Innovation is the name of a lineage, a tradition in which boundaries are blasted and new horizons discovered. As the once-disparate worlds of luxury and streetwear now converge and regularly coalesce, we hear the not-too-feint sounds of hip hop permeating our consciousness.
It’s in this context that the Martell x Amos Ananda streetwear collection unspools. On one side of the equations sits Martell, the standard-setting 300-year-old French cognac house whose amber-hued elixir is synonymous with refinement and luxury. On the other side rests Amos Ananda, a Singaporean designer whose eye is constantly trained on new frontiers of creation, where the canvas of fashion can be elevated to articulate higher, deeper and bolder truths.
Forged as part of the new unveiling of the Martell Noblige, under the banner ‘Soar Beyond the Expected’, the collection is an homage to the respective worlds of music, pop culture luxury and streetwear, as much as it marks a unificatory moment wherein they intersect. Born in the streets, and destined for the world, it marks a huge moment for its makers.
Here, Ananda breaks the silence on how this unique collaboration came to be.
How does it feel have the Martell x Amos Ananda streetwear collection out in the world?
Martell is a big brand. I feel like I finally have a platform to do something on a bigger stage in Singapore. The retail climate here has been tough for the past three years. Now that the economy is opening up, it feels great to finally be able to unleash the energy and ideas I’ve had. There’s so much in me that I want to show and I’m very grateful that Martell trusted my creativity and gave me this opportunity. This is the platform, this is the time.
What about this collaboration unlocked the doors to what you’ve wanted to express?
You know, I’ve never doubted my ability to create. I have an innate tenacity which prevents me from sitting still and doing nothing. I’m based in China where, even prior to COVID-19, I had multiple projects running. When presented with the chance to collaborate, I started to think about how I could infuse my heritage and my DNA into the framework of streetwear. I’m Chinese, from the East, and Martell is from the West. Through the collection, both worlds could mingle in a creative way. It’s very evident in the pieces that my heritage is present is in the aesthetic. You see Mandarin-style buttons on a Hawaiian shirt. You see traces of my artistic DNA, such as the stars. I also coined a phrase, ‘Powered by Audacity’, which is a call to action. It’s a message for anyone; it’s a multidisciplinary approach to creating your own destiny. I hope my designs elevate everyday moments of peoples’ lives. That’s what I want to present.
As a designer with a distinct point of view, how did you find, and subsequently, build, upon the common ground between your vision and Martell’s?
Martell’s DNA is very strong. I’m inspired by its emblem, the swift. The brand has existed since 1715. We’re talking about a 300-year-old legacy. How I started the design process was with the print: What people see as camo, I reconfigured into clouds. I want to channel the story of Martell’s swift flying through 300 years of passion and still going strong in the present and into the future.
Even Martell’s campaign philosophy, ‘Soar Beyond the Expected’, syncs perfectly with your own.
I can totally relate with it. My innate tenacity and creative energy are always within me. The market is small in Singapore. But with collaborations like Martell, we can soar further. We can combine or merge our visions and introduce fresh perspectives and fresh designs to our audiences.
Collaborations of this nature are few and far between. Were you apprehensive about working with such an established brand on a creative endeavour?
You know, I feel that most people would give up half-way if they felt apprehensive or intimidated. But there was no chance of me doing that. The conversation with Martell has been going on since 2021. It’s been a long process. From my point of view, the likelihood of people in my shoes giving up because of the pressures of delivering such a big project is high. That’s why I want to show to customers and creatives in our industry that it’s possible.
Do you consider yourself a streetwear designer?
I don’t want to be defined by a term or a lane. I see myself as a creator. Anyone can be a designer. The term is overused. Politically, it’s correct to call me a designer, but I see myself doing a lot of things.
What is the best way big brands and independent designers can work together?
The global fashion scene is veering towards the trinity of hip hop, streetwear and contemporary art. In the past, it was unconventional. Now, it’s undeniable. Look at what Supreme and Louis Vuitton did together. It’s the OGs that made this possible. They paved the way for people like me who are doing something like this now. What’s important is how big brands work with us in embracing our identity and heritage so that we can create new perspectives for the wearer. If you look at the collection, you’ll see shorts that are reminiscent of basketball shorts, pants that resemble track pants.
Is Martell a sport brand?
No. I’m bringing a new perspective in a very subtle way, without directly mentioning basketball or streetwear. That’s how I respect the brand. When we have the freedom to create and bring the design and the messaging across, great things can be achieved. The world’s luxury and streetwear often converge today.
Can Singapore chime in on this moment?
Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones broke the mould. But if independent designers like myself don’t start doing this, Singapore won’t reach the stage where it becomes a fashion city and we won’t realise that it’s even possible for us to accomplish this. When I took up this project, I knew that I had many things to prove, one of which is that, just because we’re from Singapore, doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
What words of advice do you have for Singaporean designers?
Don’t be afraid to dream. As long as you know that you have the ability, you have to dare to dream. We create our own destiny. This project is proof: It happened over COVID-19. You can design all day and night, but if you just sit and wait, it might not happen. Go out there, meet people, share your vision and make it work. Trust that process.