FEATURE | 26 March 2021

Text: Celine Lika
Photos: Courtesy of Mansour Martin

MANSOUR (AND) MARTIN

FROM FRIENDS TO CO-FOUNDERS OF THEIR OWN LABEL

When they first met over a decade ago, Mansour Badjoko and Martin Liesnard got along right away because of their common passion: fashion. In 2019, the Belgian designers founded Mansour Martin: their Paris-based label for sustainable menswear. Our editor-in-chief Martin had a chat with the duo about how they got into fashion, how they first met and later started their brand, and about their commitment to sustainability.

BUY MANSOUR MARTIN AT THE WASTED HOUR

Mansour Badjoko and Martin Liesnard first met in a bar in Brussels 15 years ago. Mansour was Martin’s best friend’s boyfriend. They ‘clicked right away’, as Mansour puts it. ‘We don’t have similar personalities – we complement each other. But what really brought us together is the same passion, the same need to work in fashion.’ After that, they saw each other a couple of times a year, catching up and discussing the challenges they faced working in the fashion industry. That way, they saw how each of them built his career separately, before starting to work together when they founded their label Mansour Martin in 2019. ‘That has given us a pretty good sense of what the other can do and what he brings to the table.’

Mansour Martin Hooded Shirt
AVAILABLE AT THE WASTED HOUR

Both Martin and Mansour were introduced to fashion by their families. Nevertheless, working in the fashion industry wasn’t a given for either of them. Martin’s grandmother was a sewing teacher, and he started helping her with her courses when he was 4. ‘I never considered working in that field myself until I came to London to study entertainment management.’ Someone suggested that he should check out the fashion industry because working in entertainment was similar to working in fashion. Martin then went to the University of Paris to study fashion and design management. ‘That’s how I started exploring the fashion industry more than 10 years ago – totally unexpected.’

Mansour found his way to fashion just as spontaneously. His mother taught him how to sew when he was 8, and little by little he made more difficult items. ‘Then, I realised that people designed clothes as a job. I didn’t really think this could be something for me, I just tried to pass the entrance exam at La Cambre in Brussels. When I got in, I was like, “Shit, now it’s real.” It was a happy accident. If I hadn’t got into La Cambre, I would’ve studied computer engineering.’ After graduating from university, Mansour continued his studies at the Institut Français de la Mode in Paris. Although they were both born in Belgium, Martin had been living in Paris since he was 6, and Mansour moved there to study. ‘Living in Paris was never a dream of mine, but I knew it was necessary: You can’t pursue a career in fashion and stay in Belgium.

When Mansour and Martin started university, they perceived the fashion industry as something out of reach. To Martin, fashion was ‘elitist, something you couldn’t access if you weren’t part of that world.’ He didn’t believe that you could just ‘do’ fashion on your own, by designing a costume, for example. ‘It wasn’t until I was 25 and started working in fashion that I could think of myself as part of that world.’

Mansour Martin Gabardine Pleated Pants
AVAILABLE AT THE WASTED HOUR

Mansour Martin Hooded Shirt & Gabardine Pleated Pants
AVAILABLE AT THE WASTED HOUR

In 2017, they both had a bit of time before starting new jobs. So, they were in a position to reflect on their future career in fashion. Having played around with the idea of starting their own thing for a while, they decided to create an online shop for sustainable customised shirts. After doing a lot of thinking and discussing it with others, Mansour Martin started as a small project.

Martin calls it ‘a beautiful accident. We simply met the right people at the right time. We’d never thought about making a proper brand, but the idea was just to play, try, experiment – a hobby. With time and because of the people we met, it became a professional, fully fledged brand.’ Their label developed very fast, ‘although we didn’t really know where we wanted to go.’ The duo has kept this way of working until today. ‘Of course, we try to further develop and grow our brand, but we still very much experiment and do what feels good to the team.’ 

From the very beginning, sustainability was important to Martin and Mansour. ‘It was a complete no-brainer’, Martin says. ‘For us, sustainability wasn’t anything we had to discuss. It was natural. We immediately looked for organic fabrics and ethical innovations.’ Mansour explains what ‘sustainable’ means to them: ‘It is to be mindful of the impact we have. We didn’t just want to add another product to the market. Instead, if we had to use resources, we wanted to do it in the most conscious way possible. How are our pieces produced and transported? What will the second life of the garment be like? You have to consider all these factors before you even start to design anything.’

Organic cotton and wool, cruelty-free silk, natural dye – Mansour Martin mainly uses eco-friendly materials. Therefore, most of their clothes are GOTS and Oeko-Tex 100 certified. They support recycling and upcycling, and their products are exclusively made in France, Belgium, and Portugal to minimise the carbon footprint. Moreover, they only work with studios and manufacturers who share the brand’s respect for the environment and human rights. Overall, Mansour Martin is committed to being totally transparent about the origin and composition of their products. 

