He only graduated from the fashion academy in Antwerp last year, and Marc Pengel is already turning heads with his own label. Marc Martha is the ultimate synthesis of his Caribbean roots and European culture.
What makes you different from other designers?
Undoubtedly my Caribbean background. I was born in Curaçao. I always try to incorporate my roots into my collections. I’m always implementing those memories and images into a western silhouette. The playfulness between those two worlds makes for a unique picture. With Martha, I’m putting the Caribbean on a pedestal. I want to show the entire world that Caribbean culture is not primitive at all – that we’re so much more than the tourist resorts we’re known for.
Where does the magic of the discipline come from, for you?
The fact that you can bring a design to life with your idea, sketch or dream, and that it makes a person really happy and feel more powerful. To me, having that opportunity is pure euphoria. For me, designing also somewhat tempers the homesickness I feel for my family, who moved back to Curaçao. That connection makes me happy.
What is the biggest challenge in your work?
Finding the balance between making the most creative creations and keeping them marketable. Although I’m lucky enough to have a lot of freedom in that. Anyone who approaches our brand already loves colour and isn’t afraid to wear a little more of it in their clothing. So I don’t feel very restricted, but it will always be a challenge. Having a financially sound company is very important to me. I want to build something that the kids in the Caribbean can look up to. There’s still a persistent idea that you can’t make money in the artistic disciplines.