The creative director of Y/Project is part of Paris’s new guard of fashion designers spearheading the streetwear revolution, infusing humour into conceptual, forward-thinking collections.
Taking what started out as a men’s label under late founder Yohan Serfaty in 2010, Martens expanded into womenswear, slowly introducing his own codes into the house. Today, Y/Project is one of the most anticipated shows at Paris fashion week, with its finger firmly on the pulse of the city’s dynamic new wave.
Originally from Bruges, Belgium, with a degree in interior architecture, Martens stumbled upon fashion by accident. After applying to the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp with nothing more than a few sketches — feeling too young to enter the professional world — Martens was accepted, and graduated first in his class.
After finishing his studies, Martens was offered a role at Jean Paul Gaultier as junior designer for the women’s pre-collection and his menswear label G2. In 2012, he started his eponymous label, which made its debut at Paris Fashion Week, and ran for three seasons.
Martens had been working as first assistant to Y/Project creative director and founder Yohan Serfaty. After Serfaty passed away in April 2013, his business partner Gilles Elalouf convinced Martens to take the helm of the label.
In a few seasons, the Rick Owens -inspired menswear label turned into a brand worn by millennials and A-listers alike. Streetwear is infused with unisex pieces, in collections that echo the conceptual spirit of Belgian designers. Y/Project’s current appeal, that saw Martens craft a suit for Rihanna, lies in the intersection of offbeat references and a singular vision.
In 2017 Martens was awarded the ANDAM prize, winning $280,000 and a year-long mentorship from Francesca Bellettini , CEO and president of Yves Saint Laurent . It comes as Y/Project is moving into its next stage, with new factory partners in France and Portugal to keep up with growth.