Do you remember those beyond-cute macramé-detailed bikinis that just about every chic girl seemed to be flooding your Instagram with last summer? How about those candy-colored faux-fur coats that are equal parts adorable and cool, seen on the likes of Alexa Chung and a ton street style stars?
Those are just two of the many gems that you can thank Roberta Benteler for. No, she’s not the designer for swimwear line, Kinii, or outerwear brand, Shrimps, which we’re referencing above—but she is the one who put both of those brands on the map—or rather, the geotag.
Allow us to explain. The German-born, London-based Benteler has long been obsessed with fashion, but what’s more is that she has a gift that we like to call “the scent.” Benteler can sniff out the next It Bag, It Brand, and even It Girl, before designers and fashion folk get plugged in. Luckily for every style-savvy woman out there, the 30-year-old is putting her powers of fashion fortune-telling to good use, with her e-commerce site, Avenue 32.
Benteler travels the globe to discover new design talents, but she’s also always scouring Instagram for new brands to bring to her site. It’s rife with colorful, unique, and of-the-moment finds from the likes of Vika Gazinskaya, Cédric Charlier, and Galvin (and not to worry if those names aren’t familiar to you yet; give it some time and you can bet your feed will be flooded with them soon). She discovered Kinii when she saw it on Instagram, and acted fast, becoming their first-ever retailer. “When we met Ipek [Irgit], she was the designer in a little showroom in New York City, she had just started making them and none of us had any idea of how big the brand would get in such a short space of time,” Benteler told Glamour. “The designs are incredibly visually striking and caught my eye immediately.”
Bar Refaeli in her Kinii bikini. The style has also been worn by fashion trendsetters Leandra Medine, Dree Hemingway, Hannah Bronfman, and Cara Delevingne.
Shrimps, too, was a fascinating find, and shows just how much a great retailer can influence designers themselves. “In Shrimps’ case, Hannah [Weiland] walked into the Avenue 32 office wearing her first-ever shrimps coat,” Benteler recounted. “She was an intern at another designer and dropped something off—we saw her coat and instantly ordered 50 of them!”
Marta Pozzan, Alexa Chung, and Kate Foley wearing Shrimps coats.
How did she hone her eye, or yes, “the scent”? Some of it is inherent, but what makes Benteler able to turn her fashion obsession into something you can actually buy is that, in addition to going to fashion school, she also began her career in the staid, suited world of finance. “Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to start my own business,” said Benteler. “Coming from a family of entrepreneurs and fashion being my first love, it was naturally what I gravitated toward. Although I did go through phases where I wanted to become a fashion designer and have my own label. Who knows, maybe as a next project!”
Today, with Avenue 32, she’s aiming to take the rush of excitement she gets when she finds new talents to shoppers across the globe. “[I want] to bring back the element of discovery to shopping,” she said. “I feel like a treasure hunter when I am looking for new brands for the site and that is how I would like our clients to feel when they discover the brands on Avenue 32.”
That said, we asked Benteler to make some fashion predictions for the upcoming spring season and she opened up her top-secret photo album to us (some pieces are so new, they haven’t even been professionally photographed yet!). Get your thumbs ready to like:
Peter Pilloto’s Dreamy Midi Dresses
Pascal’s Delicate Dresses
Sonia Rykiel’s Studded Bucket Bag
Bright Pieces from Roksanda Ilincic
Tabitha Simmons’ Hermione Flats
More: Click here for more spring trends!
Now, take a look at spring’s prettiest trends in motion:
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