Whereas in the past, MARTAN focused on intricate fashion concepts and beautifully handmade showpieces, the brand now turns over a new page and will show a glimpse of its new sustainable ready-to-wear line during Amsterdam Fashion Week. The Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam will lend its impressive décor to the MARTAN show on Wednesday August 31st. We sat down with Diek Pothoven and new co-owners of the brand: Eugénie Haitsma Mulier and Douwe de Boer for a full scope on the future of the renewed MARTAN.
In April, MARTAN announced that it would move away from its conceptual project-based nature and focus on a sustainable ready-to-wear line. Where does this switch come from?
Diek: “We started MARTAN six years ago with large productional and abstract portfolio stunts at its core. The idea behind this, was that we wanted to make a name for ourselves first before selling any products. First you have to get to know the industry and work on brand awareness, and then you can start selling stuff. We have been working on this for a long time and we feel that we are finally ready. The climate within the industry has also changed so much during this period of time, so if we’re going to produce in large numbers, we believe that sustainability should be the leading focus.”
Douwe: “I also think that in those five to six years it was nice to be able to develop an artistic visual language, from which we can now draw inspiration for our ready-to-wear collection. We went all out within our creative ideas and now we can easily translate them into wearable items.”
Diek: “It’s not like MARTAN’s DNA disappears, on the contrary, it’s been taken to the next level and has become more exciting than ever before. There is still room for special projects in which we can express our artistic freedom. These two pathways complement each other, they live side by side in harmony. From a creative duo racing from project to project, we are now a serious and mature company with a future plan that is not project driven.”
Not only did the focus of MARTAN shift, the composition of the team has also changed! Can you tell me about the new co-owners Eugénie Haitsma Mulier from Archivist Studio and designer Douwe de Boer?
Eugénie: “I have a legal background but always knew I wanted to work in fashion. I wrote my thesis about sustainability in the fashion industry from a legal perspective and that’s what got the ball rolling. At my first job, as marketeer for Zalando in Berlin, I saw the fashion industry from multiple aspects and because of this I also discovered many sustainable fashion brands. One day, I wondered what happens to a hotel’s bedlinen when they are no longer in use. Through the help of a friend, I started collecting sheets from hotels and decided to use them as a base material for my new brand: Archivist Studio. It took a while to get the production process on point, and we soon noticed that the minimalist styles we held onto were quite limited. Inherently I’m not a designer, so I don’t have an overview of the design possibilities. When I met Diek we immediately clicked, decided to collaborate on a new design, and that was the first Archivist shirt that embraced a more exciting appearance. This created clarity surrounding the possibilities of our collaboration.”
Diek: “We all have our individual skills yet we understand each other very well. Therefore, we complement each other perfectly. I am very glad to have Douwe as co-creative director and Eugénie is, as head of sustainability, responsible for the circular production cycle and continues Archivist’s innovative mindset within the vision of MARTAN.”
Douwe: “Diek and I got to know each other during our time at ArtEZ University of the Arts. As soon as I graduated, I started working at MARTAN. After growing within the company I am proud to be one of the co-owner’s now.”
The new ready-to-wear line is made entirely of hotel linen and restaurant tablecloths from the Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam, where the show will also take place. Archivist Studio has been using these materials as the basis for their designs from the very beginning. How was it for you Diek to work with an entirely new material? And will this way of working become the new way of creating at MARTAN?
Diek: “We actually thought it was a super fun challenge. It makes it both easier and harder for a designer. Easier, because the most complicated aspect of designing is finding the perfect fabrics and materials. You basically cross out an entire headache-inducing aspect of the process. By experimenting with the same material, you create a focus, a grip, and you learn how versatile you can be as a designer. It removed a lot of unnecessary noise for us.”
Douwe: “You can find so many different materials within the spectrum of hotel linen. It’s wider than you think. We also change the fabrics ourselves by painting, screen printing, patching. Ultimately, you create endless options with the base you have.”
Diek: “We are discovering more and more types of hotel linen with each its own qualities. Currently, the majority of the fabrics we use are from the Amrât Hotels, in addition, this is supplemented with deadstock materials. Because we’re fortunate to show in Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam, we really wanted to use their hotel linen as to create a full-circle momentum. Converting recycled materials into clothing as a basis is our newly shared vision and so we will continue to implement this way of making.”
Amsterdam Fashion Week is the first show moment of the renewed MARTAN. What can we expect?
Diek: “The Scheepvaarthuis was built a 100 years ago as a result of the great success from Amsterdam shipping companies, companies that sold boat tickets during the rise of major tourism in the roaring 20s when the public first started planning large boat trips to explore the world. Due to the enormous growth of these shipping companies, they wanted to build the most impressive building in Amsterdam, which is the Scheepvaarthuis, now known as the Amrâth hotel. Based on these roaring 20s that we have now re-entered after a very cold period, we show a version of this turbulent time a 100 years later in a building that was created based on the same sentiment, but with the aesthetics of today. The show will take the public to all the beautiful rooms in the hotel. It really is one of the best buildings in Amsterdam, a true Gesamtkunstwerk where not one design choice is left to chance; from the fencing to the bricks. That’s what is so special about it, it is one large collective work of art and that fits very well with MARTAN’s vision.”