Back Issue__ Heather Martin of Mono
Photos by: Michelle FordHeather Martin in the woman behind Mono Clothing, a growing design label based out of Vancouver, B.C. Heather--who prides herself on creating both hand-made delicacies and locally manufactured minimalist staples--not only founded and runs MONO clothing, but has collaborated with Lifetime Collective, Douglas Coupland and Yumi Eto.
Heather Martin could teach us a thing or too. And not just because she is a high school drop out turned college professor. (We want to enroll in her classes.) But because she runs her own successful and growing clothing line, Mono (which you might recognize from our The Cover Story shoot with Fan Death).
Born in the United Kingdom, Heather migrated to Toronto when she was four years old. Dropping out of high school, she headed west to Vancouver. While supporting herself by waiting tables, Heather was given an old sewing machine. She started revamping vintage clothes and soon progressed to making original pieces. Her boyfriend encouraged her to go back to school for design.
"I had never really been to school before," Heather explains shyly. "And I certainly never thought I would go back, but when I did all these door opened up. It's like a blanket, right? You can do anything under the security of being in school."
Heather now teaches four classes at the college she once attended, Textiles, Garment Construction for Graduate Students, Introduction to Fashion Design and a studio class.
Mono is an extension of Heather--a parade of strong, controlled yet minimalist silhouettes. Her somewhat unisex collections are always themed: "Interlacing Opposing Thoughts," the quest for a happy medium between dark and light using hand-made lace, "Shard," delving into the darker, heavier garments made of leather and cotton and "Flight," a whimsical, light and airy interpretation. Her goal is to "explore the spaces between art, craft, design and fashion aiming to redefine the categorical convention of these genres." Or clothing for creative professionals, of which she has many loyal buyers.
"I like simplicity," Heather confirms. "Style is more important than actual clothing. The way someone puts something together is way more interesting than the item itself. Clothing, for me, is quite functional. It has to be comfortable and unique."
Heather is soft-spoken. She locks her eyes to yours and exudes an organic, quiet energy so unique that, at first, you can barely understand what it is. After talking with her about her upbringing, her visions and her company, you realize that it's simply confidence. It's just the right kind of confidence, never boisterous.
Besides her clothing collections, which are sold in select boutiques through out North America (Eugene Choo in Vancouver, Stand Up Comedy in Portland, Assembly in New York City) and the UK, Heather is working on new challenges like film and instillation. She has two upcoming film projects-one with Gene Doe and the other with Todd Duym--which will be released this month, an instillation that premieres on March 11th at the Shaw Gallery in Toronto curated by 01// Magazine and another at Vancouver's Collage Collage shop.
"It's really hard to express exactly how you want something to be, especially when you are working visually. You don't want to take something that already exists and say 'do it like this' that's boring." Needless to say, Heather has found her way around the issue of "boring."