A Shakespearean name: House of Montague. An unconventional soul. Martin Ahn chooses to mix tradition and avant-garde. An innovative, young shoes-brand was born…which looks forward! The 2013-14 F/W Collection introduced at PittiImmagineUomo83 is inspired by America, the golden age one… The choice of the materials, the clear lines, the futuristic design speak of him, his story that he has exclusively decided to tell us of FuckingYoung!


Fucking Young: – Hello! Tell us about your beginnings… What is your background?

Martin Ahn: House of Montague began as a project next to finishing my bachelor in Production Management at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. House of Montague was a great way to apply the theoretical and practical learning’s from FIT to my own side project next to all our school projects, which wasn’t always the biggest interest of mine.


FY: – When, how and why was House of Montague born?

M.A: House of Montague became a reality in April, 2011, after returning to Copenhagen after almost three years in one of the greatest cities on earth, New York. After I finished school, I had to make a choice, which was to either stay in NYC and work my way up in one of the bigger companies of return home and start my career in DK. During my degree I interned at various companies in NYC and didn’t really see myself working in the production of a major label correcting specs. I needed a more creative outlet within my work to be content. Therefore, it was simple, I had to return to Copenhagen because the smaller brands in NYC wasn’t hiring at the time because of the global recession that had just started and made everybody cut costs.

After returning home I quickly realized that the situation wasn’t much better and that I had to begin interning again or get a job that wouldn’t satisfy my work needs. So I pulled out my own side project, House of Montague, and began working on realizing it. Subconsciously I always knew that HOM was what I really wanted to do but I guess I needed the surrounding world to tell me to start.


FY: – As an  emergent stylist, what are the difficulties you faced to assert yourself?

M.A: Well it is always difficult in the beginning to be sure that this is the right step forward but I stuck to my own idea and relied on advice from friends I respect and admire myself on areas that I wasn’t 100% sure about. But I think the first time I really felt that I was on the right path was during our first tradeshow when the fashion director from Monocle Magazine approached me on the last day. We were tucked away in a small corner of the building and not really visible to anybody. So it was a great feeling to know that he had walked our way to see the collection. He really enjoyed our style and featured us a couple of months later, which was one of the biggest highlights from our first season along with a feature on Hypebeast.


FY: – In terms of style, northern Europe  is just beginning to find  international reward. As a Danish, what do you think? Which will be, in your opinion, the near futures developments?

M.A: The clean minimal and often dark style has definitely made its entry to the international market over the last couple of years. In the menswear market, I think the Swedes are really pushing their way through and with great success. I don’t really see the same international reward from the bigger Danish companies, it’s more the smaller “streetwear” brands that are finding their way into the market. Brands like Norse Projects and Wood Wood have really showed the ability to create a success abroad. Seeing the expansion of more independent flagship stores popping up around the world, like the newly opened ACNE store in Tokyo, is a good sign that we haven’t yet seen the peak of the northern European style. I think that wearable fashion has big appeal to people and will be the future of fashion.


FY: – House of Montague combines the European  manufacturing  tradition with the essential and  avant-garde Danish lines… How did you achieve this balance and how did the international market react ?

M.A: From the get go I decided that we would utilize the European skilled labor and manufacturing traditions. I wanted to create a high quality product made entirely in Europe with European leathers and materials. It was very important that we worked together with a factory that understood what we were trying to bring to the market. This was of course a bit a harder than it sounds because it’s not really up to you through the entire process but sometimes luck plays a small part as well. With a great manufacture, everything is possible, and the first samples we received were on point. All our styles takes inspiration from classic shoes that I believe every guy should possess in his wardrobe. My intention was to make silhouettes that were highly recognizable but utilizing details on silhouettes that you wouldn’t normally relate them too. Like our Rozanna, where we have an Achilles heel protector that is normally seen on tennis shoes but a great detail on our Derby inspired sneaker. Also we have the duffel coat wooden toggles incorporated with the lacing system, which has proven a great but simple detail setting our shoes aside from the rest. Our Frederikke style takes inspiration from a desert boot but we have used the iconic tassels normally seen on boat shoes. I think I achieved the balance without over thinking the process and just playing around with ideas that I thought would go well together. Remember it was just a side project to start with and a lot of the silhouettes were created when there was no business to it, so I think it took the pressure of a bit. Launching the first collection I choose a mix of styles I enjoyed the most and styles that would compliment each other without stealing focus from each other. When we finally launched it was fantastic to see how stores, blogs, fashion editors but most important end-consumers greeted our products. We have been lucky to work with more established brands from the first season like the Korean label Wooyoungmi who has stocked our shoes in their concept store Manmade. A market we didn’t expect to reach that quickly.


FY: – What is the  House of Montagues  mood? And the Martin Ahns one?

M.A: House of Montague’s mood is a clash between classic menswear and streetwear mixed with some fashion impulses. My own mood changes a lot and can be everything from very simple, almost boring, too very color-and playful filled with accessories. Sometimes I like going back to my own roots and just rock some baggy sweats. But I have personally grown more into darker colors than I used to. I signed up to tumble to create my own online moodboard for everyone to follow if they are interested. This clearly reflects my many moods and hopefully will help people see my different influences in our collections.


FY: – Which are the shoes you prefer to wear?

M.A: I have always been a high-top guy so I am mostly wearing Malene or Frederikke.


FY: – Which  is the collection  which you feel closest to?

M.A: AW 13 is the best collection so far from my own perspective.

We have a few re-runners in there like our rainboot but we have had time to perfect it based on the previous seasons learning’s. Also I think I have been better to show what House of Montague is and take better risk on materials, and colors used in the collection.


FY: – For 2013-14 s A/W you  have inspired to America, to the golden age one … Tell us about!

M.A: I work on conceptualizing each collection like others would do when designing a full garment collection.

For the AW 13, I was exploring the wild west and gold rush era in America. It was a time filled with hope, dreams and a lot of hard work. A time I can relate too, at this moment. This collection marks our fourth collection and I feel that we have struck gold in the sense that we have finally found our DNA and people are beginning to understand who we are and what we are trying to accomplish. So I am filled with hope and dreams for the future but aware that the hard work to reach our goals are filled with hard work.

In the collection there is a lot of influences within the details and color schemes from that period. We have incorporated perforated prints and waxed treatments on the toecaps for a more rugged look while not straying away from classic menswear details. Also we added straps to our desertboot for a cowboy boot look and the reactions have been really positive. The era provides so many great details and looking at the landscape provides a fantastic color palette of earth colors great for fall.


FY: – Cecilie, Frederikke, Julie, Malene, Rozanna… These are not  names for women but for the models you proposed… If I can ask, what is your favorite one?

M.A: That’s really a hard question, it’s like asking who’s your favorite child.

I think my personal style goes best together with Malene but I enjoy all styles.


FY: – Your motto?

M.A: Designed in Denmark/Handcrafted in Portugal. It’s very important for everybody to know that we are a European company and that everything that we do is created within Europe. With the globalized world and stagnant economy that has really set its mark on Europe, especially in southern Europe, I believe that we as Europeans have to look inward and stop outsourcing everything too Asia. It may sound a bit protectionist but more a realization that there is a big demand for quality European products out there. Instead of chasing the cheapest labor around the world and creating cheap disposable products, we should focus more on creating quality products that will stand the test of time and at the same time rebuild Europe’s almost lost production capacity.

Thanks a lot!