“I’ve never been interested in fashion. I’ve always been interested in how people interact with clothes” Martine Rose
“I’ve never been interested in fashion. I’ve always been interested in how people interact with clothes” declares London-based menswear designer Martine Rose.
Looking at her collections, and the way these are presented, this statement is no surprise at all. After having subverted the canons of menswear and having blurred the line separating streetwear from high-fashion runways, Martine Rose starts a new project collaborating with the undisputed sportswear giant: Nike. The collaboration consists in a limited-edition capsule collection, releasing in January, made of tracksuits, football shirts and three colorways for the re-interpretation of the iconic ‘middle-America’ sneaker, Nike Air Monarch.
And it’s right on the Anglo-American working class’ stereotypes that the collaboration seems to be based on. The constant of Rose’s work is to make the ordinary extraordinary and, this time again, she nailed it!
Regarding the clothing, iconic pieces of everyday apparel, are reinterpreted playing with proportions. The key pieces are tracksuits, like the ones you can find at JD sports, those comfy pants you can’t wait to put on when you get back home but that, sometimes, if matched with the right top, you can also flash on a Friday night at the upcoming rave. Hence, an undiscussed must-have of the British wardrobe.
The designer’s always been fascinated by the sportswear world, this time she focuses on basketball players: “Basketball players are superhuman — their bodies have formed in different ways because of their profession. We looked at a lot of players and their proportions. We then re-imagined their clothes on average-size people. For example, if I were wearing one of their tracksuits, I would have to repurpose it in order to fit my proportions; I’d have to tuck the seams”. The details on the wrinkled sleeves of the tops proposed, for example, are one of the ways the designer’s fantasies come real in this collection.
Also the sneakers have a similar starting point: everything evolves around distorting proportions. The shape obtained was researched following the same method applied to the apparel – turning a size 19 into a size 9. Martine Rose, studied pieces from the Nike archive and molds of basketball players feet: the result is a unique transformation of the classic American “dad shoe”, the Nike Air Monarch.
“When we started, we never just followed the rules, really because our access was blocked. For one reason or another we had to find different ways to show”
The piece was deformed, adding bulges on the side and a back flap coming out at the back, all this topped up by stretch synthetic leather. Only one other shoes presents a similar construction, another characteristic American sneaker, the Nike Foamposite.
Martine Rose’s Air Monarch is available in three color ways: pastel pink, white and blue, and black.
But there’s more to add. For the collection’s launch (happening in January), the designer chose a platform as original as her collection’s design: Craig’s List, the network dedicated jobs, events, purchases, meeting and services listings. Instead of queuing for hours outside a store in Soho, the three individuals stocking the collection have been carefully selected by Rose. Among them, Steve, father of 7 sons and grandad of 21 grandchildren living in north London, in the same neighborhood where Martine Rose hosted the presentation of her SS19 collection; Tesfa, the 19-year-old Nike trainers obsessive, and Suraya, photography student who likes to race ferrets.
The designer defined her initiative an extension of her way of working: finding interesting platforms and new ways of creating clothes and events. She finds a certain democracy within the platform, something new, that she really likes. “Neither Nike nor I ever done anything like this before”, giggles Rose, defining her initiative a love letter to her city, London, where she wanted Londoners and a more varied fashion community to come together.