Sportswear and suiting married together with translucent coating and pockets for all of your possessions, we’re keeping an eye on Clara Martin’s designs.
Middlesex University grad Clara Martin is a name to learn. After flirting with themes of childhood nostalgia for her 2013 graduate collection, she’s moved into the competitive luxury sportswear arena for SS16 but Martin can hold her own. With boxy silhouettes, loose cuts, pastel shades and a pic n mix selection of materials on offer in the line she showed at LC:M SS16, there’s still a fondness for youth in the strawberry sherbet tones and schoolboy shorts but everything’s been pared down for wearability this season.
We caught up with the designer to talk about past collections, her design process and dreams of dressing everyone’s favourite royal, Prince Harry.
How old were you when you realised you wanted to be a designer?
It wasn’t really until college, when I was doing my A-Levels, that I realized that I wanted to become a designer. When I was younger, I hated sewing!
Both your parents are designers too, did they encourage you to design when growing up?
My mother and grandmother are actually the designers in my family, and although I am fully supported now, it wasn’t their career of choice for me. My mum wanted me to become a lawyer!
What drew you to menswear, and do you think you’d ever cross over to womens?
I love menswear because I feel like you can be more creative, and there is so much that hasn’t been done yet! For me, I don’t see enough playfulness in menswear, and I see that as a challenge, which I love to take on.
You focus on feelings of nostalgia when working, can you talk us through your design process?
I love to have references in my research that others can quickly relate to. I think when designing clothes that aren’t entirely conventional, there needs to be something that people can understand, and for me that is childhood.
What message did you want to get across with the collection?
This collection is about expressing yourself with more wearable pieces that simultaneously act as standout pieces. I want men to understand the idea of wearable concept – clothes that hold a deeper meaning beyond just being an item of clothing and to also feel excited by wearing colour.
You seem to be completely reinventing the suit into something more playful and fun, what made you want to give it a makeover?
I feel like a lot of menswear needs updating, and for me, having a contemporary feel to the classics, as we know them, is a way of doing it. I play around with matching sets this collection, like my Jordy tracksuit and the Nathan tees and Fedell shorts. It’s a sort of nod to sportswear but also an attempt at carving out a new lane with mens casualwear.
You’ve experimented with 2D shapes becoming 3D through panels, construction and knit for collections – why did you decide to use such bold techniques and fabrics?
Fabric manipulation is a part of playfulness and is also a nod to my personal childhood, which I remember, being a blur of play-doh and sugar paper! I approach every collection thinking about fabrics and the feel of the silhouette first, so there is often a lot of sampling with glue, paper and felt tips.
Who is the ultimate ‘Clara Martin’ pin-up guy?
I don’t think I have one yet, but I would love to dress Jaden Smith or somebody like Prince Harry. I think he’d understand the brand.
Describe your latest collection in three words.
Energetic, playful, luxury.
Your AW15 collection has a boy scout vibe going on, what was the inspiration and meaning behind this collection?
My younger foster brother was my muse for AW15, and it was about the juxtaposition of a hot-tempered young man being put through the process and discipline of Boy Scouts. I used many textures and different fabrics, suede, merino wool, patent leather, cottons and silks and focused on branding and making creative clothes luxurious. Almost like refining a wild creative.
You chose to use more muted colours, in comparison to your SS15 collection where you used bright bold ones, why was this?
I use colour to represent the mood of my collections, and I guess AW15 had a somewhat darker tone in comparison to my SS15. The reds and blues of the Spring Summer 2015 collection were to demonstrate a new technique with knit, where I used hair weave as fabric. I wanted a bright and attractive collection and to also use knitwear in a different form within menswear.
Direction & Photography: Rhys Frampton
Production Assistants: Assist London
Editing: Chris Sharrock
Film: Arash at Assist London
Styling: Way Perry
Styling Assistant: Vincent Pons
Grooming: Ben Jones
Grooming Assistant: Joshua
Models: Lewis Bryant, Ollie Pallister, David Frampton, Jakub, Jeremy Matos all at SUPA Model Management