Luckily, there are some killer labels out there right now offering stellar, ultra-wearable pieces for a more moderate fee than their pricier counterparts.
With many major heritage brands, investing in a piece means buying into their rich history.
Supporting skilled artisans and championing quality design is a great way to spend your cash, but the often eye-watering retail prices also reflect what it costs to fund lavish advert campaigns and celebrity ambassadors.
Fashion fans are getting savvier, and many are looking to top up their wardrobes with pieces from chic, mid-priced market disruptors.
How we chose:
- Style: Obviously, style is imperative. While each of our chosen brands have their own individual aesthetics, they are united by the fact that their pieces are adored by fashion editors and It-girls alike. Some celebrate a loosely vintage outlook - Rixo and Needle & Thread are both great choices for retro-feel evening wear - whereas the likes of Rouje and Réalisation Par excel in chic, cool-girl cuts.
- Quality: Designers, stylists, technicians and skilled garment construction workers are at the heart of these labels. While they can't offer you bespoke couture, the creatives who lead these brands opt for quality fabrics and specialise in attention to detail.
- Price: Costing more than the usual high street labels but less than the top luxury maisons, these brands represent something of a middle ground.
Hello! Fashion shares the affordable designer brands that fashion editors love:
Best for coquettish romance: LoveShackFancy
Founded by esteemed stylist Rebecca Hessel Cohen, LoveShackFancy exudes an uber-feminine, romantic vibe. It screams Cottagecore girlie, and we're not mad about it. Renowned for bucolic florals and pretty ruffles, look no further if you're wanting to serve Little House on the Prairie with a healthy dose of saccharine spirit.
Crafted from a lightweight cotton-linen blend, the label's Miranti top is playful and cool - perfect for beach escapades. The micro length has an air of daring, but its standout feature is the beautiful sleeve design. Featuring scalloped edge broderie anglaise embroidery and a puffed silhouette, the piece would look perfect alongside a cream denim midi skirt and raffia wedges.
Best for cool-girl vibes: Ganni
Scandi label Ganni has amassed a cult following for excellent reason. With husband-and-wife duo Nicolaj Reffstrup and Ditte Reffstrup at its helm, the brand has certain instantly recognisable design signatures - flattering ruching, tiered shapes, statement collars and the like. But it also pays heed to the latest trends, reflected in its well-considered limited-edition collaborations with other major industry players.
Cut from organic cotton, this corset gives denim a whole new lease of life. Silver trousers were all the rage during party season, and now we're taking the metallic hue into our upper half. The slim fit feels flattering and measured, lending itself to a more voluminous trouser moment.
Best for luxe accessories: Anine Bing
Los Angeles-based Anine Bing excels in investment pieces that are built to last – its collections are essentially the devout minimalist's idea of heaven. The label is adored for its cool-girl blazers, staple tanks and oversized sporty sweatshirts (very Princess Diana). But its accessory collection is equally well thought out. Timeless yellow-gold hoops, minimalist shades and its cult-adored Nico bag.
A somewhat unexpected It-bag comes in the form of Anine Bing's Nico design. Unlike its mostly leather counterparts, the bag is created from a wool blend. Fusing a classic houndstooth pattern alongside elegant gold hardware, the structured top handle feels contemporary and cool. Style yours with a sumptuous black polo neck jumper and dark rectangular shades.
Best for wedding guest dresses: Reformation
The editor-adored label began back in 2009 as a Los Angeles vintage resale boutique, and it has come on leaps and bounds. More than a decade on, Reformation is known and adored for its thoughtful cuts, pretty silks and elegant ditsy florals. If you've got a special occasion on the horizon, be sure to check out its midi dress selection.
My major fashion bugbear is when so many high street brands don't put enough care and attention into their florals. Reformation hits the nail on the head with its 100% silk Aribella dress. I love the delicacy of the ruffle neckline and the flattering midaxi length.
Best for minimalist staples: Tove
Founded in 2019, Tove is still a relative newcomer to the fashion landscape, and yet it had made a serious splash among those who favour crisp lines and understated concepts. The brainchild of Camille Perry and Holly Wright has won over capsule wardrobe devotees and we are totally here for its focus on longevity.
Our search for the perfect knitted day dress is complete. In a luxe oat hue, this merino wool midi by Tove features elegant drapery and feels timeless enough to go the distance.
Best for party glam: Self-Portrait
Meghan Markle created some serious buzz around Hang Chong's mid-priced London label when she wore a piece by Self-Portrait on her first royal tour. The brand's lace creations will go down in fashion history, but these days we're lusting after the London-based label's highly covetable accessories – ideal for wedding season. "From the start I wanted to create a brand that is really inclusive, so price point was always a big part of it," Hang told The Guardian. "I design for people to wear, not just for my own creative desire."
