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Image: TFL

From promising creative directors and behind-the-scenes brand builders to super-influencers and to an advocate for more inclusive design, the fashion and many of the industries in its periphery are not inhabited by one-trick ponies. As the fashion industry becomes an increasingly diversified and globalized field, so too do its occupants. With that in mind, we – once again – looked at some of the most exciting forces of the moment, from a young climate change activist to a global marketing leader with an eye for the future, and compiled a short list – in no particular order – of who you should be watching.

 image via Greta Thunberg image via Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg, the young climate change pioneer – The fashion industry generates 1.26 billion tons of greenhouse emissions every year, which is more than the amount created by international flights and shipping combined, according to a 2017 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. In this (and others), the fashion industry is a leading contributor to what Greta Thunberg calls the “sustainability crisis,” something the16-year old Swedish political activist has already devoted several years of her life to.

Before landing on stages at the United Nations and Davos, Thunberg – frustrated by what she saw as a lack of attention paid to global warming – skipped school, and continued to skip school. In fact, for more than 6 months, Thunberg has opted out of attending classes on Fridays in an effort to raise awareness about climate change and specifically, to urge the Swedish government to enact legislation to ensure that the country’s greenhouse gas emissions are in line with the Paris Agreement.

Thunberg’s unwillingness to mince words – as evidenced at this year’s gathering in Davos, where she called out a room of CEOs, executive board members, politicians, royalty, and various other global elite, for actively adding to the climate change crisis  in order to “continue making unimaginable amounts of money” – has elevated her to the status of a global force in the climate change effort. As for skipping school, she says, “I don’t care if I get into trouble. I believe that one person can make a difference.”

 image via Allure image via Allure

Pat McGrath– While billion dollar beauty ventures are all the rage as of late, do not overlook Pat McGrath, who has one of her own. A long way from first dreaming up beauty looks for i-D magazine editorials in the 1990s, McGrath – and her tour de force of skill and passion – has won over the trust and respect of some of the industry’s foremost creatives, whether it be photographer Steven Meisel, designer John Galliano, or the now-reigning editor-in-chief of British Vogue Edward Enninful, whom she first worked with at i-D almost 30 years ago, back when they were both first getting their feet wet in the industry.

Now, 53-year old Pat McGrath has her hand in what Vogue editor Sarah Brown calls “90 percent” of the global beauty trends. In other words, what McGrath does – or does not do – with makeup impacts the business of brands across the globe and the faces of consumers, too.

With the title of fashion’s most in-demand makeup artist and a team that has swelled to nearly 100 different makeup artists to help her carry to load (both figuratively and literally, McGrath is known to travel with as many as 87 trunks of makeup during fashion month, after all), Ms. McGrath is tasked with crafting the beauty looks for approximately 80 of the industry’s most heavily-watched runway shows each season.  If you can think of a particularity striking makeup design that went down the runway over the past 20 years, it was probably McGrath’s handiwork.

 image via Bloomberg image via Bloomberg

Qiu Yafu, the Chinese conglomerate-builder –Over the past 3 years, alone, Qiu Yafu has spearheaded more than $4 billion in acquisitions. The chairman of Ruyi Holding Group has snapped up French fashion house SMCP (which owns Sandro, Maje, and Claudie Pierlot), Aquascutum, Bally, and Gieves & Hawkes – in furtherance of the building of what he calls a “globally renowned fashion powerhouse,” and what has been likened to a budding Chinese challenger to Paris-based luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

And Qui is not done yet. “Ruyi has firm and specific requirements and strategic positioning for fashion brands. We are always studying and watching brands that fit the positioning of high quality, high growth and high pricing,” he revealed late last year.

 image via Hector Bellerin image via Hector Bellerin

Héctor Bellerín, the fashion-focused footballer –Whether it is Louis Vuitton’s custom casing for the World Cup trophy, the explosion of sports-centric wares that have come out of the fashion industry dating back to the days of Coco Chanel, who notoriously created sporting trousers for women in the early 1900’s, or the ever-mounting attention to the car-to-locker room sartorial choices of athletes, fashion and sports have a long history. For just as long as fashion has courted sport as a source of inspiration, sports figures have found a place in fashion.

Potentially following in the footsteps of fashion plates like David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo, who have both launched their own lines and landed on the pages of many a fashion magazine, Héctor Bellerín has made his interest in the industry known by way of his Prada, Gucci, Raf Simons, Balenciaga, and Armani-infused wardrobe, as well as his appearances in the front rows of London Fashion Week shows. The Arsenal defender has already landed a deal with Puma – next up, his own venture?

 image via Hector Muelas image via Hector Muelas

Hector Muelas, the behind-the-scenes master brander –Rimowa, 120-year old luxury luggage brand that LVMH took under its wing in 2016, has almost certainly never been as cool as it is right now. The modernization of the brand has come under the watch of LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault’s mid-twenties spawn, Alexandre Arnault, who holds the co-CEO title, alongside Dieter Morszeck, the grandson of Paul Morszeck, the luggage company’s founder. There is another noteworthy figure in play here, though: Hector Muelas, the former Apple global marketing creative director and LVMH’s Global VP of Content and Creative.