Mansour Martin Gabardine light Blue Coach Jacket
AVAILABLE AT THE WASTED HOUR

Looking back on 2020, Mansour told our editor-in-chief Martin that one of the best moments for the brand was getting stocked at The Wasted Hour. ‘I’m not trying to kiss ass, but our first sale was very important to us – being sold somewhere, having somebody trust us.’

In the future, the designer duo wants to continue developing their art collaborations. Mansour Martin works together with a different artist each season to incorporate new ways of thinking and working into their collections. Martin adds that they want to find even more sustainable solutions for their brand. ‘We’re always looking for new partners, new innovations, new ideas. All the while, we’ll continue developing our unique style.’ 

Sweatshirt Maxi Logo MM
Sweatshirt Maxi Logo MM
Sweatshirt Maxi Logo MM
Sweatshirt Maxi Logo MM
Sweatshirt Maxi Logo MM

Mansour Martin

Sweatshirt Maxi Logo MM

€105.00

- 100% recycled fabric from France
- 48,5% recycled polyester // 48,5% recycled cotton // 3% recycled elastane
- Printed maxi logo
- Crew neck
- Designed for a boxy fit, choose your normal size
- Model is 186cm and wears size M

MADE IN PORTUGAL

Gabardine Light Blue Coach Jacket
Gabardine Light Blue Coach Jacket
Gabardine Light Blue Coach Jacket
Gabardine Light Blue Coach Jacket
Gabardine Light Blue Coach Jacket
Gabardine Light Blue Coach Jacket

Mansour Martin

Gabardine Light Blue Coach Jacket

€270.00

- 70% Cotton // 30% Polyester (Upcycled)    
- Four single welt pockets
- Button closure
- Collar strap detail
- Button cuffs      
- Designed for a relaxed fit, choose your normal size
- Model is 186cm and wears size M

MADE IN BELGIUM

Satin Mini Shorts
Satin Mini Shorts
Satin Mini Shorts
Satin Mini Shorts
Satin Mini Shorts

Mansour Martin

Satin Mini Shorts

€144.00

- 100% Viscose (sourced from Japan)
- Two zipped pockets
- Two slits
- Designed for a short fit, choose your normal size
- Model is 186cm with waist 77cm and wears size S

MADE IN BELGIUM

Light Wool Summer Jogger Black
Light Wool Summer Jogger Black
Light Wool Summer Jogger Black
Light Wool Summer Jogger Black
Light Wool Summer Jogger Black

Mansour Martin

Light Wool Summer Jogger Black

€290.00

- 100 % Italian Wool  
- Elasticated waist
- Color: Black
- Single welted black pocket
- Handmade finishing
- Designed for a slim fit, choose your normal size
- Model is 186cm with waist 74 and wears size XS

MADE IN BELGIUM

Also available in Dark Navy.

Note from the Mansour Martin:

"Our wool comes from one of the oldest wool mills with 13th generation of the same Italian family at the helm, Vitale Barberis Canonico (1663).  Today they combine heritage savoir-faire and innovation to offer a wide range of woolens and natural blends for menswear.
They pride themselves in selecting the highest quality merino wool from Australian breeders. They even created a Wool Excellence Award and Club, only working and rewarding breeders respecting the International Wool Textile Organization (IWTO) guidelines for Wool Sheep Welfare (good practice principles for ethical wool sheep production). "

Gabardine Pleated Pants
Gabardine Pleated Pants
Gabardine Pleated Pants
Gabardine Pleated Pants
Gabardine Pleated Pants

Mansour Martin

Gabardine Pleated Pants

€170.00
€340.00

- 70% Cotton // 30% Polyester
- Pleated Pants
- Light blue
- Regular waist
- Designed for a relaxed fit, choose your normal size
- Model is 186cm with waist 77cm and wears size 46

MADE IN BELGIUM

Popeline Light Blue Hooded Shirt
Popeline Light Blue Hooded Shirt
Popeline Light Blue Hooded Shirt
Popeline Light Blue Hooded Shirt
Popeline Light Blue Hooded Shirt
Popeline Light Blue Hooded Shirt
Popeline Light Blue Hooded Shirt
Popeline Light Blue Hooded Shirt

Mansour Martin

Popeline Light Blue Hooded Shirt

€260.00

- 100% Organic Cotton (GOTS & OEKO TEX certified)
- Big hood
- Button closure
- Breast pocket
- Designed for an oversized fit, choose your normal size
- Model is 186cm and wears size M; Model measures: chest 85cm, waist 74cm, hips 88cm

MADE IN FRANCE

Thank you, Mansour and Martin, for being part of THE WASTED HOUR.

See more of Mansour Martin here:
Instagram
Homepage