Designed in London and made in Italy, Marc Jacques Burton’s fashion label, MJB has become one of London’s luxury streetwear, worn by almost every celebrity. Ruby Daniel and Ellie Ball had a chance to sit down with Marc at the recent launch of his collaboration with Ellesse to find out what shaped his punk rock-inspired collection and more…
Tell us about your background?
I was born in London and lived here my whole life. My dad’s English and my mum’s French.
Who are your style icons?
I have a lot – but one I love the most is Mick Jagger. Mick’s 70s glam rock style – it’s really audacious and bold and he’s never been afraid of wearing women’s clothing. Lenny Kravitz has an incredible look – I love his rock and roll edge. Also, Dennis Rodman, the former basketball player – he has a care-free, organic attitude to what he wears. Nowadays, a lot of artists have stylists working behind the scenes, but with Dennis, you knew he was choosing his own outfits.
What sparked your interest in fashion?
I studied in Paris for a year and that’s when I really felt like I wanted to create my own fashion brand. I was interning at L’Oreal and a bank called BNP. During my lunch breaks I’d walk by all the designer stores and dream.
One of my first jobs was working in nightlife, promoting parties. I always liked the idea of having an article of clothing that no one else had. I’ve always wanted to be different and tried to be the first to get new brands and designs. Then I took it to the next level and started to create the clothes myself. Being my unapologetic self was my driving force.
What would you never wear?
I’m pretty open and experimental and I’ve never been afraid to stand out. It depends on whether I feel good in something. I think it’s important that you always wear clothes you feel good in. That’s how I try to design – I try and make clothes people will feel their best in. I’ve definitely worn some crazy stuff in my time and will continue to do so.
Do you ever wear a favourite piece to death?
My biker jackets. I’m lucky with my brand, we create a couple each season so I have a fair few!
Who would you dream to work with – dead or alive?
I was really influenced by the late Virgil Abloh, who was the creative director of Louis Vuitton and the founder of Off-White. I was lucky enough to meet and chat with him a number of times. He was so humble and supportive of everyone in the fashion scene. It would have been a dream to work with him. I feel like he’s opened so many doors for all designers and creatives, influencing unlimited possibilities.
We love how you embody the Brit punk scene of the 70s – are you a punk at heart?
What I love about the punks is they originate from London and their fashion and music were really important to them. They were a real tribe, you knew exactly what the punks were and what they stood for. I loved how they expressed themselves, drawing and painting on clothing with their political views and individualism. They were really able to standout.
If you’re not wearing your own label, who do you wear?
I try and support up and coming designers and I’m always open to cool pieces. I’ve always loved Rick Owens, he’s super-talented and has created his own kind of uniform – you immediately recognise his outfits.
With positive change in the fashion industry, towards justice in fashion and sustainability – how are you taking action? What are your thoughts?
There’s still a long way to go, but overall there’s now a real awareness. The benefits of social media and the internet means we have a lot more information and knowledge, so that’s key. With MJB as a brand we’ve always tried to make and design good quality products, with good materials that aren’t just there for a season – people can wear them for years and years. We’ve started to upcycle – for instance we created a pair of boxer shorts, made out of old army fabric. We’re now using organic cotton, we use recycled paper to wrap the goods and we recycle the cardboard boxes. We’re continuously taking steps in the right direction – we’re definitely not perfect yet, but we know where we need to be. I’m excited about the future – the younger generation are very knowledgeable and eco-friendly. I think there’s a lot of hope for new brands.
Tell us about your East London
I LOVE East London, it’s very special to me. My grandmother grew up and lived at the docks in East London and I went on to live in Hoxton, just off Old Street for eight years. I’ve always been inspired by the area – there’s so much great street art. The buildings and open spaces are beautiful and there are so many cool bars and restaurants doing amazing things.
Any East London designers you admire?
I’ve often found myself in the same shows as Craig Green – he’s one of our top British designers. It’s so inspiring being in the same shows as him and seeing, as a young designer, what can be achieved. Every season he does the most incredible show-stopping pieces.
What advice would you give to young designers?
The most important thing is to have the right mind set. It’s like everything in life, if you really want something and believe in yourself, you can attain it. The reality is, that the fashion industry is super-competitive, so you need to understand and believe in your own style and voice. It’s easy to do what everyone else is doing and follow the trends. I’d say, just be yourself and be determined.
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