THE ICONIC MAISON MARGIELA TAG AND STITCHING
Maison Martin Margiela is an enigma, a designer who has operated within his namesake brand from 1988 till 2009 whilst maintaining an alluring veil of anonymity. The simple white tag used on Margiela garments reflects the designer's personal ideology, attached with no branding and just four single stitches affixing it to the fabric. Visible below the neckline on the back of Maison Margiela garments, the four angular stitches are a discreet signifier of the avante-garde brand to those in the know.
Jenny Meirens, Margiela’s creative partner, told the New York Times “When people come into a shop and see strong clothes with no name on them they are going to be more curious.”. Until 1997, the tag was completely bare, but this changed with the introduction of Margiela’s famed number labelling system. From 0 to 23, Margiela’s numbers denote the lines that make up the brand, a utilitarian and conceptual approach to differentiation. Out of the sequence, just 10 of the numbers are in regular use, often in combination when a piece crosses two or more lines.
MAISON MARGIELA LINES: THE MEANING BEHIND THE NUMBERS
Line 1 was the first of the new numbering system, ‘The Collection for Women’ introduced in 1988. It would be ten years until Line 10 was revealed, ‘The Collection for Men’, debuting ing spring summer 1999. Both of these lines featured Margiela’s Replica Line, conceived of in 1994, as a component of the women's line. Margiela’s Replica GAT sneakers are a classic example from the Replica Line.
Tags which feature a 0 (womenswear), and ‘0 10’ (menswear) are garments remodelled by hand. These are part of Margielas ‘Artisinal Line’, developed in 2006 for a collection of garments created in smaller batches and reliant on found materials. Margiela’s namesake was a vessel through which the artist and designer could realise his art. The Artisanal Line epitomises Margiela the artist, working through the medium of fashion.
Line 22 is perhaps one of the most well known, ‘A Collection of Shoes for Women & Men’. This is where the iconic 'tabi boot' in its countless variations sits. The line was introduced in 1998 though it had its beginnings in womenswear exclusively.
0: Garments remodelled by hand for women
0 10: Garments remodelled by hand for men
1 The collection for women 1988
3 Fragrances. 2010. ‘Untitled’ unisex fragrance.
4 Womens garderobe (S/S 2004)
8 Eyewear (S/S 2008)
10 The collection for men. (S/S 1999)
12 Jewelery (2008)
11 A collection of accessories for women & men
13 Objects & publications
14 A wardrobe for men. (S/S 2005)
15 Margiela x 3 Suisses. (1999)
‘22: A collection of shoes for women & men’ (1998)
Replica Line (1994)
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE YEAR AND SEASON FOR MAISON MARGIELA USING SERIAL CODES
LINES 10 & 14
For lines 10 and 14, ‘The Collection for Men’ and ‘The Wardrobe for Men’, the care label will include a code identifying the year and season. This is the easiest way to date Maison Margiela. This will also be present for most other lines with the exception of shoes (22) and Miss Deanna knitwear.
Items from 2010-PRESENT, the year can be found as a simple four-digit date, which is followed by the number 1 or 2 for spring summer and autumn winter respectively.
Older releases from lines 2001-2009 will feature a COMM number which is similar to a serial code. The last four digits will indicate the year and season of release. In this example below, 004 means 2004 followed by the number 2 for autumn winter.
Most items from this period are printed with the 'COLLECTION PRINTEMPS ETE" (spring summer) or "COLLECTION AUTOMNE HIVER" (autumn winter) which will include the year of production on the white label. Due to their age these will often be faded.
Most items from this period of Maison Margiela are almost impossible to date because the wash tags are so easily lost or faded. The best route is to find a look-book online to use as a reference. Firstview is a good resource but only goes back to 1997 for womenswear. The Truss App also contains thousands of identified Maison Margiela items going back all the way to 1989.