It stands to reason, then, that fashion, an industry built on innovation, will move on from millennials to appeal to the next generation. They are dream customers for manufacturers, and hidden arms for luxury brands. They differ from millennials in that they value items over experiences, choose to thrift rather than buy fast fashion, and prefer brands that foster a diverse, gender-neutral, edgy, and, most importantly, authentic vision. The old laws under which the fashion industry has lived and died (such as status symbols and mass trends) have become hollow to them.
Before you dismiss their youth (and, for many, the famous families who have helped them get to this point), let the designers below demonstrate why they should be taken seriously. They may be taking on traditional industry positions, but their approach to them is anything but traditional: They are challenging today’s “standards” of age, race, and gender; they are initiating trends rather than adopting them; and they are sparking debates about issues such as sustainability and “plus-privilege.” And, despite their disparities in successes, they both agree on one point: the right to express oneself through clothing should not be taken for granted. Here are 6 teen visionaries who are transforming the fashion industry one selfie at a time.
- Tyler Lambert
His creations combine streetwear and a-gender clothes, two of the industry’s most daring aesthetics. So it’s no surprise that Kylie Jenner, a self-taught artist from Wisconsin, is already a fan. Tyler Lambert grew up in a small Wisconsin town that wasn’t exactly a fashion hotspot. In reality, the nearest designer store he had was 40 miles away, at an Abercrombie & Fitch. But, like any true artist, the fashion-obsessed teen used his surroundings as inspiration to create his own sartorial world, beginning at the age of 13.
Tyler fed his love of style while simultaneously (and unknowingly) stitching together the foundation for his future by dying, distressing, re-assembling, and re-imagining clothing he purchased at local thrift stores and genuinely making it his own. What began as a hobby quickly evolved into a passion project, and by high school, it had evolved into the early stages of a successful clothing company. Tyler, now 19, is in charge of his burgeoning namesake label.
Despite the fact that his designs have recently been worn by celebrities such as Kylie Jenner, Sofia Richie, and Bebe Rexha, Tyler still hand-makes each piece — a method he regards as sacred and central to his brand. Lambert was founded in 2013 by Tyler Lambert as a hobby of some kind, but over the time growed into the eclectic ready-to-wear brand seen today. Designed with quality and intent – inspired by elements like youth, versatility, and ‘streetwear’.
- Kyemah Mcentyre
Kyemah Mcentyre’s transformation from viral prom queen to creative designer
The rising designer’s love/hate relationship with social media makes her all the more relatable. Kyemah McEntyre (Mind of Kye to her many Instagram followers) is the first to admit she has a lot of work ahead of her. At the age of 20, she is best known for her prom gown, a Dashiki-printed, custom-made gown that went viral after she shared a picture of it on Instagram.
Within a few weeks, 3LW rapper and Power actress Naturi Naughton had commissioned her to create a gown for her to wear to the BET Awards in June 2015. Melissa Harris-Perry eventually reached out, and McEntyre was welcomed into the former MSNBC host’s show and dressed her for last month’s Girls Write Now Awards, which honored Zadie Smith.
Meanwhile, McEntyre has been featured in a Dove commercial, chosen to appear in a Teen Vogue spread, and cited in The New York Times as the woman whose example has inspired hundreds of her peers to choose traditional African prints for their prom dresses. She debuted her first collection at New York Fashion Week in February 2017.
- Vejus Kruszewski
Vejas Kruszewski, a 19-year-old designer, was awarded a special LVMH 2016 fashion prize. After graduating from high school, this young self-taught Canadian launched his eponymous label and is widely regarded as fashion’s next big thing. Antidote ran into him. “I believe Grace Wales Bonner, whom I greatly respect, should win. Her vision is so succinct, so straightforward, and so unlike everything else out there right now. I want her to win so I can see how she expands her world.” This was the response designer Vejas Kruszewski gave when he was first approached about making it to the final round of the LVMH Prize.
Bonner won the top prize this week, demonstrating that his talents as a designer extend to being able to spot true potential in his peers. The Central Saint Martins graduate was named the third winner of the annual LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers, which includes a seed fund of 300,000 euros and a year of mentorship from LVMH. However, before her name was revealed, Delphine Arnault stated that the jury had a difficult time selecting only one winner and thus awarded Kruszewski a special prize.
