2022 has been a year full of fashion moments high and low, from the full return of destination shows to the shocking news of Raf Simons closing his renowned eponymous label. But regardless of what moments make us cheer or cry with each passing year, the promise of burgeoning brands always provides a glimmer of creative hope.
Between winning coveted awards, challenging the status quo and presenting on the official fashion week calendar, several imprints from across the globe turned heads for their innovative outlook on menswear design this year. Whether it be refreshed tailoring or expanded knitwear, it’s clear that the possibilities of silhouettes and styles are ever-growing. Below, HYPEBEAST has rounded up eight of the best emerging menswear brands of 2022.
Founded in 2018 by Idris Balogun, WINNIE New York exists to expand the cadence of contemporary menswear. Before starting his label, Balogun’s Saville Row training led him to hold the titles of Senior Menswear Director at Burberry and Menswear Director at Tom Ford. So it is clear that the designer has an enhanced skillset.
What shines about Balogun’s designs is its commitment to setting forth timeless, yet modern silhouettes that are full of reverence and cultural exaltation. Whether it be looking at 19th-century botanical postcards by Angolan artist Alida Rodrigues or his Nigerian heritage, the collections stand firm in celebrating culture and form.
“For me, I’m not really about this idea of creating a silhouette per se. I’m more about the chase of purity and having people informed,” said Balogun in a previous HYPEBEAST feature. “The type of information we put out we should think twice about. I’m more about the pursual of the best possible product and trying to make it so it lasts forever.”
Earlier this year, Balogun’s label won the 2022 Karl Lagerfeld Prize alongside Eli Russell Linnetz’s ERL, which is the runner-up to the LVMH Prize.
Since its founding in 2020, Steven Stokey Daley’s eponymous label S.S.DALEY has been leading a fiery path in fashion. Born and raised in London, the young designer has brought a newfound energy to the fashion world that not only imparts chic, yet culturally rich silhouettes, but presents them in attractively original ways.
Choosing to cast actors instead of models, Daley’s shows take on a theatrical persona that usually challenges notions of the British class. But alongside these cerebral presentations, a design foundation that remains unequivocally rooted in the U.K. is what continues to make his creations soar. Whether it be taking a look at countryside dress or the history of the British uniform, Daley’s label finds the sweet spot between inspiration and imagination – setting forth elevated cuts and silhouettes embedded with rich fabrications.
Since jumping on the scene, S.S.DALEY has won the 2022 LVMH Prize in addition to this year’s BFC Foundation Award.
Pierre Davis’ brand No Sesso stands in a class of its own due to its drive in exalting multiple experiences. Italian for “no sex/no gender,” the community-minded brand was founded in Los Angeles in 2015 – turning the tides of what true identic expression means. Centering on the Black experience and particularly the Black Femme, No Sesso finds strength in fusing color and modernity.
With an honest genderless design philosophy leading the way, the clothes remain limitless in their styles and constructions. Whether it be languid silk, fanciful fur, luxe leather or daring denim fabrics, the collections present fused styles that always harbor a sliver of sexy. Dresses have appeared with draped constructions alongside sinched bodices, while denim pieces have extended their reach via corset detailing, oversized shoulders and expanded sleeves. Another design hallmark is Davis’ way of making patchwork knits and printed fabrics warm, yet seductive.
No Sesso has shown during New York Fashion Week since February 2019 and was also a 2022 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist.
Namesake designer Nicholas Raefski launched his label out of a Fordham University dorm room in 2020. Without an education in fashion (he finished with a degree in economics and a master’s in media management), the designer continues to learn as he goes, candidly sharing each step of his journey on his Instagram Stories.
For FW22, the brand debuted a collection inspired by “false nostalgia,” with a mash-up of bold essentials for the punks and nerds of the 1970s. The following season, Raefski set his collection in a fictional intergalactic hotel, where a futuristic line offered a bevy of standout ensembles, including a red-grey, color-blocked suit, a David-Bowie-embossed button-down shirt and a blue-cream varsity jacket that paired with matching above-the-knee shorts.
