If you’re aware of a current shake-up of the Paris fashion scene, you definitely know about Y/Project. We’re at the Browns store on South Molton Street, meeting with Glenn Martens, the Belgian-born, Paris-based designer behind the brand. He is here to showcase his Spring Summer 2017 collection and talk about the brand’s takeover of the boutique – with store windows and an in-store pop-up shop getting a temporary Y/Project makeover.
The Y/Project pop-up store at Browns
With a “carte blanche from Browns” as Martens called it, the store displays are re-styled with refined graffiti-like collage prints. “The whole idea was to take it over from outside, tag the shop and then scratch it off, so you’re left with that visual in the end,” the designer tells us. The indoor part of the windows and the pop-up shop are furnished with plywood boards forming installations with Y/Project pieces tied to them against fresh flowers standing atop.
Experimental techniques in street forms
When it comes to creating collections, Martens insists specific design elements usually weave throughout a collection instead of traditional thematic narratives. “There’s always a percentage of the collection which is really a constructive experiment,” he says. In the see-now, buy-now world, there’s a great deal of focus targeted towards items that can stand together without looking mismatched or disoriented in the season or space. Since designing for Y/Project, Glenn established pieces that have become a street-style statement and hence appear in all collections. Cue the long-leg jeans - you can wear them cuffed to your thighs or ruched around your ankles, but always with a certain sense of fun.
The brand's Spring Summer 2017 collection is available for preorder at Browns
Without being overtly ironic, Glenn uses the word “fun” a lot – both in our conversation and in his work. On top of his signature play on denim, all of the clothes radiate a great real-world quality, completely in-touch with the genderly uninhibited market of the moment.
Y/Project Autumn Winter 2016 on sale now
“We use exactly the same pieces,” says Glenn when explaining his method of assembling collections, with around 50% of every season being shown in both menswear and womenswear shows. Collections are reviewed individually which means the same clothes get different treatment depending on their context.
The Antwerp Bubble
While talking about the influence of his education on the his current work, Martens emphasizes the differences between the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp he attended and the London institutions like Central Saint Martins. “We don’t have internships, so we are actually really living in a bubble during the four years of Bachelors and Masters and therefore fully focusing on our personal identities,” he tells us. “You see a Margiela next to a Dries van Noten next to an A.F. Vandervorst which are all very, very different in their aesthetics, but then again, it’s all about the concept.”
Glenn Martens in front of the Browns windows
Glenn’s rhetoric is nothing but eloquent, yet he never takes his work too seriously. Both his words and clothes carry a sense of positive energy and easiness that is generally lacking in the industry of the moment. There’s a vibrant buzz about Y/Project which absolutely justifies the designer’s statement - “I really want someone to have fun with it.” We know we definitely would.
The Y/Project in-store pop-up is on at Browns, 24-27 South Molton Street boutique in London until 24th October.
Text by Dino Bonacic