The bespectacled 19-year-old Canadian-born self-taught designer earned 150,000 euros as well as a year-long mentorship with LVMH. The reserved Vejas seemed to be stunned by the victory as he softly said a brief thank you before quickly stepping back.
- India Ross
For prom, this high schooler dressed up in Beyoncé’s Met Gala gown, and she SLAYED. We’re currently hoping we could go back to prom so that a certain someone could design our gowns. We’re talking about India Ross, an 18-year-old genius who drew inspiration for her princess-worthy prom look from none other than Queen Beyoncé. Given that she aspires to be a fashion designer and plans to open her own retail store in St.Louis, Missouri. India decided she wanted to go all out for prom in St. Louis, Missouri. Fortunately, inspiration struck early in Ross’s career when she set her sights on Beyoncé at the 2015 Met Gala. Ross told BuzzFeed, “I had the ideal picture in my head at the time.”
India reached out to local designer Toi Hall to make her Beyhive dream a reality, and the two collaborated to produce one of the most beautiful prom dresses we’ve ever seen. And we are not exaggerating: Obviously, everyone at the prom thought India rocked her prom dress (and high ponytail, of course) like she was wearing Roc necklaces. Furthermore, Ross said, “My date and I felt like Beyoncé and Jay-Z. It wasn’t prom; it looked more like the Grammys, and everybody slayed.”
Also, it’s not just her outfit that slays – India is essentially a Slay Queen. When asked about the overwhelming response to her dress, the future designer said, “I like to see how everyone feels about my idea.” “I value the good, the poor, and the ugly.”
- Devin Gilmartin
Co-founder and creative director, Querencia Studio, Devin Gilmartin. Devin Gilmartin began his design career with a T-shirt made from garbage because he believes clothing designers can change the world. Students wore garments made by Recover from fabrics woven from salvaged cotton scraps and plastic bottles at the Island School in the Bahamas, where he studied sustainability and marine biology for one semester in 2014.
As a result, Devin—son of MaryAnne Gilmartin, CEO of Brooklyn-based developer Forest City Ratner Cos.—joined forces with Recover to create a T-shirt to educate his New York classmates about the significance of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Agreement. Devin formed a partnership with Tegan Maxey, the daughter of the Island School’s founder, to launch the design company Querencia Studio after Recover sold nearly 1,000 copies of that $20 shirt. “I want to take shirts and give them to the right kids,” Devin explained. “To make eco-fashion something that people not only want but also completely comprehend.
Devin and Tegan launched a hoodie line on August 25. They launched their second line on Earth Day, 2017. “We want to create something that appeals to a high-fashion audience,” Devin explained shortly before starting his first year at London College of Fashion. “At the end of the day, those are the people who are pushing trends.”
- Lucia Santina Ribisi
Meet the Teenage Designer Behind Some of Saint Laurent’s Most Desirable Menswear. There’s ample eye-catching merchandise in Hedi Slimane’s Spring 2016 Saint Laurent men’s collection to keep fans talking for months, but a black bomber jacket with an entirely sequined back stands out among the Kurt Cobain glasses and shredded flannels. We may thank the 18-year-old artist Lucia Santina Ribisi for this. The graphic is based on a painting by Ribisi—she refers to it as “the Pet Names painting” over the phone—and was printed by Saint Laurent onto this sweater, a surfboard, a backpack, a pin, and a slew of other items from Slimane’s Surf Sound series.
“About six months after I finished the Baby painting, I received a text from Hedi Slimane saying, ‘Hi, I’m interested in seeing some of your artworks; could you please give me some images?’ Collaboration with SL xx Hedi is a possibility.’ “Of course, I knew who it was, and I was ecstatic,” Ribisi recalls. “The whole experience was truly magical. They work very quickly and in a very mystical, mysterious way. Someone came to pick up my painting and returned it the next day, carefully sealed. Then I got an invite to a fashion show in Paris.” Ribisi accompanied her mother, actress and interior designer Mariah O’Brien, to the event.