British fashion is renowned for fostering young design talent, and trailblazing names seem to emerge at breathtaking speed. But where can one browse the collections created by up-and-coming labels before they hit the big time? The Young British Designers e-store was founded by advertising executive Debra Hepburn and her husband Julian Whitehead (formerly global brand communications director at Land Rover) almost a decade ago to give start-up brands a platform to sell without the pressures that can sometimes come with more high-profile retailers. It has since been a successful starting point for a succession of exciting designers including JW Anderson, Eudon Choi and Rejina Pyo.
Today the site showcases 50 designers across womenswear, accessories and jewellery. Many of them echo fashion’s current focus on sustainability, using organic materials and artisanal treatments. Renli Su, for example, creates beautiful hand-embroidered garments such as the delicately stitched and artfully crumpled soft-white coat (£930) and the subtly floral patchwork jacket (£1,040) in wool, raw cotton and tulle, while Wen Pan’s layered, deconstructed-then-reconstructed designs include a gorgeous side-knotted top (£245) in washed-out, frayed-edge plaids and shirting stripes. The focus of Charlotte’s Allen’s label Klements, however, is print, with the animal-adorned Jungle Sketchbook print gracing a pair of wide silk-satin trousers (£350) and the intricate Doomed Voyage toile de jouy made into statement silk dresses (from £649) and an accompanying kimono (£530).
Knitwear, meanwhile, ranges from McConnell’s traditional-with-a-twist Irish-made jumpers and cardigans – such as the Westport Aran sweater (£160), which uses a classic technique in a contemporary shape, and the drapey wool/cashmere Cashel cardigan (£250) – to the elegantly oversized cotton Theo rollneck (£190) by LF Markey. And there are accessories aplenty, with bags running from the smart bi-colour leather Arau satchel (£320) by M Hulot, to the pretty, embellished Sophie Pittom clutches (from £175) and shoes encompassing both the chic, heart-shaped Camilla Elphick Lover pumps (£270) in patent-leather silver, as well as the fun Palma-violet suede brogues (£159) featuring neon laces and zebra stripes by Rogue Matilda.