With two New York Men’s Day shows under his belt, the designer’s eponymous vision is coming into focus, with thought-provoking storytelling and divergent reinventions of menswear staples.
Private Policy‘s Siying Qu and Haoran Li have not only prevailed in New York’s fashion scene as premium purveyors of elevated clubwear, but they’ve also emerged as proponents of environmental protection.
With each season, the designer label grounds itself on a specific, central theme that normally has roots in the natural world. Similar to past seasons, which took cues from Urban Plants (SS22) and Organic Futurism with Fungi (FW22), the latter of which included harnessed tops, strappy pants and vegan leather items in earthy shades, the brand’s latest collection, “Noah’s Ark,” told a distinct story. Juxtaposing coupled animals with downtown clubgoers, the collection, named after the biblical Ark, presented 27 looks defined by unshackled design codes, rave-ready silhouettes and a symbolic dove print.
Additionally, the brand offers a slew of forward-minded action items related to each season’s chosen topic. For SS23, Private Policy advocated for efforts to halt deforestation for real estate development and construct wide-spanning highways for animal migration.
Founded in 2020 by Togolese immigrant Jacques Agbobly, Black Boy Knits presents a reimagined take on the possibilities of knitwear. Championing Black, immigrant and queer stories, Agbobly’s brand is about where we all feel at home, as much as is it about creating beautiful garments.
Rooted in Agbobly’s Togo and Westside Chicago upbringing, designing is his means of connecting with the world and instilling joy into one’s everyday life. By focusing on the malleable aspects of knitwear, Agbobly’s creations impart deep cuts on historical and cultural reverence through his use of lively colors, intricate design styles and sustainable fabrics.
Some of his most popular made-to-order pieces include hand-made striped tank tops, extended layered chunky cable knits and dramatic floor-hugging trousers. Although the Brooklyn-based label centers knitwear, Agbobly has also crafted an array of jackets, elongated button-down shirts and more enlivened by asymmetrical proportions, glimmering beaded detailing and multicolored stitching.
Earlier this year, Agbobly won the DHL Logistics in Fashion Award and was a 2022 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist.
Founded in 2016 by Taofeek Abijako, Head of State is a design imprint that puts forth a modern vision of postcolonial youth culture. In doing so, the New York-based brand exists as both a chronicle of this diversity and a critique of the western culture’s impact on the space through its design.
Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Abijako injects components of his cultural heritage across his collections, toying with a selection of impactful cut-outs and subtle constructions that speak to his identity. This year, the designer garnered mainstream notoriety for the bespoke, corset-inspired suit that Evan Mock sported at the 2022 Met Gala. The look, which played into the night’s Gilded Age theme, comprise a cream-colored suit with low-rise pants and a form-hugging top. In October, Head of State opened its first collaborative exhibition, titled “In Moonlight We Turn Blue,” with Strada, which housed the imprint’s latest collection along with artwos done by select artists from Nigeria and the U.S.
Notably, proceeds from the brand’s sales provide funding for a variety of initiatives that serve to help underserved communities build stable futures through growth in the education, infrastructure and sanitation domains.
Post Archive Faction, founded by Dongjoon Lim and Sookyo Jeong in 2018, offers South Korean menswear with a rebellious prototype theme. Opposing the status quo, the fledgling design label has written its own codes by revisiting its own archives with an experimental approach.
The resulting designs fall into PAF’s conventional “RIGHT” category, the “CENTER” label, or the label’s experimental “LEFT” series. Since the brand’s inception, the avant-garde label has continued to expand its platform with a boundary-pushing aesthetic that consistently results in ultra-imaginative concepts and technically-advanced silhouettes. A master of deconstruction, PAF oftentimes puts out sci-fi-esque iterations that tap into crinkling techniques, asymmetrical constructions and artful expressions.
The brand was named a semi-finalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize in 2021. This year, Post Archive Faction opened its first physical retail experience in Seoul’s Dasan-ro industrial district. Presently, its collection range from “1.0” to “5.0,” with the aforementioned denominations describing each garment’s brassiness.