After winning the prestigious 2020 Andam Fashion Award having been a finalist and winner in 2017, Glenn Martens, the artistic director behind the French brand Y/Project, is continuing his prodigal ascent by bringing to life his versatile quirky collections and exciting future. Let’s find out more.
What could be a bigger challenge than breathing new life into a label whose image is famous for coming straight from a recently deceased mind? Feu Yohan Serfaty launched y/Project in 2008 and the menswear brand has been showing collections since 2010. Serfaty’s assistant, Glenn Martens from Belgium, was made artistic director in 2013 and is taking the brand down a new avenue. He has a brand in mourning on his shoulders. Despite the tough times, the top-of-the-class Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts graduate has put his stamp on Y/Project history.
The Bruges-born blonde worked at Jean-Paul Gaultier’s studio before collaborating with Weekday and Honest By Bruno Pieters and still has lots to do win the fashion world’s praises. Glenn Martens has left his own brand’s work behind him and slowly distancing himself from Yohan Serfaty’s signature dark and melancholic world with the support of Gilles Elalouf, the brand’s owner. So he’s brought in the first women’s collections and established a refreshing unisex philosophy. Although there are two distinct collections, menswear and womenswear, both feature a fair amount of the same wardrobe (around 40%).
His Catholic education has given him an understanding of classic design in which he blends his fascination for Flemish architecture with his love for urban and underground cultures. The results are incredibly smart when Glenn Martens injects his pieces with the spirit of inclusivity and diversity. “For Christmas I gave my grandmother a Y/Project coat, which she loves and wears. A friend of mine has a similar coat. When clothes are not connected to gender and age and still work, then fashion is relevant,” he told our colleagues at SSense. And as unlikely as it may seem, the designer seems to have pulled it off with flying colours. His brand’s clothes have been seen on everyone from the Migos rapper Offset to the 52 year old Quebec diva Celine Dion.
The Y/Project collections play on layering, opulence and historical references constantly combined with in-depth thought about the assembly and sewing techniques. For example, Glenn Martens gives garments a metallic structure, piping for a 3D effect, zips or buttons so you can change the look and suit it to any personality. One of his last major collections was unveiled in July. “Evergreen” features sixteen brand signatures, from SS17 to FW20, updated with exclusively organic and recycled fabrics.
The digital show was all about shopping less but smart and presented the many possibilities and roles the pieces could have. This strategy sees the Y/Project open a new chapter themed to reflect the designer’s image: honest, ethical, creative and eclectic. “We are privileged to work in a luxury business. We have the luxury of time to think, which entitles us a responsibility. Y/Project wants to take part in the change, building a better future.”