YOU’RE INVITED : GARDEN PARTY STYLE

Start prepping for your next outdoor do with our guide to chic, uncomplicated garden party dressing.

As lockdown restrictions ease we’re partying the only way we know how: outdoors and socially distanced. That’s right, garden parties are the new bar crawl, and this long-awaited sense of occasion calls for an outfit to suit.

If you’ve spent the year thus far in sweatpants and slippers, the thought of dressing up might be daunting. Luckily, our Boutique Buyers have made it easier for you to emerge from isolation in style – and comfort. The fresh edit of relaxed cotton dresses, slip-on footwear and more easy polish pieces is an effortless dresser’s dream. Scroll on to see what we’ll be wearing for those sun-soaked evenings on the patio.

MEET THE DESIGNER : UZMA BOZAI

We spoke to designer Uzma Bozai about finding inspiration for her eponymous label, watching her playful designs come to life and celebrating artistry. 

Uzma’s glitzy slogan sweatshirts shout out important causes like feminism, climate change and social justice in a fun and feisty way. 

The embellished pieces are created using traditional techniques, hand-finished by skilled artisans in India. It was during the summers Uzma spent here with her family that she fell in love with colour and embroidery. It takes up to fifteen hours to finish each piece yet it’s this meticulous attention to detail and celebration of time-honoured craftsmanship that makes the cool-girl designs truly stand out against a landscape of fast fashion. 

Uzma Bozai’s brand is known for its sassy statement styles in energetic colourways, meeting the current demand for elevated, fashion-forward loungewear. Hear more about how the label came to be.

3 BLOUSE TRENDS TO BOOKMARK

Featuring ruffles, balloon sleeves and super-sized collars, this season’s blouse selection is bigger and bolder than ever.

Thanks to the Zoom revolution, tops are the unexpected centrepiece of this year’s outfits. While jersey joggers and stretchy leggings will suffice from the waist down, the upper half is where we can have fun and let our personalities shine on those virtual meet-ups. Intricate necklines, artful embroidery and dramatic sleeves of dreams are dominating our shopping baskets. Playful trends like cottagecore and the ’80s power shoulder have ensured no style is too out-there. But with this ‘anything goes’ attitude, how can we know which iterations are worth investing in?

Well, we’ve whittled down the brigade of blouses into three key categories to make shopping – and styling – this season’s talking piece an easy task.

WE’VE FOUND YOUR PERFECT SUMMER SHADES

Set your sights on a pair of sustainable sunnies from the award-winning and eco-conscious brand, Bird Eyewear.

A sibling-run label dedicated to being as eco-friendly as possible through trend-defying design and ethical practices, the team behind this B Corp eyewear brand say they are creating, “Better eyewear for a better world.” The carbon-neutral brand has been hailed as one-to-watch by the likes of Forbes, Harper’s Bazaar and The Independent.

The timeless collection nods to vintage sunglasses design – think aviators, rounded shapes and tortoiseshell finishes – but the thoughtful styles look to a more sustainable future. Bird Eyewear uses mindful materials and dyes that are non-toxic, recyclable, biodegradable or compostable like bamboo wood, bio-based acetate, renewable cork and recycled aluminium. Bird also works to reduce global poverty and climate change; for every pair of glasses sold, it distributes solar lights to remote communities in Zambia and Malawi. 

It’s easy to see why this emerging, purposeful label should be on your summer style radar…

THIS LEATHER LABEL IS A MUST-HAVE FOR THE MODERN GENTLEMAN

If you are going to invest in one piece this month, look to a label passionate about handcrafting authentic leather goods designed to endure.

The Dust Italy takes a stand against throwaway culture, creating bags and accessories that they hope will be with you throughout all seasons of life.

Italian-made, the certified vegetable-tanned leather is treated in the traditional way and pieces only improve over time as the leather takes on a well-loved look that is wholly unique to you. The offering of work bags – think sleek briefcases and satchels – and casual bags – urban-cool backpacks and overnighters – keep to a classic palette with styles nodding to sophisticated and more rugged aesthetics.

The Dust Italy is inspired by the idea of the modern heirloom for a new generation who value exceptional skill and craftsmanship.

MEET THE FOUNDER OF EDITOR-APPROVED LABEL NRBY

Jo Hooper talks about her journey from buyer to founder, the importance of women empowering women and what she’s looking forward to wearing from the new collection.

Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and The Telegraph Fashion are just a handful of the publications that have fallen for brand-to-watch, NRBY.

NRBY creates simple wardrobe staples that prove clothing can be functional and seasonless without compromising on style. Jo was inspired by the concept of one-mile wear – the idea of clothes that can be worn, “For lazy days and doing days, and the days when you’re putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where life takes you.” The streamlined edit of slip-on dresses, casual tailoring, cashmere knitwear and dependable layering pieces are designed to slot seamlessly into your closet and have been seen on the likes of Alexandra Shulman, Lisa SnowdonJanet Street-PorterMary Nightingale and Marianela NunezThe collection’s fresh and feminine colour palette, feel-good fabrics and easy shapes are perfect for the everyday.

Naturally, we were keen to hear from the woman behind this fast-rising and universally appealing label. Meet Jo Hooper…

FROM ROME WITH LOVE : ROMANTIC PIECES FOR EVERYDAY

Launched in Rome in 2019, Amotea’s elegant and ethereal pieces are inspired by the art, history and character of the eternal city.

But for founder and creative director Diletta Amodei, the modern cosmopolitan woman is her primary muse – who, according to Diletta, “Looks to the future but with a bit of nostalgia for the past, for the classic.” She’s romantic and sophisticated, tough and edgy, feminine and ethereal, much like Rome itself. Enter Amotea. The brand embraces these contrasts with a fluid look-book of dresses, separates and accessories that are full of energy, texture and sophistication thanks to fabrics like plissé tulle, crisp cotton, structured taffeta and lace.

Amotea presents a new idea of romantic elegance for the 2021 woman. Elle, Grazia and Vanity Fair agree that this emerging label is one to watch…

BEHIND THE BOUTIQUE : THE MERCANTILE

East London fashion hub The Mercantile is widely loved for its eclectic brand mix and friendly, knowledgeable team. Hear the story behind the Atterley boutique from owner and buyer Debra McCann.

In London’s vibrant Spitalfields area sits The Mercantile, a multi-brand boutique bursting with unique designer gems. From emerging sustainable labels to fail-safe favourites – think Stine Goya, Bellerose and American Vintage – The Mercantile’s offering is vast, varied and guaranteed to draw you in.

Owner Debra McCann knows her customers well. And, with years of boutique experience and trade show buying behind her, she’s a trust-worthy source for discovering smaller designers and brands. Fine-tuning The Mercantile’s offering has meant seeking out new labels she knows her regulars will love, and stocking the latest from those they already do. Hear from Debra herself about the boutique’s journey, its challenges and its exciting future.