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Martine Rose Officially Makes the World’s Best Menswear (Or at Least Britain) Highsnobiety

“I’m not used to being a winner, I’m used to being an underdog,” Martine Rose told Highsnobiety after she was deemed the year’s best British Menswear Designer at the 2023 Fashion Awards.

But while the award win might have been surprising for the British-Jamaican designer, it didn’t come as a big shock to us: Martine Rose has had an exceptional year.

Since founding her brand in 2007, the designer has been a cult favorite. She’s a name that many people credit as being a large part of Demna Gvasalia‘s early success at Balenciaga, for instance, having worked closely with the designer on the house’s menswear designs until 2018.

But more recently, we’ve watched her emerge from the shadow of being an underdog, an industry favorite, to receive the widespread acclaim she deserves.

Martine Rose has been making noise far beyond closed-off fashion circles, thanks to a combination of big-name co-signs and the inherent strength of her core design principles: an interrogation of menswear staples that manipulates them into eclectic, subversive collections.

Recapping arguably the biggest year in the brand’s 16-year existence, 2023 started on a strong foot with Rose’s FW23 collection presented during Pitti Uomo. Turning the historic Piazza Del Mercato Nuovo into a nightclub — a fitting location for a designer who got her introduction to fashion through clubbing — the line distorted clubwear from the ’70s and ’80s into nipped suits, enormous shearling jackets, single-sleeved satin shirts, and raver cargo pants.

martine rose
Martine Rose, Press

It also was here that the designer presented a new chapter in her ongoing collaboration with Nike. Rose chopping the heel off Nike’s Shox and making them into square-toed slip-ons proved to be an attention-grabbing move the first time around but decking them out in colorful gradient finishes is what got celebrities on board.

Hailey Bieber grabbed a pair before they even hit the runway and then Kendrick Lamar won a Grammy wearing full Martine Rose, down to her blue and purple sneaker-mule hybrids — the first of many times K.Dot has publicly shown love to the designer.

martine rose
Getty Images

"I’m best-dressed movin’ forward," Kendrick sang in "The Hillbillies," name-dropping Martine Rose while wearing a number of her designs (including a hat that bizarrely shouts out Barnsley).

Then, in November, the musician — who once said it’s on his "bucket list to work with Martine Rose," on a since-deleted Instagram post — created a collaborative collection with Rose and Baby Keem.

Kendrick Lamar’s continued vocal support of Martine Rose is not to be overlooked. The first MC to win a Pulitzer Prize and an artist with a huge, highly-engaged fanbase (he has 50.8 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone), his relationship with Rose is not only a big deal because of his vast reach but also because Kendrick is a notoriously private guy.

Keeping his media appearances and social media posts minimal, we’ve never seen the rapper publicly show appreciation for a designer this clearly.

Kendrick’s seal of approval is only a small part of the Martine Rose success story, however, and it was followed up by the United States Women’s National Soccer Team gearing up for the biggest competition in its calendar with custom-made suits created by Rose herself (all wore the aforementioned Nike Shox, of course).

martine rose
Nike, Press

"We wanted to use a moment in women’s football to tell the story of women’s football, and to highlight that essentially a suit is a suit; it’s a button down shirt, it’s a trench coat," Rose told Highsnobiety about the collection. “There’s nothing inherently gendered about any of those things.”

The designer dressing one of the tournament favorites in what’s been hailed as the most successful Women’s World Cup was another huge push to intro Rose to a wider audience. It shifted her from a relative outsider channeling a fixation on football into avant-fashion, into the nation’s designer, operating on a global stage and forever affirming Rose’s relationship with Nike.

martine rose
Nike, Press

But Nike isn’t the only big brand that’s tapped into Martine Rose this year: early into 2023, the brand created an automotive collaboration with Stüssy (every bit as good as you’d imagine it to be) and a surprisingly excellent partnership with Stella Artois. And let’s not to forget that Martine also landed a role as Clarks’ first-ever guest creative director.

martine rose
Martine Rose , Press

Martine Rose has openly admitted to being inspired by the outsiders, underground subcultures, and people who exist alternative to the mainstream. "I wasn’t looking at what the big brands were doing. It just didn’t feel relevant," she once said to Highsnobiety. What got Rose into fashion wasn’t fashion but a love of self-expression.

"I was interested in these tribes. I was interested in what people I knew were wearing."

And 2023 was the year that Martine Rose’s own style tribe finally took center stage.

Visit Highsnobiety to view this part of the article.

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