When American sportswear emerged in the 1920s, it was the first fashion movement that sought to meet the needs of women’s increasingly fast-paced lifestyles. Chic yet comfortable “separates” (i.e. blouses, skirts, shorts) were designed to be easily interchangeable and equally appropriate at home as in business or social situations. It was fashion for women, created mostly by women, and it helped shape the comfort and sensibility of every day clothing.
“It really comes down to how these clothes work with reality, one that is right for the lifestyle of the modern woman, in its practicality and simplicity,” says ex-Prada womenswear director Jennifer Noyes.
That’s the idea behind M. Martin, the fashion label she co-founded along with Alex Gilbert, creator of the denim brand Paper Denim & Cloth. Both industry veterans and working mothers, the duo wanted to take a cue from the pioneers of sportswear to create a line of timeless staple pieces that are both comfortable and versatile for the modern woman on the go.
“It essentially began with a conversation about our frustration as consumers,” says Gilbert. “We could never find those sophisticated, beautifully executed pieces that were made here in NYC that were reasonable in price.” An image of Coco Chanel looking fabulous in her pajamas gave them the idea behind their “soft separates” category–interchangeable pieces that feel as leisurely as sweats but look good enough to wear to the office. Oversized knits can be paired with trousers, tailored button downs with great fitted jeans, and a crepe jacquard skirt with a cashmere crew–all wrapped up in a belted cashmere coat.
“I have a running joke that I would want a Smurf’s closet,” Noyes says. “[You need] to know what looks good on you, and what fits into your lifestyle. Great fit and high quality garments one can turn to season after season–and all the while, be comfortable. We wanted to manufacture high quality garments women can wear, look great in, and are comfortable in.”
The duo are busy gearing up for fashion week, where they’ll launch their Spring 2016 collection. Careful not to reveal too much, they say to expect more classic silhouettes with a modern feminine twist. “We really focused on the different fits this season. Familiar fits such as the cut of the T-shirt are refined, drapery and texture of different fabrics are introduced,” says Noyes.