The Changemakers: The disruptors driving values-based industry evolution
Founder and creative director, Up Next Designer
Through the Instagram account Up Next Designer, public relations veteran Albert Ayal has established a global stage and launchpad for emerging designers. The account, which has garnered nearly a quarter million followers, has leveled the playing field for fashion outsiders while also catapulting the careers of creatives featured.
“I know the fashion world can seem daunting from the outside,” Ayal said. “I want Up Next to play a pioneering role in making fashion more accessible and inviting, so that burgeoning designers, stylists, editors and other style casters can feel inspired to chase their dreams in the industry.”
Among Up Next’s success stories is Barcelona-based label ONRUSHW23FH, worn by Irina Shayk and Addison Rae after being featured. Likewise, Kylie Jenner put L.A.-based Erika Maish on the map after Ayal connected her stylist with the designer.
To discover new, post-worthy talent, Ayal scours indie magazines, the social accounts of niche stylists and international influencers, and the work of students at fashion schools from Bangkok-based Silpakorn University to Central Saint Martins. Up Next’s followers have also proven reliable sources, with DMs often providing the names of designers behind its untagged styles. Up Next’s followers include the who’s who of the fashion community, from model Kaia Gerber to industry veteran Carine Roitfeld. Finally, young designers have begun tagging the account when posting pics of work they’re proud of, hoping to get noticed.
As for looks that make the cut, Ayal said he looks for “double-take-worthy ensembles” – things likely to make people stop scrolling on their feed. He also considers the level of craftsmanship, noting that featured pieces can be “subtle” and “don’t have to be wearable,” if they feature expert tailoring or unique details.
In addition to highlighting the work of new talent, Up Next provides insider looks at big fashion events through Ayal’s runway and street-style photos. And at least once a month, it hosts “Ask Me Anything” live events, putting influential fashion creatives like stylist Karla Welch in the hot seat. “I want to provide the next generation of fashion with all of the necessary tools to thrive in such a competitive industry,” he said.
Currently, Up Next is a one-man show, with Ayal continuing to take on PR projects including events while growing the business with paid posts for people “who want to get out there.” In September, Up Next had a presence at New York Fashion Week through a dedicated exhibit within Revolve’s biannual, mega-influencer-filled pop-up. The dedicated room featured 12 looks on mannequins by brands including NYC-based Grace Ling, launched in 2020.
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