Design Theory: How Up Next Designer Is Finding the Next Big Thing in Fashion

The fashion industry is always searching for which designer is going to be the next big thing, and Instagram account @UpNextDesigner has become the go-to resource to find just that.

Up Next Designer was created by fashion publicist Albert Ayal to spotlight emerging designers and fashion students from across the world to give them the media exposure that’s typically given to larger brands.

“I would do a lot of research based on all the brands I work with and I would find all of these unique brands and I’d reach out to them,” Ayal said. “Everyone had a different story, but sort of the same small business struggles. I started UND just by regularly posting these brands I thought were cool and spoke to me and the following just grew and turned into this place where fashion stylists, editors, designers and celebrities could come together and celebrate young emerging talent.”

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Ayal curates the Instagram account based off of his own research of up-and-coming designers. He regularly looks to fashion schools to find talent and connects with the students to follow their progress and share their work. He also gives a closer look at many of the designers through Instagram Stories, posting “day in the life” content or videos at the designers’ studios.

While Up Next Designer launched several years ago, it’s gotten a surge of interest in the last few months as many celebrities and stylists have started following the account. Ayal stated one of his biggest and earliest follows was from Kylie Jenner, which he got when the account had roughly 5,000 followers. Now, Up Next Designer boasts more than 95,000 followers.

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With a large, steadily growing following, Ayal has achieved his mission of bringing attention to these emerging designers. He said the designers have coined the phrase the “up next effect,” which is when their designs are featured on the account and they get inundated with messages and purchases from customers and stylists.

“It’s so exciting for me to post somebody and just watch what happens,” Ayal said. “When I post a designer, they show me their messages and who reaches out. The feeling I have watching these designers get the recognition they deserve and the attention they deserve is unreal.”

Ayal also uses the account to make connections between the designers and celebrity stylists. Through Up Next Designer, celebrities like Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Cardi B, Normani and many others have connected with emerging designers to wear the clothing during major events or appearances.

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His connection with Kylie Jenner began when he connected her team with Los Angeles-based fashion designer Erika Maish for a beaded matching set. Jenner posted a photo of herself on vacation wearing the look, and according to Ayal, Maish was flooded with requests for the look.

“Her DMs were flooded,” Ayal said. “She was like, ‘Albert, I was giving up yesterday. I love the fabric, but I can’t afford it.’ That was really cool to see because it changed her life.”

Most recently, Ayal connected with Cardi B and Normani’s stylist, Kollin Carter, for the cover art for the musicians’ single, “Wild Side.” Cardi B and Normani were seen wearing matching blue sculptural dresses by Brooklyn-based fashion designer Kim Mesches.

Ayal plans to continue spotlighting emerging talent through the Up Next Designer Instagram page, but he also has plans to expand the platform into its own website that he hopes can serve as a database for followers, stylists and editors to find emerging designers in a directory that’s categorized by country and region and offers more information about each designer.

“It’s a lot of work, but it keeps me happy and makes me feel good about myself to give back to the fashion community,” he said. “Giving back to these designers and helping them grow, it’s awesome.”

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