Born in the mountainous region of South Tyrol, Italy, 36-year-old designer Martin Niklas Wieser has lived quite the nomadic life. After finishing secondary school in Ireland, he headed to the German capital to study fashion at Weisensee Art Academy. Although Martin decided to root himself in Berlin for twelve years, he frequently floated in and out of Paris, London, and Mexico City, eventually deciding to relocate to London. He enrolled in a PhD course at the Royal College of Art with the prospect of becoming more academically enriched. During this period, Martin took a break from running his namesake brand ‘Martin Niklas Wieser’ aka ‘MNW’, which was relaunched last year. “I’m currently based in Vienna, but I still consider Berlin to be the most identity-forming-city for me”, he says.
On the 23rd of April, MNW will present a pop-up store at Soho House in Berlin for Earth Day to sell their biodegradable, zero-waste knitwear pieces. (The pop-up will be open from 12-6 PM). We caught up with Martin to find out about the relaunch of MNW, his collection Commerce and his motto: “Always in flux. Never still. Always questioning.”
Œ: You grew up in South Tyrol, what was your relationship to fashion like back then?
Martin: Growing up in the Italian countryside, looking for escapism and self-expression – I saw fashion as a gateway. Fashion seemed like a good tool to challenge tight social norms. I have a working-class background, which continues to form my design identity today.
Œ: Tell us about your namesake brand MNW that you have recently relaunched.
Martin: My brand Martin Niklas Wieser was re-established in 2022, following an academic and artistic development break. Currently, the team of MNW consists of me, my partner and four freelance creatives, plus production sites. All MNW garments are designed in-house and produced in Italy. But the beginnings of MNW date back to my university years in Berlin, where the initial idea was born.
Œ: If you could choose one goal that you would like to achieve via MNW what would it be?
Martin: The long-term goal for me as a designer and for the brand is to build a powerful platform to challenge class notions, gender norms and expression of sexuality.
Œ: Who/what inspires you the most?
Martin: I draw inspiration from fashion history and theory, my working-class roots and everyday life. The vulnerability of the human body and mind is also a big influence.
Œ: You’ve aligned your brand with the slogan “Always in flux. Never still. Always questioning.” What other philosophies do you live by?
Martin: The times we live in are constantly changing, which provides us with daily challenges. It seems like we have to rise to those challenges and to do so means becoming comfortable with constant change. This greatly impacts the artistic output of the brand.
Œ: Your collection from London Fashion Week ‘Commerce’ is featured in this article. What’s with the office theme?
Martin: With this collection, I wanted to explore the normality and mundane reality of the working class and the corporate landscape. The collection consists of ready-to-wear luxury garments combining crisp tailoring, power suits with deconstructed and draped details, twisted shoulders, soft shirting and undergarments.
Œ: What is your current process – are you doing designs to order or do you create full collections?
Martin: I design collections. Roughly two per year, which are presented during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris. The brand strategy is also to create a collection over time that builds on archival pieces.
Œ: Where would you like to take your brand in the next few years?
Martin: We are working on building a transparent supply chain. We plan to expand our distribution and continue our work of perfecting the product.
Fashion – Martin Niklas Wieser
Photography – Markus Toll
Styling – Tim Heyduck
Model – Mirth Frutiger