palette. The name comes from a lake in Austria where artist Gustav Klimt would go to relax during his summers. The label channels this carefree spirit into elevated wardrobe foundations that are as easy to wear as they are well-made.
Emerging out of the Georgian fashion scene comes a minimalist-meets-utilitarian inspired label, Matérial Tbilisi. The brand offers faux leather pieces, oversized tailoring, and one-shoulder silhouettes using 80 percent recycled materials and eco certified fabrics. Everything from sample making to production happens in their factory in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Known for their luxurious knitwear and leather pieces, Budapest-based Aeron combines traditional design and craft with the latest waste-reducing and sustainable sourcing practices. The brand’s creative director Eszter Áron designs for the multifaceted woman, and offers a range of wardrobe signatures to reflect that vision.
St Agni offers refined ready to wear and accessories that fall into a category the brand describes as “the space between the progressive contemporary and nonchalance”. The Byron Bay, Australia-based label’s current collection draws inspiration from classic pieces and ’90s minimalism.
While bold colors might not feel simple, High Sport’s capsule wardrobe—made up of durable and polished pieces—is what makes this label minimal in its own right. Industry vet and founder Alissa Zachary has worked at brands like The Row, Khaite, and Rosetta Getty, and has now perfected her own line of structured yet wearable pieces, like stretch pants and easy sweaters.