The Real Thing: Martine and Juan
Something crazy happens on Mondays during the summer season in the little town of Montauk at the very tip of Long Island…the crowds leave. Though the ringing in your ears might be lingering a bit and the occasional beer cans might still spot the sidewalks, peace and quiet are more or less restored. You get the beaches to yourself and can take pride in being in the company of the real Montauk peeps…the true blues. This is when we think the real magic happens.
During the week and off-season Montauk feels like an oasis of good vibes and down to earth people, and it’s largely due to folks like Martine and Juan, the lovely couple behind the boutique and gallery space they double-handedly manage from top to bottom. Tucked away between Happy Bowls and Gringo’s Burrito Grill on Main Street, one gets the feeling that they’re discovering something before even stepping foot into the store, but this is just the beginning. Once you have a look around and get to know them just a little bit, it makes perfect sense that they simply called the shop Martine and Juan as their personalities have informed every aspect of it and it stands as a shrine to their interests and lifestyle. Luckily, the two of them are as chill and unpretentious as the store’s unique array of items and both the space and its creators are warm welcoming.
We recently paid them a little visit and asked Juan to answer some questions so that we could share a glimpse into their world with you. There’s nothing like the real thing however, and as Juan explains below some things are better IRL than on the Internet. Enjoy this teaser, but then strut on down to Main Street for the full experience.
How did the two of you meet?
Our really good friends introduced us.
It just seemed like a place that we could be creative, there’s a real energy that exists here.
How long have you had this space and how has it evolved in that time?
This is our third year with the store. It’s constantly evolving. Every year it seems like we just have an interest and we go to work on those ideas and create spaces that totally contrast the year prior. Every year we seem to learn so much about this practice, and we really love to play which is an important part of everything that we do.
What is your favorite piece currently in the shop?
One thing is going to be tricky. I really love Peter Sutherland’s rock sculpture that we have on our shelf and the knit shirts I made for the Martine and Juan men’s line.
Every item is quite unique – is it ever hard to part ways?
I think it’s very hard for the best pieces to stay in the store without Martine taking them or wearing them 😉 But, no, never, I’m happy when I see someone find something that really connects and is a special item…that’s good feeling.
How often do the artworks in the gallery rotate and how do you go about choosing what to exhibit?
Normally the space has a show every month. Sometimes we split it into two two-week shows a month. The space is a platform for friends and people we meet through different channels, so generally we exhibit artwork that relates to connections we’ve made.
What is the common thread (mind the pun) between all of the items that find their way into the store?
The thread would be our eyes. We enjoy curating and traveling and mix that up and the outcome is basically the store.
What are some of your influences/sources of inspiration and how do you typically begin a piece?
I’m typically influenced by creative people (past and present) as well as functional clothing items that can be found at the hardware store (like painter pants, etc.). We love images of music scenes from around the world and how musicians wear their clothes and move around on stage. Pictures are very, very important to our process. Everything that we’ve ever made has stemmed from vintage clothing and of course some of our favorite designers. Throughout everything, nature is definitely a really inspiring element and I think that’s the reason we live out here.
How do you strike a balance between appealing to the influx of visitors and maintaining authenticity with locals?
Have good energy and be open to conversation. Authenticity is something that one shouldn’t think about – you should just be who you are, always.
Do you foresee doing e-commerce or expanding your offerings in the not too distant future?
I recently watched a YouTube video of Mark Gonzalez (a skateboarder that I really enjoy), it was from 1999 I think, and he said something in the conversation that really struck a note to this question…he said: “the future isn’t here, it’s all about the present.” So at the moment I think that the store acts as a place where you can find things in a really unique way if you’re in Montauk and you happen to come in here and something relates to you. I think that makes you feel lucky that you found something that you can’t find online…it’s just here and now.
Original Photography by Sasha Landskov.