Albert Ayal, founder and creative director of Up Next Designer, has an unparalleled eye for spotting the next style star. Here, the ultimate industry insider shares his take.
The fashion flock has a new man on the inside. Former public relations veteran Albert Ayal is breaking down the infamous insular walls of the industry by elevating emerging talent on his Instagram platform, Up Next Designer, to help them build their brands. His followers include everyone from Kaia Gerber and Kylie Jenner to Carine Roitfeld as the glitterati looks for what’s up next in terms of talent discovery.
Iconic checked in with the sartorial scout—who recently expanded his community to include a column for “Business of Fashion” that spotlights emerging talent—to get an inside look.
Iconic Collection: How do you hope what you do supports a more inclusive industry?
Albert Ayal: I hope that Up Next Designer supports a more inclusive industry by making fashion—a world that can seem exclusive and daunting from its exterior—feel more welcoming, fun, and, of course, exciting. I want to uplift the next generation of talent, not only designers but also stylists, writers, photographers, editors, and other style-focused creatives, by highlighting their work, providing them with as much valuable industry insight as possible and offering a friendly front-row look inside fashion’s red-roped world. Additionally, it’s no secret that establishing a design label can be a lot to take on financially. I want to help newcomers, who maybe don’t come from money or advantageous backgrounds, accomplish their goals of breaking into fashion.
IC: Where do you scout and discover talent these days?
AA: I look at practically every single fashion school across the globe to see what their graduating classes are presenting, and I connect with students whose work catches my eye. I like to look at the work of niche stylists and explore the fashion credits inside indie magazines for names I’m not familiar with. I’ll look at the brands that influencers in different countries are wearing, and I’ll also look to more local fashion week presentations for rising talent. Sometimes, I’ll find amazing talent by simply checking who’s following me.
IC: What influences your personal sense of style?
AA: I’m personally inspired by so many people—in terms of more mainstream celebrities, I would say Devin Booker, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Timothée Chalamet. Collectively, they all have a strong pulse on fashion. They each emulate the relaxed-yet-refined look that I enjoy, and their stylists do a great job of selecting cutting-edge looks that not only align with their individual styles but also influence menswear at large. Now being on social media, I’m also inspired by Wisdom Kaye and Andrew Georgiades. They both possess this innate ability to seamlessly pair mix-and-matched, high-end pieces with ease.
IC: Who were or are your main style influences (both early and current)?
AA: I’m tapping into my editorial skill set with my own column at “Business of Fashion,” and I’m taking on a lot more independent styling.
IC: Any other projects or news that we can share?
AA: I would describe my personal sense of style as casually elevated—I like pieces with a lighthearted sense of sophistication, but nothing too serious. I’m always scrolling through SSENSE and MR PORTER, looking for quality pieces to add to my personal closet. I wear a lot of button-downs, both short-sleeve and long-sleeve, and I love oversized tops. JACQUEMUS is definitely a standout brand for me, but I also enjoy finding cool tops from both well-established and up-and-coming brands alike. In the winter, I gravitate toward long jackets, sweaters, and turtlenecks— I’m a big fan of AMI Paris for those. In the summer, I wear a lot of Onia swimwear, and on a casual day, I’m in a Madhappy sweatsuit. I love hats, specifically bucket hats, and I normally have a pair of sunglasses on me. As for shoes, I’m currently loving New Balance.
NULLUS OFFICAL – @nullus.official
JUSTIN GALL – @justinmichaelgall
MOKOO – @mokoo_official
FIGI STUDIOS – @figi.studios
N PALMER – @npalmerstudio
YING KONG – @0818kyl
MAI-GIDAH – @maigidah
EMEERREE – @emeerree.studio
AARON ESH – @aaron.esh