The thing about basics is, they’re anything but simple. For a wardrobe essential to truly hit the mark, every detail has to be spot on, from the shape of a neckline to the cut of a sleeve, the choice of fabric to the just-right hue. Call it a fine art.
While there are plenty of basics out there, finding the ones that deliver isn’t so easy (hands up who’s spent years searching for the ultimate white T-shirt!). It takes some serious designer know-how to achieve the perfect execution – and some serious insider knowledge of where to find it. Which is where ICONS come in. We’ve compiled our go-to destinations for the very best pieces on which to build your forever wardrobe. Introducing the foundation experts…
“The ethos of Ninety Percent is linked to timeless products that result in empowerment, transparency and accountability.” says co-founder, Shafiq Hassan. Not only does the London-based label serve up easy-to-wear basics with a ’90s minimal aesthetic (this is where to go for your base-layer roll necks, organic cotton sweaters and second-skin bodysuits), it does so using responsible processes and sustainably sourced and recycled fabrics. The label also shares 90% of its profits between those involved with making every garment and five charities: War Child UK, WildAid, BRAC, Big Life Foundation and Children’s Hope.
What Blazé Milano doesn’t know about crafting the perfect blazer isn’t worth knowing. The Italian brand excels in on-point tailoring that feels at once classic and contemporary, and comes with a fit so flattering, you’ll find the signature Everyday blazer on every fashion editor’s must-have list. Founded by former fashion editors Corrada Rodriguez D’Acri, Delfina Pinardi and Maria Sole Torlonia, the cult label has extended beyond jackets into beautifully cut trousers, coats, dresses and knitwear, which all speak to the founders’ mission statement: “To create the most unique, chic, timeless garments for effortlessly cool, strong, confident and charming women.”
Guided by an ethos of: “Love it, layer it, and wear it forever”, Otiumberg has become synonymous with the sort of jewellery box essentials that are simple enough for day-in-day-out, yet always feel special. Founded by sisters Rosanna and Christie Wollenberg in 2016, the non-seasonal collection ticks every box, from stackable huggies and classic hoops to layering chains and friendship bracelets. Core styles remain a constant and can be mixed and matched to build a complete jewellery capsule. Committed to sustainable creation, pieces are made using recycled solid gold, gold vermeil and sterling silver, and responsibly sourced gemstones. Plus, packaging is plastic-free and recyclable.
“Another Tomorrow exists to push the boundaries of what is possible in the industry and offer women luxury without compromise” says Vanessa Barboni Hallik, who launched the ready-to-wear brand during a sabbatical from her career in finance, in a bid to challenge the fashion industry’s wasteful practices and create luxurious, wear-forever foundation pieces in a planet-first way. This translates into elegant layering pieces, sleek tailoring, easy dresses and classic knits crafted from traceable organic linen and cotton, ethical wool and FSC-certified viscose. Pieces come in versatile neutrals, punctuated by classic checks and pinstripes.
Israel-born, New York-based designer Nili Lotan founded her eponymous label in 2003, with a mission to both simplify and enhance women’s lives through luxe wardrobe pieces. “The collection is meant to serve the full breadth of a woman’s lifestyle, with ease, nonchalance, and sophistication”, says Lotan. Informed by her own sartorial needs, designs are rooted in everyday practicality, but come with contemporary silhouettes and premium fabrics. Think long-line cotton shirting, oversized blazers and elevated denim pieces that can just as easily be worn as casual or smart wear.
The chances are you already have a pair of Veja trainers in your wardrobe. The French brand’s minimalist designs, featuring the signature ‘V’ logo, work with everything from dresses to jumpsuits and tailoring to loungewear. But it’s not just versatile design that sets Veja apart. The B Corp-certified brand’s commitment to social and economic responsibility is exemplary. “Sustainability is an empty word, we choose reality” say friends and co-founders Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion, who source fair-trade materials, use low-impact processes and work closely with the factory in Brazil where all trainers are made to ensure a safe, fair environment.
No wardrobe can function at full speed without the right underwear; finding your perfect fit isn’t always easy, however. This is where Nudea comes in. The innovative lingerie brand has formulated custom fitting tools, which allow accurate self-measurement at home and mean gaping or pinching bras are a thing of the past. “Our mission is simple: to create supportive and functional underwear that looks great, feels great and is kinder to the planet.” says founder Priya Downes. Styles are made using recycled fabrics and trims and cater to every underwear need, from smooth T-shirt bras to seamless soft-cups.
The Frankie Shop
“The Frankie Shop is built around an effortless approach to style,” says Gaelle Drevet. Following the success of her boutiques in New York and Paris, former journalist Drevet, launched The Frankie Shop as a ready-to-wear brand in 2017. Identifying her customer as busy, timeless and who “never tries too hard”, the collection is all about classic shapes that mix masculine and feminine influences and have a distinctly ‘French-cool’ feel. Case in point, the Gelso four-piece suit, which offers a fresh interpretation of workwear style and could be dressed up with heels or down with backless loafers.
In our book, sunglasses aren’t just for the summer. Whatever the season, as long as there’s a sliver of sun, a pair of classic frames is a welcome outfit addition. And Le Specs is the place to find them. From cat-eye to aviator, the Australian label is known for mastering timeless shapes and bringing them up to date. What’s more, they won’t break the bank: “At the heart of Le Specs sits a fearlessness in design, and perseverance to offer the best quality and value for money,” says creative director Hamish Tame. Here’s where to pick up wear-on-repeat shades for under £60.
From working with the best natural and synthetic dyes available to using biodegradable fabrics and as many recyclable elements as possible, PANGAIA is dedicated to employing Earth-friendly practices and materials in its creation of wardrobe essentials designed to last. The label’s pared-back, sports-influenced aesthetic plays to an off-duty style – think organic cotton hoodies, chic track pants and recycled cashmere sweaters. However, the versatility of the capsule means pieces can also be dressed up; layer the classic crew-neck T-shirt under a trouser suit, pair the grape leather sneakers with a floral dress, or match ecru hemp jeans with a blazer and heels.
When it landed on the high street in 2017, ARKET swiftly became the place to find smart-price basics that hit above their price tag in terms of aesthetics and quality. Several years later, the Swedish brand remains a go-to for essentials, having stuck true to its ethos of hard-working, durable and stylish design. “We want to create a more beautiful everyday life through products that can be used and loved for a long time.” says brand and communications director, Karl-Johan Bogefors. Head here for perfect-fit T-shirts, versatile knits, luxe leather, trench coats and sharp tailoring.
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