With a longstanding 20-year history in the industry, Maison Margiela (formerly Maison Martin Margiela) has always had a strong fashion presence; and yet, the fashion house still remains one of the most enigmatic high fashion labels. Spearheaded by the elusive Belgian founder and designer Martin Margiela, the brand is known for its quiet logos, signature number system, stark white themes and of course, a faceless founder. Taking all elements of the brand brings one to question what this secrecy is supposed to mean. Fashion retailer oki-ni recently took to analyzing the Parisian label by deconstructing its parts to get a closer insight to the brand and its core values. To learn more about the cryptic Maison Margiela tendencies, head over to oki-ni.
The Color White
The color white is fundamentally major in Maison Margiela. From the collections’ themes and the all-white paint exterior of the Converse collaboration, to the white interiors of the stores and the white lab coats worn by staff, the brand has become famous for featuring the muted shade. Firstly, the recurring use of white symbolically aligns with Maison Margiela’s brand philosophy of being “a symbol of unity and purity.” Significantly, the brand also embraces a “one voice with many bodies” attitude. The white lab coats enable employees to work in uniformed unity as a cohesive entity together in their white surroundings. This also essentially dismantles that top-down hierarchy so commonly seen in high fashion houses.
Maison Margiela’s signature style of minimal branding serves as a stark contrast to its other high fashion counterparts — think Gucci, Chanel, Calvin Klein. Rather than using loud logos and extensive homages to its designers, Maison Margiela has always and continues to incorporate its founders’ initials, found stamped in small lettering. The four white stitches only add to the anonymity of the designer, yet most importantly, enables the clothing to be identified with the wearer rather than the label. Even when Martin Margiela appointed John Galliano to takeover as creative director in 2013, the brand still continues to uphold its branding consistency. In addition to that, Galliano took to wearing the white lab coat at the debut show of his first collection with the label.
A list of numbers can be found printed on the reverse side of the label found on the clothing. The numbers are representative of Margiela’s 24 collections, which consist a range of menswear, womenswear and accessories. oki-ni reveals how each item of clothing is prefaced by its collection number; this is indicated by the circled number on the label. Additionally, certain collections are identified by their particular set of numbers:
The Artisanal Collection (0): A blend of vintage garments and contemporary pieces, the Artisanal line has always been revered for its deconstructionist designs since the brand’s inception in 1988. Margiela has become famous for his reworked garments, like his his handmade costume-like pieces.
Menswear Collections (10/14): The number 10 constitutes silhouettes that have been reinterpreted with Margiela’s avant-garde approach to contemporary menswear for every season. Alternatively, the number 14 indicates wardrobe staples and classic designs that are timeless in nature.
Mens’ Shoes and Accessories (11/22): The number 11 is granted to all accessories, which includes bags, belts, jewelry and leather goods, while the number 22 is given to all footwear.