"I have always been interested in fashion," Verschueren says. "My parents were both linguists, and they organized congresses all over the world — Mexico, China, South Africa, Australia. My brother and sister and I would go with them, and it was fascinating to see different ethnicities through the lens of fashion."

Alexandra Verschueren, Fashion Designer

At 22, Alexandra Verschueren has interned for Preen, Proenza Schouler, and Derek Lam. She’s been honored by a jury that included former Rochas creative director Olivier Theyskens and the International Herald Tribune’s fashion critic Suzy Menkes. And in the last six months, her graduate collection Medium has been fêted by Wallpaper magazine and the Mode Museum in her hometown of Antwerp. So why, when she applied to that city’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts straight out of high school, did no one expect she’d get in?
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Sister-and-brother team Georgie and Alex Cleary founded Alpha60 in Melbourne in 2005. The label's unofficial tagline is "sophisticated quirk" — the pair likes each piece to have some point of difference, something that sets it apart from the fashion norm. Photo by Annevi Petersson

Alpha60, Clothing Designers

When you're a graphic designer and an aircraft engineer with zero fashion training, and yet you find yourself becoming the go-to clothing line of Melbourne — worn by the likes of Patti Smith, LCD Soundsystem, and Jamie Oliver — you learn to get really good at improvising. And trusting your instincts. So it goes for Alex and Georgie Cleary, the brother-and-sister duo behind Alpha60, who base its designs not on fashion trends but on whatever random pop-culture reference they happen to be into at any given moment.
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A look from Kovin's Spring/Summer 2010 collection, shot at her parents' house in Pennsylvania. The fireplace in the background was custom-designed by her mother, and the table is by Ettore Sottsass.

Lauren Kovin, Clothing Designer

Lauren Kovin had one of those creatively privileged childhoods we all dream about: Her father was a graphic designer, her mother an interior designer who stocked their New Hope, Pennsylvania, home with Memphis furniture and modern art. Kovin spent more time in galleries than in shopping malls. An Avedon portrait of a nude Nastassja Kinski hung over the family’s dining room table. Heaven, right? Wrong.
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One of 10 knitting machines at the Eindhoven factory where Emily Hermans designs and produces custom textiles for her clothing line, MLY.

MLY by Emily Hermans

When Emily Hermans started her own clothing line in 2004, she did something kind of genius: She found a local knitwear factory in Eindhoven that would let her produce her own textile designs on its knitting machines, and then slowly convinced its owner to take her on as a partner. He would get equity in her line — MLY — and she could crank out prints to her heart’s content without paying a premium. There was only one catch.
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Almost everything the Iriarte sisters know about hand-tooling leather, they taught themselves. Four years later, "we're still not geniuses at it," says Sol. But you'd never know it — the bag line is doing well, and when we visited, the pair were in talks with their first American retailer.

Iriarte Iriarte, Clothing Designers

For more than three years, the Argentinean sisters Sol Caramilloni Iriarte and Carolina Lopez Gordillo Iriarte kept a design studio on the second floor of a building in Barcelona, handcrafting an eponymous line of leather bags in relative privacy. Sol, 32, was working part-time as a set designer for films; Carolina, 25, had just finished a year apprenticing under her friend Muñoz Vrandecic, the Spanish couture shoemaker. Called Iriarte Iriarte, it was a modest operation. Then in June, fate intervened.
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Freitag’s Zurich Headquarters

When you arrive in Zürich, you arrive with a few certainties: The trams will run like clockwork, the city will be spotless, and at least a third of the population, it seems, will be carrying a Freitag messenger bag. During my weeklong stay in Switzerland this spring, the Freitag bag — with its recycled truck-tarp shell, seatbelt strap, and inner-tube edging — began to seem something like a national accessory.
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