Muelas joined Rimowa as the Chief Brand Officer in June 2017 and has been overseeing some of the most critical aspects – from strategizing global marketing and communications to overseeing creative output of the brand across the board. He may be something of a quiet force, but he is a force, nonetheless.

 image via Fenty image via Fenty

Rihanna, the pop star-slash-(bona fide) disrupter –An obvious name for any super-fan of the Grammy winner, but 31-year old Rihanna Fenty is swiftly making her name outside of the bounds of the music industry and adding consumer goods disruptor to her CV. Since launching Fenty Beauty in September 2017, and simultaneously bringing in a staggering $100 million in sales within 40 days and actually disrupting the largely diversity-devoid beauty industry with 40 shades of foundation, the multi-hyphenate force that is Rihanna has turned her attention to finding a better way of making and marketing undergarments. The result? Savage, the status quo-defying lingerie collection with its bras in sizes 32A to 38DD, underwear up to a size 3X, and other lingerie from extra small to extra-large, and “plans to increase the size range very soon.”

Still yet, the singer-slash-budding lifestyle mogul is said to be close to launching a luxury brand with LVMH, the Paris-based conglomerate with which she partnered to produce Fenty Beauty. As for the impending luxury venture, “It is understood her collection with LVMH will span ready-to-wear, leather goods and accessories, and could be released in tandem with her ninth album, expected out sometime later this year.”

 image via The Modist image via The Modist

Sinéad Burkethe inclusivity-focused advocate– Irish journalist, teacher, and a human rights PhD student Sinéad Burke’s passion is advocating for a more inclusive fashion industry. This is something she has written about at length and spoken about, including in a 2017 TED talk, entitled, “Why design should include everyone,” and even more recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Design is a way in which we can feel included in the world, but it is also a way in which we can uphold a person’s human rights,” she says. At the same time, “design can also inflict vulnerability on groups whose needs aren’t considered.” Born with achondroplasia, a bone growth disorder, and standing at three-and-a-half feet tall, Burke is particularly passionate and knowledgeable about her mission, making her one of the most compelling voices in the push for a more inclusive approach to design across the board.

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Wendy Yu, the next generation of fashion investments –“China’s unofficial fashion ambassador.” The country’s “new fairy godmother in fashion.” Its most “formidable force in fashion investments.” These are some of the descriptors tied to the barely 30-year old Wendy Yu, the Chinese-born, British-bred fashion patron, who – thanks to a $20 million-plus investment profile – has stakes in Mary Katrantzou, Cefinn, and growing number of tech ventures, such as the Chinese equivalents of Airbnb and Uber, and ASAP54, a fashion search and discovery app that is being touted as the “Shazam for fashion.”

Beyond her various stakes in fashion brands and other startups, Yu is a dedicated fashion philanthropist, recently earning the title of the “Met Gala’s biggest new donor,” in connection with her endowment of the position of “Curator in Charge of the [Metropolitan Museum of Art] Costume Institute.”

 image via La Ligne image via La Ligne

Danielle Nachmani, the stride-making celebrity stylist –On every best-dressed list for this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards? Laura Harrier in a custom fuchsia Loewe gown. The BlacKkKlansman actress has been turning up in knockout look after knockout look this awards season due in part, of course, to her stylist, Danielle Nachmani. After cutting her teeth exclusively styling Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and then building up a list of celebrity clients that now include Julia Garner, Katherine Waterston, Emma Greenwell, and Kelsey Asbille, among others, and brands like The Row, Rosetta Getty, and  Jonathan Simkhai, New York-based Nachmani is swiftly becoming one of the most exciting celebrity stylists to watch.

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Lutz Huelle, the creative director to watch – “One of its hidden gems” on the Paris Fashion Week calendar, according to Vogue, is the work of Lutz Huelle, the industry veteran, who has worked alongside Martin Margiela (thanks to his role as the head of the brand’s artisanal collection), racked up no small number of awards for his handiwork, and garnered fans in high places with his 18-year old eponymous label. German-born, Paris-based Huelle’s namesake brand may be on the minds of those truly in-the-know, but as of late last year, he is taking on a new role, as creative director of Milan-based brand, Delpozo.

image via Bottega Veneta

Daniel Lee, the Bottega Veneta “it” boy –Daniel Lee is slated as one of the must-watch runway debuts of the upcoming season even if he does have longtime creative director Tomas Maier’s big shoes to fill. The 32-year old designer is already garnering industry attention, and being likened to industry icon Phoebe Philo, thanks to the time he spent at Celine (where he served as director of ready-to-wear design, under Philo, of course), his penchant for understated elegance, and focus on product (“don’t expect many logos or celebrity at the new Bottega,” says Vogue).

image via Something Navy / Nordstrom

Arielle Charnas, the super influencer –On a single day in September, Arielle Charnas brought in $4 million in sales for Nordstrom. It was the debut drop of her permanent Something Navy collection with the retailer, a seamless extension of 10-year old Something Navy blog and her highly-followed Instagram account, where she boasts 1.2 million followers, who are said to range in age from 13 to 60 years old.

For years, much of Charnas’ work was centered on helping to build awareness and sales for others’ brands; as of late last year, she welcomed “over 300 other paid partnerships” to date, according to the Observer, including “six-figure deals” with the likes of TRESemmé. More recently, though, her rapidly expanding universe has centered in large part on her own brand in partnership with Nordstrom. Starting out exclusively with a one-off collab, a website crash and smash success later, the two parties were discussions about the next steps. Now, there are regular Something Navy collection drops and a growing number – and type – of offerings.

Between Charnas’ wildly-dedicated following – which is largely tied to her largely fuss-free approach to fashion (as long as you can handle the heels) – and her willingness to truly bring her followers into her life, whether it be Something Navy brand meetings, date night with her husband, or play time with her two young daughters, and her track record of turning Instagram numbers into actual shoppers, it is not surprising that she has been dubbed the “future of fashion.”