“Everything up to this point has been pretty eye catching and provocative. that was intentional. we wanted to get people’s attention. but now with this upcoming collection you’re going to see a different side of things.” Says the international street-style designer to watch; Martin Myaka, about his fashion label in a Mission Statement interview with Izabel Rose.
Designer, model, modern-day artist and label founder/owner Martin Myaka travels between the USA and the UK as he delivers unique, one-of-a-kind street-style fashion pieces. Starting his fashion journey in New York and spending his first year there visiting every designer store in Soho its clear Martins passion for designing is outstandingly assertive as he presents a clear idea and direction for his label Martin Myaka.
All of Martins garments are currently sold out on his online store as he continues to design both womenswear/menswear street style pieces - his most iconic designs include the outlined hand-print bomber-like jacket with matching pants and balaclava. These pieces have been seen on well-renowned fashion icons such as Jack Harlow, El Dorado, Millie Hannah, Edie-Rose, Col3trane and Marino Morwood.
The brand recently crafted a 1 of 1 couch made of pine, its stated that "the couch was entirely designed, constructed, sanded and stained, from top to bottom by Samuel Jordan-Keller & Martin Myaka with help from Mike Keller." As well as the cushions being made by Martin and his mother. Mission Statement speak with Martin Myaka in an interview below detailing his labels direction, inspiration and plans for the future.
"Martin Myaka was started because I felt I had something I wanted to say. I run the brand as an art project, not as a clothing brand. We make clothes but we make art first. My goal was to take my vision and the opportunities I created for myself and bring them home to the people I grew up with who never had the opportunities to put their talent on display. A chance to be a part of something bigger. As we grow, being able to produce higher quantities and provide to a larger audience is important. We plan on expanding and working with manufacturing outside of our immediate team. But for now, we continue to push what we've done from the start - and that's making every product ourselves. No outside production." says the international jet/trendsetter about his label.
When did you find out that you wanted to be an artist/designer?
I fully made a commitment to what i’m doing a couple years ago. it’s always been in me but it took some time to develop.
Where do your main influences for Martin Myaka come from?
My influences really come from everywhere. mainly my friends. specifically, i have to mention the cole buxton team as a big influence for me. we don’t make the same type of clothing, but i really find their work ethic admirable. you can learn a lot from them just by watching how committed they are to everything they’re doing, day in and day out. also, Pierre Bassene, Junior Clint, Eastwood Danso... their work rate is unmatched.
Describe the creative process behind your designs?
I wish i had a specific process. the ideas kind of just spawn naturally and i try to act on them immediately so i don’t forget or get tired of them before i can develop them. but at this point things are happening kind of fast and i’m learning on the fly. i really just try to make sure i take my time and do everything the right way. i feel like every time i try to take shortcuts it shows.
What's Martin Myaka usual clientele like?
It’s for everyone. everything up to this point has been pretty eye catching and provocative. that was intentional. we wanted to get people’s attention. but now with this upcoming collection you’re going to see a different side of things. it’s a much more accurate representation of what we do as a brand. it’s less in your face and more focused on detail. which i think will expand our demographic even further.
What does being a designer mean to you?
Honestly i think i would have completely lost my mind by now if i wasn’t doing this. maybe i already have, i don’t know really, but being a designer for me has been very liberating. seeing people interested in the stuff i come up with and supporting us. i don’t have to follow any rules (besides obvious legal ones) - i get to make what feels right to me. and that makes me feel like i’m in control of my life.
When making your designs, what are your three biggest rules?
I’ve never really thought about this but i would say 1) i ask myself what story i’m trying to tell. 2) quality over quantity - no cutting corners. 3) how do i make whatever im working on, better. i feel like those are 3 important things i try to always keep in mind whenever i’m designing something new.
You've made pieces for celebs across the scene, from Jack Harlow to El Dorado, who has been your favourite to dress & why?
Yeah the response has been pretty cool. obviously you always hope people of that caliber will notice you but it’s always exciting when it actually happens. i don’t have a favourite. but Harlow wearing it in that video standing next to Lil Wayne was crazy. i have a lot of respect for him and the way he’s made his come up so that one means a lot to me. and we’re both from the midwest (he’s from louisville, i’m from cincinnati) so it was lowkey a pretty historical moment.
Martin Myaka recently crafted a 1 of 1 couch made from pine, what was the concept & reasoning for that project?
I mean the couch was crazy. that was like a spur of the moment, i woke up one day and was like “damn, i wanna make a couch”. i texted my friend Sam who is on my team, like “yo when i get back, we gotta make a couch”. he didn’t hesitate for a second. this was during quarantine and i was in LA at the time so we had to wait for me to get back to cincy to get started but as soon as i did we were working every single day for like 2 months. there were a couple weeks in between that i was away for work but Sam kept going. his uncle, Mike Keller helped us out a lot throughout to make sure we were doing things right and gave us access to every tool we could ever need. but it’s like the most rewarding thing I think i’ve ever done. it was our first time ever woodworking or making anything like that. and it came out so much better than we originally planned so i was gassed. now it’s gonna go in our studio whenever we secure that.
In your opinion which of your designs are your favourite & why?
I mean at this point in the brand, we have a pretty small catalogue. we’ve only had a few drops. the work set has gotten a great response but my favourite at the moment isn’t any clothing, it’s definitely the couch. as for clothes, my favourite designs aren’t out yet. but they’re coming and i’m fairly certain you won’t be disappointed.
What's the next step for Martin Myaka?
The next step for Martin Myaka is to keep building a really solid foundation. i feel like we’re a couple right moves away from really taking off, but i gotta make sure we have the infrastructure to capitalize on that moment when it comes. we have a very ambitious, yet attainable calendar for the next year.. but talk is cheap. we’re just gonna keep our heads down and do what we do - harder than ever. and then let receipts do the talking for us.
Interview by Izabel Rose