Crafted from faux python leather, this super cute silver micro bag is seriously tempting. Infused with a certain futuristic appeal, it's giving Barbarella with a hit of extra femininity. The light-reflecting standout bow would look killer alongside a chainmail slip and clear heels.
Best for vintage femininity: Needle & Thread
Founded by Hannah Coffin in 2013, Needle & Thread is perfect if you're on the hunt for a showstopper. Look no further than its exquisite selection of pretty evening wear, inspired by "classic English gardens, vintage textiles, delicate florals and antique prints". Expect romantic ruffles, calculated embellishment and botanical appliqué.
Inject your party 'fit with a dose of dazzle with Needle & Thread's Valerie dress. The piece is coated in sequins with an almost opalescent quality, and it's fair to say that it will look unreal on the dance floor. What I love the most is the subtle mesh frill along the hem and neckline. Not a want, but a need.
Best for chic workwear: Veronica Beard
With a sister-in-law design duo at its helm, Veronica Beard is widely heralded for its beautifully tailored Dickey jackets – perfect for stepping your workwear game up a notch. Painstakingly sculpted to flatter, its hero style, often completed with gilded statement buttons, presents an excellent affordable alternative to those by Balmain.
Veronica Beard's signature blazers are categorically statement, but I can't help but admire its leather collarless jacket. The smooth midnight navy hue feels luxe and a bit different to classic black, and I love how it pairs with the silver embossed buttons.
Best for bold prints: Rixo
You'd be hard pressed to find a Rixo dress that we didn't adore. With best friends Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey at its core, the brand excels in elevating vintage-esque prints with its uber-flattering silhouettes. We're equally besotted with its extremely covetable accessory selection - think chic skinny scarves and versatile gold coin belts - but its print designers are its true heroes.
Rixo's floaty one-shoulder Chaka top is giving easy-breezy 1970s glamour. The peacock print feels luxe and I love the semi-sheer finish of the viscose georgette. Team with straight-leg jeans and metallic mules for smart-casual cool.
Best for timeless silhouettes: Musier Paris
Masterminded by Anne-Laure Mais, Musier Paris is all about flattering shapes that endure well into next season and beyond. "Each piece has been designed to be worn and re-worn without getting tired or outdated," the brand writes. "We believe that it is important today not to encourage over-consumption, which is why we offer small collections and quality pieces that will follow you through the years." One quick glance at Musier's new-in section is enough to leave us anguished with longing for days. We want everything.
Crafted from stretch jersey for a super flatting fit, Musier's Senora dress is at the top of my current wish list. I love the classic elegance of the black in combination with the daring keyhole neckline for added interest.
Best for heavenly dresses: Réalisation Par
Simply put, for us mere mortals, Réalisation Par dresses are our best shot at looking divine. Founded by Alexandra Spencer and Teale Talbot, the brand focuses on delivering stylish individual pieces rather than traditional seasonal collections. Aiming to deliver the "special items" the founders felt their own wardrobes lacked, the label is all about flattering cuts and well-thought-out ditsy prints. Since I purchased its Vivienne Nudité dress last year, an exquisite semi-sheer slim-fit midi with cuffed bell sleeves, my obsession hasn't waned.
The Gia is the cult favourite, winning over fashion editors and influencers alike. After its zebra print version went viral, many high street brands have (unsatisfyingly, I hasten to add) attempted to mimic its free-flowing 1970s cut, but the original is still the gold-standard for me. Style yours with beachy waves and tan leather wedges this season.
Best for super wearable accessories: Rouje
Created by Parisian chic poster girl Jeanne Damas, Rouje is steeped in French-girl flair. Think clever cuts, luxe-looking fabrics and enduring appeal. Its prints have much in common with the aforementioned Réalisation Par, but its versatile accessories are next-level if you're in the market for minimalist sandals, chic scarves and easy-breezy bag silhouettes.
The label's Rania bag nods to the rustic texture trend and feels like an elegant addition to our summer accessory collection. Created in Madagascar using locally-produced raffia, the contrastingly-hued floral adornment feels delicate and cool.
Why you should trust me:
Orin Carlin is Hello! Fashion’s SEO Content Writer. Promising to leave no stone unturned in the name of fashion and beauty journalism, she is the proud creator of our ‘Try The Trend’ series. With a particular interest in formula innovation, microtrends, royal and bridal beauty, perfume, rituals, treatments, fashion history and vintage icons, she can either be found interviewing major industry names (previous subjects include Georgia May Jagger, Mary Greenwell and Sam McKnight) or scouring the internet for must-have pieces. It's not just a job; it's a personal quest to unearth noteworthy pieces that resonate with style enthusiasts.
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