The long-awaited list of bridging the visibility of what’s actually innovative and relevant to seethingly new and unlike any other: Thee Watchful Five. Thee Watchful Five features designers attempting to garner the attention and recognition they deserve for continuously blowing it out of the water. When creating this platform, the goal was to allow designers to fully express their messages and intentions behind the clothing. Often the fashion world gets labelled as “superficial” and “shallow,” but those opinions are misconstrued by the fast fashion world. These curated designers, moreso artists transform purpose and thoughtful ideas into real-life garments that, if given the opportunity, would challenge the creativity of large fashion markets. This is the chance to get privy to designers before they eventually blossom into full fashion houses and entice us just out of reach. So maybe you’ll see your fave or discover something new.
First on GLITCH’s list is a brand dedicated to reimagining threads: Amber W. Smith.
When chancing upon her page, we were completely taken in by her pieces’ delicacy, precision, and silhouettes. Her garments are hand strung together effortlessly to fit the curves and grooves of the female figure. Typically, a hard boning outlines the shape of the piece, whether the boning is leather, satin, or another sturdy fabric material. This gives the garment it’s structural binding to achieve the most remarkable part: hand-strung threads. The threads weave over the exposed skin like a neutral-toned wave, often incorporating gradient colouring to add another dimension to the garment.
So, how does one even begin to think of creating such a collection? Speaking to Smith, she gave us insight into her inspiration and the ultimate message behind the clothes.
“I have personally experienced both the strength and precariousness of the female body and my womenswear embodies this perspective. The thread garments, in particular, represent the destruction I had done to my body. I essentially had osteoporosis by the time I was 17, so there is an element of disintegration in the garments, but it’s done very deliberately. This delicacy is contrasted with dominance–leather, tailoring, and accents of industrial materials, like rubber. The thread garments seem to have sparked the most interest, but paradox and contradiction are essential to my brand vision.”
Somehow, she deconstructs and creates a sense of undone while completing an elevated story.
Patchwork has taken on a world of its own since upcycling and sustainability have become trending topics in the fashion world. Patchwork can get overused and start to mesh together in an unrecognisable blur, but Daria from Vintage Look Upcycle has loudly and boldly been putting an end to the sameness. Daria, a young Russian designer, almost fell into the world of designing and creating. She originally started working odd jobs: working on her own reselling business and opening a bar with her husband. Incidentally, she took a piece she intended to second-hand and made a vest that would be the immediate beginning of the Vintage Look.
The clothing itself utilises the base of denim, a trusted material. She incorporates dyes, lacing, and embellishment to characterise her garments. Notably, she draws and cuts large designed patches like multi-denim coloured butterflies or skeleton bones) and assembles them onto the patchworked pants or skirt. Her garments are intricately emblazoned with detailed patches that elevate their beauty. She finds a great balance between distressed and clean hems that don’t make the work look or feel like it’ll fall apart at any moment. Daria’s opposition to uniformity is a beautiful and accurate brand description. She states
“I want people not to be afraid to be individual, and clothes complement them as a person. In my store, everyone will find something of their own. I’m glad that I can finally do what I want and people fucking love it. “
Earth Angelry transports you to a different time and place, finding the perfect symmetry between more typically feminine and masculine jewellery. Belle Zhao successfully creates steampunk-esque jewellery fit for the finest fairies of the garden. From necklaces to hair clips, Zhao ties together pearls and metal to elevate any look you’re pulling for the day. For her, the aesthetic also matches her intentions.
“Almost every piece is versatile in function, sizing, customizable, and its packaging is environmentally conscious. Every order also = a percentage given to mutual aid. I am community first, profit second. So I’m happy to break even.”
Versatility is the backbone of the magnetic allure of Earth Angelry, and the Lynx necklace is a prime example of it. Being one of the most sought-after pieces from her collection, the Lynx stands out with its mix-match key loops and chains with dangling pearls for a touch of grace. The necklace can be worn in a variety of ways/styles, giving a different perspective and silhouette from each angle. Zhao explains,
“ [Lynx necklace] many clasps allow you to put it on and take it off effortlessly. The many clasps and danglers allow customizable sizing, and the loops allow you to add charms and personalise your necklace completely. You can also use this necklace for other functions, like a belt chain, for example!”
GLITCH and the rest of the fashion world have a recent keen obsession with intricate knitwear, and July Li Studio just does not disappoint. Zhexin (July) Li goes beyond crafting different shapes, and dives into textures and textiles that bring an otherworldly magnitude to their pieces. She is inspired by the fluidity of movement between the individual and the fabric.
The initial draw is the knitting of thick ribs that sculpt the body. Li isn’t afraid to play with the different sizing or patterning of the knitted ribbing, making the body resemble an immaculately dressed wave pool. Often there are references to trending styles, such as the apocalyptic subversion or defining cut-outs that emphasise our best goodies. This understanding and exploration of fabric started with her quick stint at Parsons before COVID showed her she could trek out on her own by creating her brand in 2020. Since then, she has grabbed us by our cotton fibres. One of her more stand-out pieces is a long, knitted top with shoulder hooks and weaves past the belly button. It’s sleeveless and has a back, slender, defining shape to highlight the spine’s arch. Truly aiming to be the perfect elevated piece for summer.
This isn’t just a girls’ party. There is something for everyone. No one represents that more than Eric Friesen. Friesen was inspired by the story of Joseph from Egypt, who saved an entire tribe from certain death. Holding tight to the innovations and artistic influences from his own tribe, Friesen believes in the versatility and metamorphosis of the simplest of things and people. He states
“My mother had a very formative influence on me as a person. She has a true artistic soul without really being able to name it. As a child, she always sewed me clothes that no other child had, which probably somehow made me always want things that nobody had or that didn’t exist.”
The brand is adamant with reutilizing the base of denim into different fabric perceptions. He distresses and almost ribs the denim, creating a different fabric entirely. This fabrication adds buoyancy to the shape and how it falls on the silhouette. This process also takes likeness from patchwork by separating the distressed pieces and reassembling them to create a new shape entirely. One of my favourites from Friesen’s latest collections is a pair of purple fuchsia pants with such a defined structure that they slope dramatically over the knee. These have an element of patchwork with obvious cuts and reassembling in the body, but the extra lengthening in the in seam and the garter-like features at the ends of the hem take it to a whole other level.
Written by Nyla Stanford
Edited by GLITCH Team