Why is everyone talking about Martine Rose 

Why is everyone talking about Martine Rose 

by Ollie Cox
7 min

Kendrick Lamar just made a dig at Drake dressed in your favourite designer’s favourite designer, which, if you didn’t know, is Martine Rose. You’ll probably find Martine Rose in the wardrobes of rappers, major celebs, and fashion editors alike, with its explorations of the everyday being catnip for just about anyone cool. 

Rose founded her eponymous label in 2007 following a £1,500 loan from the Prince’s Trust, a British charity that supports young business owners. But her journey is rooted in reality and reflects the immense financial difficulties faced by young designers. This familiar struggle was highlighted earlier this year when it was estimated that a “modest show could cost anything from £10,000 to £50,000,” which, unless you’re a bankrolled nepo child of a banker, is a huge amount of money for any emerging brand to find. Rose worked around these financial difficulties in her Spring/Summer 2015 collection when she was a part of Lulu Kennedy’s non-profit talent incubator, Fashion East. She only presented one look: a leather coat meets baggy tracky belter that oozed with Martine Rose’s sexy subcultural exploration. 

And it is London and its hotbed of subcultures that continues to inspire Martine Rose’s output, with the London-based designer finding inspiration beyond the lofty realm of luxury fashion, looking to the everyday spaces of escapism that exist in the shadows, such as nightclubs, pubs, saunas, and football terraces, just take a look at SS24’s show set in a community centre in North London. Despite Rose seeing success abroad, showing in both Paris and Milan, with a FW23 stint in Florence for Pitti Uomo serving as another display of her menswear strength, the UK capital is intrinsic to the world of Martine Rose, as she told us backstage at her recent SS25 show. “I’m into hopping about now. I’ll always go home to London,” she shared.

This authenticity and deep-rooted identity is key to the brand’s success, which has struck a chord with a load of high-profile fans, including Kaytranda, Gigi Hadid, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, and Nick Jonas, to name a few. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up just some of the reasons why everyone loves Martine Rose. 

Subculture done properly 

Rose flirted with the idea of fashion from a young age after watching her older siblings getting ready to go out. Her eldest sister Michelle was a part of London’s dub and reggae scene, donning garments made by the family dressmaker in Wimbledon, often using pullouts from glossy fashion mags as a reference. Her brother was into raving at a time when London was a beacon of nightlife before rising rents and industrial developments made throwing a decent club night a near-impossible ask.

These early influences aligned clothing with a broader sense of belonging for Rose, where garments played a role in subcultural expressions of identity, be it time spent on the dancefloor (Rose celebrated her 14th birthday in Strawberry Sundae nightclub in Vauxhall), pint-sinking football hooligans, or London rudeboys. Rose riffs on these subcultures with careful consideration, be it the boxy cut of a jacket, plays on sportswear logos, or square-toed loafers. The obscure fits that re-occur on Rose’s runways mirror the deliberate alterations that distance style tribes from the status quo, akin to the oversized jerseys worn by ravers, tailoring and loafers worn by rudeboys, or graphics and logo riffs seen in the punk movement. It is beautifully imperfect and speaks to the sense of belonging that clothing can provide, garnering a loyal crowd of followers from across the fashion spectrum. 

Three Lionesses on the shirt 

While Martine Rose has regularly looked to the sense of community surrounding football in its standalone collections, in 2021, it worked with Nike for a collaboration titled “The Lost Lionesses.” The capsule celebrated a group of women aged between 13 and 21 who travelled to Mexico City in 1971 as part of an unofficial England team. They played in an international football tournament in an era when women were told they shouldn’t play football. This fashion-meets-footie collab shone a light on the pioneering feet of former England Lionesses – and we can all get behind that. 

The collection’s hero piece was a reversible jersey which featured a Rose badge embroidered with “71” on one side and an “all the best” message underneath the official England badge on the other. An accompanying video campaign depicted an indoor football tournament held in a community space, where protagonists donned Martine Rose’s snout loafers, football kits, and tracksuits. The soundtrack remixed a full-time whistle with a jungle beat in a project that perfectly encapsulated the Martine Rose world, where rave, footie, and community come together. 

Location, location, location 
Martine Rose ©

Cul-de-sacs, climbing centres, and community halls. These are some of Rose’s stellar show locations that have drawn the fashion crowd out of its insular bubble. For SS19, the designer closed off St. Leonard’s Square in North London, opening up the invites to the neighbours. In SS23, Rose took us under the arches in Vauxhall in a disused gay sauna a stone’s throw away from the nightclub where the designer celebrated her 14th birthday. In both of these spaces, Rose was able to fuse fashion with the community spaces that exist outside of the fashion ecosystem. These settings all contribute to Martine Rose’s unconventional approach as “probably the best designer in the world” (a Carlsberg logo riff that the designer has returned to, again nodding to the community spaces which influence her) and add to the buzz around her often off-schedule, shows.  

Martine Rose for Balenciaga 
Balenciaga ©

No, don’t get your fashionable underwear in a twist. Martine isn’t going to a House (just yet, anyway), but she did work with Demna at Balenciaga from 2015 to 2018, consulting on the Maison’s menswear line, including on its debut menswear show in 2016. This move massively helped Rose carve a commercial side to her label, which was supporting sales with bar shifts to keep the brand alive until that point. 

Rose’s work at Balenciaga helped transform its menswear offering, playing with proportion, shape and structure. Oversized silhouettes akin to those seen in Rose’s own output helped to push the envelope of what modern menswear could be by drawing on a broader range of subcultural influences. Beyond clothing, Demna’s appointment of Martine Rose shone a light on her work outside of cliquey fashion circles, helping put her on the radar of a new consumer who was willing to splash the cash on some of the London-based designer’s infectious cool. 

Doing things her own way 

Martine Rose doesn’t care if you don’t like her clothes. Everything she touches is an authentic reflection of what inspires her. In her Spring/Summer 2025 collection, Rose’s mighty mix of street cast models, including some familiar London faces and others from Milan wore prosthetic noses and floor-scraping wigs. The decision was described as a move against the polished glamour of Milan and an effort to find beauty in “the frayed edges, in the cracks [where] beauty isn’t usually found.” And in 2024, amidst a more muted menswear landscape, Martine’s original, always exciting shows give everyone something to look forward to.

More on Culted 

See: You can take Martine Rose out of London, but you can’t take London out of Martine Rose

See: Martine Rose Fall/Winter 2024 gave Paris a night to remember

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