Small, artisanal and individual, it started out as a menswear label under the late founder Yohan Serfaty in 2010 and under Marten's direction, who came on board in 2013, it has expanded into womenswear - and that whole urban, real-wardrobe vibe that Vetements has so successfully put on the map of late. Martens in fact used to be the fit model for Demna Gvasalia - the mind behind the now highly hyped Vetements and newly crowned creative director at Balenciaga - back in those Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp days. "He was a few years above me," recalls Martens, who confesses his own path into fashion was "accidental". It was a trip to Antwerp and discovering the architecture of the academy that did it.
"I thought it could be interesting," he told us. A portfolio of chairs (he had previously studied architecture) and an entrance exam (80 places for 400 applicants, he recalled) followed and he was in. "I had no idea how to sew, I just thought it was drawing, but after two weeks I was hooked."
Following his graduation in 2008, he joined Jean Paul Gautier to work on his G2 line, going on to notch up stints with Weekday and Bruno Pieters before launching his own label in 2012, which made its debut at Paris Fashion Week, and then heading to Y/Project.
"When I arrived I checked what Yohan used to do and it was very much in the direction of Rick Owens, which completely wasn't my direction, but obviously as a small label you have to build on that existing identity. So we did it softly and had a slow transition based on Yohan. Roughness, sleek elegant silhouettes, drama and darkness became the base of the new," he explained. "Duality is for me the biggest thing: wearability, versatility, adaptable pieces, gender fluidity" - something he says he blends with his own fascination for all things gothic, hailing from Bruges as he does. "Little references to gothic architecture - I always make very vertical cuts and deconstruct basics and put them back together."