Ethan Martin Creates DEBUT Collection Utilizing Deadstock Fabric
Born in Bakersfield, California, and raised primarily in Lompoc, California, Ethan Martin decided as a freshman at Cabrillo High School to pursue fashion. They became President of FIDM Fashion Club and attended the DEBUT Runway Show in 2019. After graduation, Ethan moved to Los Angeles to attend FIDM and was accepted into the prestigious Advanced Fashion Design program. The designer will be showing an inspired collection at FIDM’s Annual DEBUT Runway Show event which will live-stream on Thursday, August 18, 2022 at 6:00 PM PDT. We caught up with Ethan to learn more.
Tell us about your DEBUT collection: My collection is an unashamed presentation of all of my greatest loves mashed into one. Heavily inspired by a queer video game femme fatale, this collection is brought forth by my love of drag, pop art, and eclectic video games. Expect drama, color, volume, and camp.
What silhouettes and fabrics can we expect to see? I have three main fabrications—a Japanese cotton twill, a cotton ponte, and a cotton/poly chenille. Roughly 80% of my fabrications were purchased as deadstock, meaning that they were rejected from the industry and would've been sent to landfill. As for silhouettes, I've played with the classic fit and flare of a cinched waist and a flared bottom. There are also a lot of circular shapes consistent throughout the collection.
What is your point of view, as a designer? My point of view is about mixing two worlds; the creative and the ethical. My "brand" (aka my creative side) is defined by bright colors and strong pattern mixing with a black and white stripe everpresent to string everything together. I always want my client (however they identify) to have fun with my clothes. But my goal is to make these incredible fantastical pieces in a way that regards the waste that goes into them. I'm constantly testing and playing with ways to create beautiful garments from what the industry has left behind.
How do you hope people will feel when they see your designs? Excitement and joy! I design to raise people's spirits and give them life. I can't stand clothes that are taken too seriously.
Tell us a little about yourself: I'm a fashion-loving, high energy goofball that has a nerdy side. I can be a little cutthroat every now and then but I try to always lead with love and compassion.
What inspires you as a creative and as a fashion designer? Queerness. My life and therefore my work is rooted in expressing however I damn well choose to, and helping others do the same.
What is a lesson you've learned as you've been working on your collection? Make decisions quickly and go with your gut instinct. Some of the best developments in my collection came when I turned my brain off and followed my heart. But always ask for critique and advice to make sure you're on the right path.
Tell us about your path to FIDM: I decided fashion was my goal freshman year of high school so I planned my next step. Being from California, I wanted to be able to get my fashion education while being close to my family (which I adore). FIDM stood out as an obvious choice. I attended Open House days and realized that they checked the majority of my boxes so all I had to do was work towards making it feasible for myself. I was a Fashion Club president and even attended the 2019 DEBUT show before being admitted and moving to DTLA. And in case you're wondering, DEBUT was always my goal and there was no doubt in my mind I'd get here.
How is FIDM helping you get closer to your career goals? DEBUT specifically has given me the ability to showcase what I believe I do best; work that is as strong technically as it is creatively. The platform and the opportunity have been incredible and I'll be walking away from it with a portfolio that should open up many doors.
Any advice for someone considering applying to be a DEBUT student? Have technical skills or be ready to learn on your feet. The work is no joke and there is no half stepping. The most important skills needed for the program are patterning, draping, and sewing, so hone those up before applying.