Luxury e-commerce site Net-a-Porter has revealed six new designers joining its ongoing The Vanguard mentorship programme, which has additionally seen their collections added to the retailer’s stock.
This edition’s designers include Renaissance Renaissance, Lukhanyo Mdingi, Khiry Fine, Sindiso Khumalo, Interior and Connor Ives. The selection process was based on sustainability commitments and couture-like sensibilities, with each drawing their own take on contemporary ideas.
Since its launch in September 2018, the programme has garnered an extensive alumnus, including the likes of Christopher John Rogers and, Netflix’s Next in Fashion winner, Minju Kim. Each participating designer takes part in a glocal mentorship programme with the goal to “empower fledgling designers to grow by nurturing their sartorial visions and accompanying businesses”, according to the retailer.
Lebanese designer Cynthia Merhej, of Renaissance Renaissance, offers couture-inspired apparel, such as voluminous dresses and skirts. Recently graduated Connor Ives, who has previously worked with Rihanna at Fenty, focused on sustainability for his deconstructed sportswear looks, while the Interior duo presented more elevated staples.
On the other hand, LVMH Prize finalists, Lukhanyo Mdingi and Sindiso Khumalo, both originating from Cape Town, work closely with their local communities on handwoven textiles and socially aware production processes.
The roundup also includes contemporary jeweller Khiry Fine directed by Jameel Mohammed. Already seen on Michelle Obama and with an established cult following, Mohammed’s designs are influenced by Afro-futuristic design.
He said: “Khiry’s aesthetic is influenced by shapes and themes that recur in the global African diaspora. As an artist, I seek to engage not just with the aesthetics of my work, but also with the societal themes and processes that give rise to it. I think the world of fine jewellery is changing; customers are finding and resonating with work from a broader swathe of designers than ever before.”