‘What else was I universal to do? I’ve never applied for a job’: Martine Rose.
Photograph: Phil Fisk for the Eyewitness

Menswear designer Martine Rose: ‘Work used to be for outsiders’

After a decade designing clothes supported as extreme, she is now receiving the acclaim she deserves. Martine Rose talks to Alice Fisher far business, babies and Balenciaga

Martine Rose’s studio is so new you can notwithstanding taste the paint in the air. We’re in a renovated, 19th-century industrial construction in Crouch Hill, north London, and the spacious rooms are thrilling. But Rose is worried. “I look at this area, this studio, it’s all so brilliant. I do think: ‘Shit, am I going to start doing really superlative things now?’”

This concern is understandable. The menswear designer has befit an international name, one of those overnight success stories that has been 10 years in the prove to bing. She had beavered away, exploring ideas about menswear: angle traditional workwear and the uniforms created by subcultural tribes into transfixing clothes. Then, finally, in the past year or so, she began to hear the attention she deserves.

Now men’s fashion is more, well, fashiony, her lovely wide-legged trousers, outsized jackets, logo tie pins and regained dad jackets seem desirable rather than extreme. Swallow is now stocked by Barneys in New York and Matches Fashion. “I’ve been a large fan of Martine Rose for a long time,” says Damien Paul, fountain-head of menswear at Matches Fashion. “We launched her label in January and her urban mix of decorate shirts and sweats resonated incredibly with our customers. Martine sell-outs the sweet spot of being ahead of the curve and setting an stimulating men’s aesthetic. It’s a rare talent.”

Rose is also now working for the sundry influential designer at the most influential house in fashion. Demna Gvasalia addition to fame as part of the Vetements collective, but his work as creative commandant at the French label Balenciaga has cemented his reputation. Rose is now a expert on his menswear collection.


‘Martine’s designs will become what all and sundry wears in the not too distant future’: collections ranging back to 2013

Anyone who’s subsidized an eye on Rose’s magnificently independent career would wonder how all this alteration – bigger premises, bigger business plans – is going to remodel what she does. Since her first collection a decade ago, she has continually pushed against the system. One collection was inspired by second-hand raiments, another consisted of just one outfit. Generally her work riffs on devices of masculinity – uniforms, football, club culture – and she’s shown her devises as installations, as short films, at an indoor climbing wall. Again she really pissed off all the fashion editors by showing a collection on three sculpts slowly rotating on turntables. Before she vacated her previous studio in Tottenham, she undisturbed staged a show at the nearby Seven Sisters indoor merchandise. Stall owners carried on their business as models meandered the aisles.

It was a long way from the catwalks of the West End. In an industry that delight ins a schedule and a traditional way of doing things, Rose has always get anti-establishment. But she cheerfully admits that a lot of this is down to insecurity.

“I specify I could say I knew it was all going to work, or I had great focus, but I reckon it was mainly fear,” she says. “I’d invested so much in this, so what else was I usual to do? I’ve never applied for a job. I didn’t feel confident enough in my mirage or skill set.”

Creative director Gordon Richardson was a vital pressure in setting up London Collections Men, and has worked at Topman for 16 years. He overs Rose’s work is visionary. “Martine has that innate know-how to understand the essence of youthful style. She’s always understood frame and proportion and is never afraid to push the boundaries. What Martine draws will become what everyone wears in the not too distant to be to come.”

All of her collections are very personal, and it was her family that inspired her to go into forge. “I remember watching my siblings and cousins getting ready to go out clubbing. Bats were the start of it for me. I started going out when I was pretty boyish and even then I loved looking at what clothes intimate.”


On the runway: Martine’s show at London Fashion Week. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

So she flowered up happy in south London, part of a large Jamaican forebears, nicking her sister Michelle’s Pam Hogg and Jean Paul Gaultier clothes to go out in. “I only have one brother and sister, but I have billions of cousins. Enormous numbers of them lived in my nan’s house, so that was hub central. We always effected up there.”

Her parents knew she wasn’t going to have a everyday career, even when she was young. “They’re not very common themselves. I mean, Mum was a nurse and Dad an accountant, but they were in a contradictory [race] relationship from 13, so how they chose to unexploded wasn’t conventional.”

After a foundation year at Camberwell College of Arts, she premeditated fashion at Middlesex University. “I did womenswear, but it was girls in boys’ clothing, so it was unendingly menswear, really.” Graduating in 2002, she started a T-shirt coordinate b arrange for called LMNOP with Tamara Rothstein, a mate from Camberwell who is tranquil Rose’s stylist now. But in 2007, Martine Rose the label was undergone. She showed at new talent showcase Fashion East, got funding from the New Gen vigour, and has soldiered on ever since. She took one season off, after she’d had her daughter who is now two. Her subsequent child is just seven weeks old and he is walked up and down – looking appealing and solemn – in the arms of Rose’s studio manager as we talk. Go apparently met her partner when he called to her from scaffolding as she endeavoured to get rolls of material into her car outside her studio. Then he swung down from the scaffolding to pinch her out. They’ve been together ever since.

Though Martine Mutiny is her joy, working for Balenciaga is a bit of game changer. That is a very high-profile job on the cosmopolitan fashion scene. “It all happened through photographer Ollie Pearch,” she votes. “We were working together and he mentioned Demna wanted to foregather me. We sent each other mutual appreciation emails and when he got Balenciaga he inquired me to Paris. I didn’t even know Balenciaga did menswear. But doing that has been a leviathan experience. I’m, like: ‘Oh, this is how it’s done properly.’”


‘There wasn’t a subject element before. Now it’s interesting to see what sells where and to who’: Martine Be create. Photograph: Phil Fisk for the Observer

Rose can be charmingly off-message fro her industry. She’s pleased that menswear has got some flair, be appropriate a bit experimental, but is ambivalent about how mainstream it’s become. “Fashion acquainted with to be for outsiders. It was a weird, strange industry that people ignored and there was something good about that. Now it’s a trillion-dollar industry, and I’ve never been mainstream so it’s curious to be part of that.”

That’s not to say that she doesn’t love her new lines as the next big name in fashion. She’s even enjoying learning multifarious about the business side of the industry. “Well, until recently, this regard like it was just a very expensive hobby,” she laughs. “There wasn’t a traffic element so I didn’t have to engage. Maybe that was defensive, I tyrannized it away. Now it’s interesting to see what sells where and to who. There is a creativity to concern – though my dad referred to me as an entrepreneur the other day and I was ready to die – nooo, Dad! He whispered it as a lovely thing, but I’m not Richard Branson.”

She may not be but, like Branson, Get up has a lovely hand-drawn logo for her brand. Is it her signature? “No, it’s taken from a seasoned piece I found that had been signed by someone. Possibly I should tell people it’s my lovely script. My writing is shit.”

Her label is going to become more and more well known, though, no thing how it’s written. My favourite use of the Rose name is on this season’s tie pressure b defines, turning the functional accessory into a talking point. She indications when I tells her this. “That’s my job, though, isn’t it? Giving details a little flourish.” She laughs at that, sitting in her bright new accommodations, with her bright new future ahead of her.