Martial arts meets high fashion and activism in a creative explosion of female rage

Margot Charbonnier, founder of talks us through its latest collection GB2021-club, a merging of sport and feminism.

4 May 2021


The Berlin-based fashion label has always done things a little differently. First off, it embraces slow fashion and each season of its luxury imprint Grand Bassin centres on a specific sport. Its latest line is no exception, merging martial arts with high fashion in an explosion of creative rage which the label’s founder, Margot Charbonnier, tells us about. “As a woman and as a woman designer, I am genuinely pissed off. I chose to embrace this rage and use it as a productive force and a creative tool to design the collection.”

GB2021-club, the title of the latest collection, is Margot’s most personal collection by far; “I was willing to demonstrate more recklessly social commitment through design.” The collection investigates female martial arts while touching on the social spaces which do not welcome women. The garments are physical explorations of gendered expectations, and Margot interestingly subverts expressions of anger through fashion design. A way to “speak out and provoke” too. The founder adds, “Sport and fashion are male dominated industries and it is very urgent to offer new roles to models and girls, from the athletes we showcase on TV to the designers who create their clothes.”

Margot studied social sciences and fashion, at Duperré in Paris and Central Saint Martins respectively, before establishing in 2015. Grand Bassin came about later, a merging together of her dual background and touching on elements of anthropology as well as fashion design. As a conceptual sportswear label, Margot experiments with usability and progressive technologies, then mixes social questions into the mix which in turn, adds a richness to the art direction and overall creation of the challenging looks. “We create only interactive clothing, incorporating daily rituals and physicality into the design,” adds Margot, and by this she means, “pieces to be actioned, customised and transformed by the customer.”

So when it came to designing GB2021-club, Margot wanted to find a way to create a line of clothing which acts as an “extension of sport, politics and fashion”, encapsulating that moment that you get ready for a fight. She landed on using the hand-wrap technique that boxers use to strap hands before a fight, a ritual which is both symbolic and practical to boxers. Therefore, the collection is saying something more significant than the adorning of clothes. Margot expands: “In showcasing the moment we put the clothes on, the moment we make them our own, we wish to highlight the power of actions. How our trivial, imperceptible, individual and singular actions can have political and social impacts and participate in collective change.”

GB2021-club not only shines a light on women in sport but also comments on their power “via the re-learning of their physicality and the destigmatisation of their legitimate anger”. Produced with high-end workmanship with slow fashion techniques, the collection is unique in its positioning of single pieces as opposed to the usual top and bottoms combination. With this in mind, the collection can be custom tailored to fit any body types.

Previously, has tackled a range of sports including swimming, dance, horse racing and more, and throughout all its collections, there is one consistent asset that runs through the design. The wearer can indefinitely repurpose the garment towards its poignant social messaging too. Consumers are encouraged to take the time to think about, and disrupt the ready-to-wear market with the clothing’s activist intentions. All the collections are accompanied with stories which add another layer to the collection’s narrative, in turn prolonging the line’s interest and experience. Margot concludes: “The fashion moment is extended with the times to produce, consume, to dress and undress, live in our clothes with versatility and wear long-lasting pieces which reinvent themselves with the users.

Hero Header

Copyright ©, 2021

Share Article

About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.