French label Y/Project pursues its success story on all fronts
Y/Project is going strong, as shown by the French label’s stunning spring/ summer 2019 collection, bursting with unexpected details and sundry experimental features. Glenn Martens, 35, who took charge of Y/Project in 2013 and went on to win the ANDAM Prize in 2017 with it, is definitely one of fashion’s most interesting emerging designers, and one of the most appreciated. Y/Project is currently distributed via 150 multibrand clients worldwide, with a revenue of €7 million and sales growing at a rate between 20% and 30% each season.
“Everything exploded after our first womenswear show, in February 2016. The label is well-liked because the range is eclectic, featuring streetwear, tailored looks, lingerie, denim and more. Our clothes are painstakingly constructed. We have a studio with seven people working at pattern development. Everything is handled internally. And with four collections per year, there’s a lot of work to do,” said Martens to FashionNetwork.com.
Martens is a busy man, but he found the time to take a peek at the emerging labels at Parisian showroom Designers Apartment, where Y/Project showed for five seasons, before taking off on its own. Martens did a collaboration with Diesel in June, and on Monday evening he was at the l’Eclaireur concept store for the launch of the Ugg + Y/Project capsule collection. And there is more.
Martens recently introduced his very first handbag and eyewear lines, both debuting at the Spring/Summer 2019 show at the Paris Fashion Week: a series of crystal-effect plastic clutch bags, and some quirky accordion-like bags, easy to enlarge or fold up. The handbags have been developed internally in collaboration with Isa Kauffman from IFM, and are made in Italy, while the sunglasses are a collaborative effort with Linda Farrow.
“The idea is to complete the range little by little. To do so, we expanded our team and we organised ourselves by specialisation, while previously everyone did a little bit of everything,” said Martens, who in a few years has surrounded himself with a small community of 25 people, many of them working freelance. He recently hired someone to look after streetwear, while shoes are handled by Gabrielle Beau, jewellery by Stéphanie d’Heygère and embroidery by Emilie Melden.
The collection presented last Thursday consisted of forty-eight looks, for forty-eight different women. “We love diversity, and we celebrate it through our brand. We will never do a traditional t-shirt, in the same way that we will never do a dress just because it looks nice. There’s always an extra twist, an amusing detail in Y/Project clothes,” said Glenn Marten. Y/Project won over the audience at the show with an inventive, highly feminine wardrobe, both playful and glam, featuring the label’s staples (among them, the skirt which morphs into leggings, denim briefs worn over nylon tights, double-layered jackets and trompe-l’œil jeans), as well a plethora of novelties.
“I’m obsessed with the idea of novelty in clothes,” said Martens, smiling. This season, he had fun combining push-up bras with a classic grey fleece sweatshirt with a generous, heart-shaped plunging neckline. The same to be found in a thin-strapped petal-like dress or a cardigan.
Another quirky detail is the zigzag shape of the straps in some of the dresses, tops or sweaters. A sophisticated Prince of Wales-check suit is shorn of the shoulders, replaced by a corset top festooned with an organza garland looking like a feather boa. And the V-neck in a sweater is replicated at the waist of a matching skirt or trousers.
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