PARIS — Y. Project is back.

The French upscale men’s wear label, best known for its avant-garde basics with a distinctive cut, has tapped Belgian designer Glenn Martens to become the new creative director.

The brand has been laying low since founder Yohan Serfaty died in April of cancer.

Martens, who served as Serfaty’s first assistant when the independent brand was launched in 2010, will present his debut collection in January, marking the label’s return to the official Paris fashion calendar. It skipped last season due to Serfaty’s illness.

“I want to build with respect on what Yohan started,” Martens told WWD. “It’s more about regenerating the brand than bringing a fast change.”

There will be freshness, nonetheless. Martens, who decided to put his label on standby to concentrate on Y. Project, said he plans to bring in more color to the brand’s inherently dark side and introduce more technical fabrics to its range of natural materials. Tailoring and construction will become “even more experimental,” in keeping with Serfaty’s high level of craftsmanship. “All in all, the range is wider,” Martens said.

A 2008 graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, the Bruges native was recruited by Jean Paul Gaultier to become junior designer for the women’s pre-collection during his final year at school. He then moved on to G2, Gaultier’s men’s label, and eventually set up his own in 2012.

In his new role, Martens is also expected to revamp Y. Project’s visual image. A new Web site and video depicting the label’s “artistic background” are already in the works, he said. Additionally, the show in January will include a preview of the brand’s first women’s collection, to be presented during Paris Fashion Week in March, setting in motion yet another venture.

Y. Project is stocked in 30 multibrand stores around the world, including such insider venues as H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles, I.T in Hong Kong and Darklands in Berlin.

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