'I had no idea who Margiela was, I barely knew McQueen,' says Y/Project Creative Director Glenn Martens of his fashion knowledge when he began to study design at the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp a decade ago.
Originally from Bruges, Belgium, he had a degree in interior architecture under his belt but, feeling too young to enter the professional world, decided to give fashion design a go.
'I went to the interview with a portfolio full of chairs and furniture. I never thought about the fact I would have to sew,' he says from Y/Project's Paris studio. He graduated first in his class in 2008, walked straight into a job at John Paul Gaultier and also started an eponymous brand, which debuted at Paris Style Week in 2012 and ran for three seasons.
It was in 2013 that Martens heard from menswear brand Y/Project, which had been founded by Frenchman Yohan Serfaty and business partner Gilles Elalouf in 2010. Serfaty had passed away and Elalouf was looking for a new helmsman.
Martens added womenswear immediately and the brand's profile rocketed, becoming a regular go-to for Rihanna before appearing on the backs, legs and arms of celebrities including Beyoncé and Hailey Baldwin.
The label has been credited with sparking the sense of revolution that's currently happening within the industry, alongside fellow French brands like Vetements and Jacquemus, all of whom have broken through the strict Parisian system once solely ruled by older, iconic houses.
'We ask customers to think about what they see,' Martens says of Y/Project. 'We ask them what they want to own, and what they want to become.'
The SS17 collection is full of adaptable pieces in celebration of women in the world. 'There's streetwear next to velvet cocktail dresses, next to unisex pieces. We take inspiration from wherever we want, whether its from subculture or a historical era. It's an eclectic melting pot.'
The next step for the brand is to add footwear and accessories, but Martens wants to keep the fun factor. ' I hope people can see that there are a lot of jokes and personality in the clothes. Inside any company, you need fun, or you can't deal with the stress. Take it easy.' What better motto to live life by than that?
You can shop Y/Project on , and check out the .