After unveiling its first collection of high-end, degendered swimwear in July 2022, Paris-based label Martial reveals a pre-collection that sets the tone for summer 2023. What is degendered swimwear and why is it important to have it in today’s society? To better understand these questions, CAP 74024 invite the designer and the head of Martial, Martial Charasse for a decent talk about his concept, his design, his journey and the stories behind them.


Could you tell us a bit about Martial? What’s the motivation behind founding this brand? Is any interesting stories or anecdotes you want to share in this journey?


First of all, before being the name of the brand, Martial is my first name. That of a child born on an Auvergne farm that is passed down from generations to generation. I have always felt out of step with the agricultural world in which I grew up. Preferring to imagine doll clothes rather than accompanying my parents in the fields. This is why after I graduated from high school, I decided to move to Paris to study fashion so as to realize my dream, to create my own brand.


It was after my participation in the Hyères Festival, and the numerous people I met there, that everything began.


An anecdote? I accepted a job as a swimwear designer in 2020, on the other side of the globe (Madagascar) without knowing anything about swimsuits. At that time, I found it exciting to go on an adventure, I had no idea that I would have real crush for this kind of product. Unfortunately, the pandemic miscarried this project, but my desire to create my swimwear brand was born.

This is the second season of your innovation swimwear brand; it is nascent but full of potential as we can see. Could you guide us through the concept and the mood of your second season’s design?


Actually, I regard this second drop as a teaser, the teaser for my next spring summer collection. I reveal new colors (sky blue, khaki…), a more urban vibe because my pieces are designed to be worn also in town or for partying; and together with jeans, under a transparent dress…and so on. It is also an opportunity to present my first unisex ready-to-wear set composed of a top and pants.


As an extension of the first season, what was the connection that you link the two seasons’ design?


Exactly, it is an extension of my first collection, I take emblematic models from the first collection in new colors. As for my first ready-to-wear set, it uses a floral jacquard fabric from my first collection. I also wanted to keep the same guideline of my first collection; the contrasting lacing and the color mixes.

Genderless swimwear is still quite a new concept today, but with the awareness of non-binary gender self-identity rising, it is nice to see someone initiate the moves and produce genderless swimwear in the market. What makes you decide to initiate this move?


It was my personal story that naturally pushed me to embark on this adventure. Since childhood I have always had a pronounced taste for androgynous figures. My wardrobe is also composed of many “feminine” clothes. Unfortunately, they are not always well-fitted for a male body. From this observation and experience, I initiated the idea to find solutions of abolishing the gender boundaries.


Continuing from the previous question, who are the existing clients of your genderless swimwear, and who will the potential clients be?


I believe and imagine my customers to be those who are the real spearheads to break the gender boundaries. They are looking for pieces that allow them to feel comfortable, whether the anatomy agree with their gender or not.

Normally when we talk about unisex design, we are talking about ready-to-wear outfits. It is not common to have genderless design in intimate wears. How do you cross the biological characteristics and eliminate the boundaries while respecting the anatomy?


Indeed, that was the main challenge, we cannot deny the anatomical differences even if we want to. Also, most of unisex clothes on the market are using oversize shape to overcome the biological difference, and it is impossible for a swimsuit to follow suit. This is the reason why each model of our swimwear has two patterns taking into account the anatomical characteristics of each gender. We want to offer upshots that are visually identical, regardless of the morphological characteristics of the model. It was therefore necessary to find solutions at the pattern stage, to finally create the illusion of a single model.


As an emerging brand, how do you position your brand in this market? 


My brand is meant to question a new relationship around our body, our sexuality but also our identity. The borders initially established by the society have never been so fragile, and that’s a good thing! This is with a genderless swimwear world that I wanted to definitely break the codes.


Could you share with us some insight in your next season’s project if it is not a business secret?


Of course, it is a business secret haha. But what I can tell you is that I am currently working on various accessories and bags on top of the swimwear. Moreover, I want to mainly offer more ready-to-wear. On top of that I want to confection some extravagant image pieces with unexpected materials…SO GUYS, STAY TUNED!

Photography: Enzo Tonati (@je_sors_ce_soir_)

Creative Direction: Julie Etienne des Rosaies (@julieetiennedes)

Styling: Taoriki Dexter (@toarikidexter)

Casting: Chouaïb Arif (@chouaibarif_casting)

Hair: Vincent Yves-Marie Zimberlin (@vincentzimberlin)

Make up: Azusa Kumakura  (@azusabeauty_)

Photo Assistant: Soraya Sanini (@sosoinpariss), Jacky Varlet (@jackyonacid)

Model : Julia-Kim (@julikimjean), Rose (@rrrabia__), Ritchy Oricci (@ritchycobraldelavega)


Interview by Yves Tsou