Behind the scenes with the Martine Rose Design Team

A very exciting addition to our portfolio this season is critically acclaimed menswear designer Martine Rose. The eponymous label headed up by Martine herself is always a highly anticipated show at London Fashion Week, with her stand out designs, collaborations and concepts. For a behind the scenes look at everything Martine Rose, we spoke with Shauni on the design team for an insight into everything from the design process and collaborations to fashion week and her favourite looks.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Shauni and I’m originally from Scotland. I studied at Edinburgh College of Art and I am from a town called Falkirk which is in the central belt of Scotland , about 20 mins east of Glasgow. I have lived in London for around 7 years and moved down here to work in fashion. I started out working in a pub and doing a few internships and then eventually in 2015 I landed a job with Martine and I’ve been working as a designer with her on various projects ever since. I started off as a design intern in 2014 just before Martine had her first baby, Valentine. When she returned after maternity in 2015 she asked me to come back and work for her as a studio manager and design assistant.

How big is the team at Martine Rose?

Not big at all. There are probably about 6 of us in the studio Monday to Friday, its roughly one person per department. I am the only designer and have recently taken on an assistant to help me 4 days a week. Although the permanent studio team is small, we have an extended family of amazing friends and freelancers that we collaborate with on a regular basis. They help us to develop our prints, graphics and shoes and it’s their brilliance which really helps bring the Martine Rose vision to life.


Photo credit @martine_rose

Can you describe the design process?

The design process is different for everyone but mine always starts in a similar way. I start with a research period, here I might reflect on what was successful and unsuccessful in the previous season, identify gaps that I feel weren’t explored fully or ideas that I think have more mileage.

My research is always really broad, I gather as much as I can and then we narrow it down, this is where we identify potential stories or themes in the collection.  For example something like the tie neck story we explored in Autumn Winter 20, we think how this story can feed into different categories in the collection. Can we bring it into sportswear, jersey, tailoring, is it going to work in outerwear? so we build the collection around these stories. Then we begin to prototype, some ideas work and some of them don’t, the trick is not to be too precious about anything, it’s just part of the process.

What do you look for in a good collaboration as a designer?

I absolutely love collaborating and I feel like it’s something we were really pushed to do in uni, they put real emphasis on the benefits of collaborating. Although, I always felt like the fashion students were always really anti collaboration, scared whoever they were collaborating with was going to ruin their work. I’ve collaborated loads during my time at Martine Rose, its great to have people from different disciplines to bounce ideas off and someone that can question your ideas, I think that makes for good design.



I think what makes a good collaboration is when you see brands working with companies that allow them to execute idea’s that they wouldn’t normally be able to fully develop themselves. For example with Nike they are the world leaders in sporting apparel and footwear. They can technically achieve things with their factories that we could never achieve, working with them allowed us to work with pioneering factories in footwear and explore dynamic and unique ideas with experienced footwear designers. We were able to fully push and explore our ideas without limits. The same goes for Napapijiri – we were able to develop outerwear that was made by factories specialising in outerwear,really focus on one area and develop jackets that would not only look good but would provide proper protection from the weather.

Is Martine’s Jamaican British heritage an influence in the designing process?

To be totally honest Martine’s Jamaican British heritage is rarely a starting point in our design process. Of course a lot of the designs are influenced by both our personal experiences: family members, friends, people in our community, so there may be nods to Jamaica in the prints or collection graphics. Martine and I are very inspired by lots of different things. The collections are made up of a melting pot of ideas and influences, from football fans to cultural icons like Nelson Mandela, Peter Tosh or Sioxsie Sioux. The collections change every season and there’s never just one story or character in each one.

Do you have a favourite look that you’ve been a part of?

That’s really difficult, every season you have one that you’re really proud of. Although, I often find myself looking back on things and picking them apart for what I feel could have been done better. If I could narrow it down to two it would be easier. I think the first one would be the AW18 twist football shirt. The reason I feel like that was so successful is because both the garment and the concept for subverting the garment came from football. The idea came from some screenshots I had taken of footballers tugging each others shirts and the effect this had on the shape as well as the graphics.

Photo Credit: Vogue Runway

Photo Credit: Vogue Runway

The second one would be our twist tailored jacket which has become one of our staple tailoring pieces. It took us two or maybe even three seasons to really perfect but now I’m really pleased with it. When I see people in it they always look good, I’ve never seen someone in it that doesn’t look fab.

How much are you involved on the day and in the lead up to Fashion Week?

I’m involved a lot I would say, It’s really all hands on deck when it gets to show day. It’s usually a long day for us, for an 8pm show we will be there from around 9/10am. I’ll be busy doing walkthroughs with the models and briefing the dressers backstage, that sort of thing, Then of course just before the models go on, i’ll be hiding in the shadows with Martine and Tamara frantically lint rolling jackets and tidying up belts and collars before models walk out, it’s pretty full on.

I have loved elements of every show I’ve worked on with Martine and I feel incredibly fortunate to do what I do, for me my favourite would have to be AW17. We showed in the columbian market in seven sisters. It was just down the road from our studio at the time and we had the market vendors do the catering for the show and bring their families along to watch. It was the first time any of us had done a show in a public space like that – no white walls, white benches or stark gallery lighting. Health and safety nightmare basically. Press and buyers were sat alongside people from the community and our friends and family.

It was amazing. I’m sure we asked ourselves after it why we hadn’t done it before, it sort of started a trend for us. We wanted to expose people to these fantastic people and places in London and celebrate not only their community but our own – the climbing wall in Tottenham hale and the cul-de-sac in Kentish Town both stemmed from the success of AW17.


Words by Emma Bowkett

Interview with Shauni Douglas

Emma Bowkett

Emma Bowkett

Writer and expert