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Six of our favourite independent brands

Six of our favourite independent brands

Don’t get us wrong – we love a high-street or big marquee brand as much as the next person. But when it comes to the pieces that give our wardrobe that special something, you’ll find us turning to one of our go-to independent brands. Why?  Because it’s these smaller brands that design the pieces not every other person you see is wearing, giving your wardrobe a fresh, less predictable feel. It also happens to feel really good to support a smaller brand that’s setting out to do something different in the industry (trust us). 

And because we’re lucky enough to sell many of these visionary brands on our site, we tapped stylist Toby Standing to highlight not just one, but six that should firmly be on your radar –  from a sustainable stalwart to a New York-born brand that’s reinventing classic staples. He’s also whittled down their assortments to the pieces he thinks you should snag first. Just don’t be surprised when everyone else in your life wants to start snagging them too.

1. Colorful Standard

Why we love it

If there’s a brand that Toby sees as the best place to head for high-quality essentials, it’s Colorful Standard. The label is known for its vast collection of organic cotton jersey tees and sweatshirts, which are available in a wide variety of colourways and styles.  Every piece is crafted in Portugal, which, as Toby explains, is “home to the best jersey factories in the world.” With its sustainable credentials, you’d expect a bulky price tag to match. Toby notes that this is what he loves about the label, “they offer pieces at an amazing price point for the high level of quality and construction.” 

Our favourite summer style 

Interestingly, Toby hasn’t picked out one of the aforementioned jersey styles as the standout style for summer. Having recently branched out into shirts, he notes the “satisfying weight” of this Oxford shirt makes it one that’ll happily live in your wardrobe season after season. Simply leave loose over one of the label’s t-shirts for a day in the park, and button up when the sun sets.

Shop more Colorful Standard

2. Jam Store 

Why we love it

“Every time I’m looking for a graphic-printed tee, I’ll always end up buying from Jam Store,” notes Toby (who happens to be wearing one of the brand’s shirts as we chat in the office). Having suspected he’s on commission due to the sheer amount of praise he heaps on the Los Angeles label, we now fully understand why it makes the cut. Not only are its designs influenced by the enviable, laid-back style of skaters from the East Coast, but they’re also produced using the highest quality materials, including organic cotton and silk.  

Our favourite summer style 

There’s a reason why we believe you can never have too many tees. Not only are they easy to slip on without a second thought, but they’re also an easy, non-committal way to play with textures and patterns. This cotton t-shirt is no different with its graphic print and relaxed fit. It’s one for your everyday wardrobe. Just slip on your favourite pair of jeans and some tonal trainers.

Shop more Jam Store 

3. Corridor 

Why we love it

We’re heading across to New York for the next independent brand, Corridor (luckily, you can shop it from the comfort of wherever you’re sitting). Founder Dan Synder’s ethos is simple: to “create engaging yet classic pieces that can be worn season after season.” Toby notes the refreshing fact that many of the label’s designs aren’t trend-led, “it makes means they’ll work just as well this year, as they will next – which is what the majority of your wardrobe should offer.” 

Our favourite summer style

While we've mentioned that the brand's beauty is its transeasonal take on fashion, these cotton shorts are still a standout style for summer. Toby is quick to point out that their fit is one of the best he's seen around, "that five-inch leg inseam means they'll hit just above the knee, avoiding that oversized fit that makes them look like they're stolen from your dad's wardrobe." Noted.

Shop more Corridor

4. Y.M.C

Why we love it

This year, the London-born brand celebrated its 25th anniversary, which means (in our eyes) that it must be doing something right. Toby quickly points out that the label’s longevity doesn’t mean it isn’t afraid to take risks. “Often, I’ll spot a new print that I haven’t seen anywhere else, and that’s what makes Y.M.C so inspiring. The quality is there, but so is the constant creative approach.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. 

Our favourite summer style

Talking of prints, one of our favourite styles of the season is this shirt with the classic details of a camp collar and the recognisable motif of a bandana scarf. Toby mentions that this is the kind of statement piece that needs minimal styling, “a pair of your simplest chino shorts or jeans would work best – let this button-up take centre stage.”

Shop more YMC

5. Wax London

Why we love it

Our love for Wax London knows no bounds, and we’re proud to shout it from the rooftops (or, less cinematically, from our Style Tips). Toby explains our enduring affection for the label – “we use it in most of our menswear shoots, but for a good reason, as it’s one of best talents coming out of the city right now.” That’s praise indeed, and we have the credentials to back it up. The brand’s clothes are often produced using fabrics crafted in Britain – which means you know you’re getting the best quality items without breaking the bank. 

Our favourite summer style

You might not instantly agree that white trousers can be a wardrobe staple, but bear with us. Not only does the durable denim fabric of this pair mean they’ll be hard-wearing and easy to wash, but their muted palette, as Toby puts it, means they’ll “brighten up your ensemble even on the days the sun’s hiding.” We’d take things up a notch and opt for the double-denim look with a vintage-inspired jacket. “The blue tones will work nicely with that whitewashed hue,” Toby notes.

Shop more Wax London

6. Stepney Workers Club

Why we love it

Stepney Workers Club might have been founded in East London, but its unisex designs have been worn worldwide. Toby explains what makes the brand one of his go-to's for the season. “Every single one of the styles available for both men and women, which is, in my opinion, the future of fashion – it’s inclusive to all.” 

Our favourite summer style

The brand’s bestselling designs are its classic low-top plimsolls, which are offered in various iterations (Toby highlights the “corduroy style” as one to wear this season). As staples go, you’ll struggle to go wrong with these petrol blue beauties. “Those accents of mustard make them much more than your average everyday pair, plus their platform sole has them ready to pound the pavements when the rain comes.” We’re sold.

Stepney Workers Club


Words: Lottie Stanners
Photography: Jack Batchelor
Styling: Toby Standing
Styling assistant: Helly Pringle