The Meaning Behind the Maison Margiela Label
The Meaning Behind the Maison Margiela Label

The Meaning Behind the Maison Margiela Label

Words by Georgia Gordon

Founded in 1988 by Belgian designer Martin Margiela, the house of Margiela is known for its deconstructive and avant garde approach.  The concept of anonymity is central to the brand.  Martin Margiela was famously discrete, refusing to be interviewed.  On the catwalk, models' faces were obscured so that the focus would remain on the clothes alone.  This idea of anonymity and discretion is also present in the actual clothing labels themselves.  When the brand launched in 1988, completely white labels were sewn onto garments held on by a white basting stitch on each of the four corners of the label.  These four white stitches were intentionally loosely sewn on so they could be easily removed, meaning there would be no logo or label visible anywhere, rendering the piece 'unidentifiable'.  Below is an example of one of these labels still intact on an archive piece here at IRVRSBL.  

Margiela White Stitch Label

In 1997, these labels mostly changed to display the numbers 0-23 with one of the numbers circled depending on which line that piece came from. Here, we have listed which numbers represent a different Margiela line and what that line is.  

0 - Artisanal (For Women and Men)

Starting in 1988, Margiela's Artisanal collections comprise of a mix of various garments and objects Martin Margiela had sourced from all over the world.  These are then deconstructed and formed into garments by hand in the houses atelier.  Margiela had always been passionate about giving a second life and this collection is consider 'upcycling'

1 - Women's Collection

This particular line is Margiela's exploration of avant garde design for women.  The pieces were always unique and this line continued until 2008.  

4 - Women's Garderobe

In 2004 Margiela created a womenswear line that was focused more on feminine design as opposed to his usual avant-garde approach.

6 - MM6

MM6 is Margiela's diffusion line.  These pieces do not have the same numbered labels that Margiela's mainline pieces have.  Instead, the logo plays on this concept with the two capital M's followed by the number 6, circled as it would be on classic Margiela garments.  

8 - Eyewear

If the number 8 is circled on the label, it will be a part of Margiela’s eyewear collection. This collection first began in 2008 and has continued ever since.

10 – Man’s Collection

This is the male equivalent of line number 1. Here is the label on a number 10 piece from our archives.

11 – Accessories

Starting in 2005, Margiela’s accessory line comprises of men’s, women’s and unisex handbags, belts, leather goods and some jewellery.

12 – Jewellery

In a 2008 collaboration with Damiani Group, line 12 – jewellery began.

13 – Objects and Catalogues

This line began in 1999 and usually involves a series of all white objects from magnifying glasses to lamps and candle holders.

14 – Man’s Wardrobe

In 2004, line 14 was introduced and was the male equivalent of line 4.

22 – Footwear

Line 22 is footwear and began in 1998 for women and 2008 for men. Here is a picture of the sole of a pair of Tabi boots from our archives.


Every year since 1994, Margiela has released a “Replica” line which is a capsule collection for both men and women and comprises of functional and emotive clothing and accessories. These garments are inspired by various timeless pieces from all over the world and each Replica label states the time period and country from which it was inspired.

Shop Irvrsbl's selection of vintage Maison Margiela pieces online or read through our other authentication guides.

September 08, 2021 — Georgia Gordon