IN CONVERSATION WITH MARTAN
interview by REBECCA KAPENGA
During the latest edition of Amsterdam Fashion Week, Dutch fashion label MARTAN opened AFW with a surprising show in Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam. The venue is an iconic building in the city center of Amsterdam and has a rich history as the old ‘Shipping House’. A beautiful opportunity for the Dutch brand, as one of their main focuses is turning waste textiles from the luxury hotel industry into playful contemporary outfits.
Filmmakers Jip Mus and Jesse Kroon from Jump Studio got the mission to capture the intriguing fashion show and tell a story behind the entire collection. The label presents a collection made from recycled hotel linen, such as damask tablecloths and Egyptian cotton sheets. It consists of stylish colourful pieces with geometrically draped sleeves and organic-symmetrical rope constructions. The film takes the viewer through different time units and phases of a journey and sheds light on each individual story for a quick second.
Numero had the honour to interview MARTAN and the filmmakers Jip Mus and Jesse Kroon for the fashion film that is now being released.
For our readers who don’t know MARTAN yet, could you give a little more information about the brand? What are their values and what is the overall inspiration for the brand?
M: MARTAN is a circular fashion brand that transforms linen from the luxury hotel industry into colourful and surprising outfits. The brand explores where ready-to-wear and art meet and sustainability in fashion becomes self-evident. The key figures behind the brand are founder Diek Pothoven and co-owners Douwe de Boer and Eugénie Mulier.
The main focus is on our ready-to-wear collection. Every season we present exciting new styles, prints, and colours like you would expect from any other brand, but in innovative upcycled materials. We keep improving and updating our signature MARTAN classics to new standards and needs as a solid and recognisable base. And next to that, just like how car brands present their future concept cars, we have our artisanal/couture line for brand visibility and to show the world what is possible with our materials. We want to inspire people to think big and show that there are no limitations if you use your creativity to its full potential. By having this artisanal collection, we force ourselves to keep pushing boundaries that result in innovations to be used in our ready-to-wear line.
The film is based on the new collection that was showcased at AFW in the grand hotel Amrâth. Where did the idea of using the hotel come from? And how did the hotel influence the collection?
M: This season, all the puzzle pieces fell into place. Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam is an iconic building in the city, but few people know the inside. Because our collections are made entirely from upcycled hotel linen, the wild idea arose to collaborate with this world-famous hotel. The hotel was built 107 years ago entirely in the style of the Amsterdamse School as ‘The Shipping House’, which was built to be the most imposing building in the city. The most famous artists and architects of that area worked on this ‘gesamtkunstwerk’ so therefore all details are thought through and the perfect inspiration for a fashion collection. From the wood carvings to the silk wall panels, to the stained-glass windows to the fences around the building, everything is translated into the collection.
The collection is made of old fabrics from the hotel. How did you make sure this also became clear in the movie?
M: There is no heavy focus on this in the film. We want to show with our collections that you can make fashion that competes on a high-end level that also happens to be completely sustainable. At first glance, you should not even notice that it is upcycled.
What is the overall story that you want to portray with this film? And how did you want to portray this story visually?
JM & JK: We wanted to explore the boundaries of a fashion show and an editorial fashion film. We wanted to make the film feel like a journey itself; we start quite static with carefully composed shots and slowly move into a faster-paced edit, slowly revealing the surroundings and spectators. Everyone is on the move, going somewhere, and we tried to zoom into each individual story for a very brief moment. These individual moments we normally don’t experience in the chaos of a station for example.
What is the message the music and voice-over want to convey?
M: For this show and film we worked together with talented music composer Jelle Hoekstra. Jelle created an abstract collage of music pieces and texts by Nobel prize winner and writer Olga Tokarczuk and Thijs Hoekstra. The music takes
the viewer through various time units and phases of a journey, building up to an overwhelming finale in which all the models and actors, urged on by the horns of a departing ship, storm down the stairwell.
It looks like you filmed before and during the fashion show itself. Can you maybe tell me a little bit about the process of making the film?
JM & JK: Filming fashion shows can get quite intense as there is usually only a very short moment to capture months of hard work that was put into a collection. For this show, we had 3 different opportunities. This allowed us to be a little bit more experimental in our approach. Everything you see in the film is shot during the actual show with hundreds of people walking just out of frame. This was a challenge as we wanted to shoot with super wide lenses and stay close to the models. It was a bit of a dance with the models and their choreography. As the show progresses and the music intensifies, we slowly started showing more of the surroundings and the people visiting the show.
I see some familiar faces in the casting of the models. Was there a specific reason to use Dutch actors in the casting?
M: Because the location and story lent itself to so much more than a normal fashion show, we noticed that in addition to models, we also needed very good actors to convey it well. Working with theatre director Char Li Chung, we put together a diverse cast of top actors that we felt fit the scene. We also wanted to show that the clothes look beautiful on many body types.
Can you maybe give away already a little bit about the upcoming collection? And will there be another film?
M: For AW23/24 we are launching a new upcycled fabric that we are developing now. This is because the colder weather requires more thermal insulation than hotel linen. We are expanding our sustainable materials portfolio and optimizing the fabrics we use now. In terms of visual inspiration, as always, we are staying nice and nautical, but which direction exactly is still a secret. Film and MARTAN are inseparable, so the answer to that question is a resounding yes!