Urban street folk
Met Samuel Alexander whilst working at Topshop. You know how it is, everyone in retail has another ‘job’, another ‘passion’, another ‘something’ that drives them . Sam was studying for his degree in Fashion design & development at the time at London college of Fashion and I would hear regular updates of how his graduate collection was coming along. Two years later and his work has surfaced. Titled ‘Urban Street Folk’, it’s matured beyond inspiration and colour palettes to an intricate capsule of standout pieces; none of which are designed for the modest wallflower. Incorporating the beauty of traditional herringbone knits with fun layered raffia layers. Part folksy highlander, part tailored gentrification, hook line and sinker I’m intrigued to see where Sam sails next.
1. What/when was your earliest foray into fashion?
I remember in college being extremely confused about what profession I wanted to go into. I had studied sciences in college but always longed to be involved in something creative. I had been drawing ever since I was a child and it was something I supressed into a hobby as I never thought I could make a living out of something I genuinely enjoyed.
There was a careers day back at the college, I went to a local Universities Fashion Degree presentation as a joke, but it backfired when I was completely blown away by what I saw. I fell in love immediately with the freedom, the creativity, the life style. It was probably one of the larger turning points in my life as I started to work towards my creative strengths to make a living rather than opting for a ‘safer’ option.
2. Tell us about your graduate collection.
What can I say? It was a brilliant time for me to create what ever the hell I wanted, and it was also the first time designing menswear, I am so glad that I switched! It was a bit crazy to begin with as it was unfamiliar territory, but I am pretty adaptable and it just seemed so natural to me… I managed to produce some really high a quality and interesting pieces and I finally got to branch out into knitwear too which was something I’ve dreamed of doing. I am looking forward to working with other people to explore my concepts and to gain more perspective on what is considered as ‘good design’.
3. What are your favourite clothing brands and labels?
The short answer is… The ones I can never afford! I have always been drawn to collections and individual pieces as opposed to a ‘designer’ or a ‘brand’, purely because their style can warp and change depending on their own influences and sometimes that’s good for me, and other times not so. I’ve always been quite fond of Gaspard Yurkievich and Juun J just because of their interesting applications to layering and colour which is something I try to consider when designing.
4. Do you ever design with anyone in mind? Who, in your mind embodies the clothes you design?
- It’s a difficult question and I imagine that designers can still be surprised at who chooses to buy/wear their products.
- It would have to be someone who appreciates a considered approach to layering, texture, colour and not afraid of wearing natural animal products… I am a big fan of using wool, leather and suede! I imagine it would be someone who is not so concerned by what other people think of them, they’re comfortable with their identity and also invest in pieces and wear them for a long time, fast and ‘throw-away’ fashion disgusts me.
- My dream customer would be someone wanting to be buried in a woollen military coat with suede fringing and leather elbow patches. But that’s probably being a bit ambitious.
5. Who/what/where do you look for personal inspiration?
I believe there is no real one place to look for inspiration. I get frustrated when people assume that there is some ‘inspiration-database’ that you can just tap into, it’s just not like that as a designer.
I primarily find inspiration from concepts rather than physical, tangible ‘things’; cross-culturalism… an apocalypse… alter-ego’s… It sounds strange but it’s a broader inspiration and creates a story. I fall in love with stories and these drive me to create and evolve ideas and then the whole design process becomes a story. There always has to be an element of fantasy in my design too, life is too short to take such things seriously.
6. You spent time in Japan is that right?
Yes I did, it was a dream come true! I managed to spend 7 weeks in Japan it was nearly 2 years ago now; February 2011. My trip got disrupted though because of the Earthquake, that was a pretty scary time and my paradise had turned into a crisis, it was a really sad time. I wanted to stay in Japan and witness the ‘bleeding’ of the Cherry Blossoms on my birthday but got a flight home a couple of weeks before.
I have made some really great memories though and some even better friends… on top of that, I have the best excuse to go back.
7. What’s next for you?
Well I am cursed with a short attention span and the ability to get bored of things extremely easily, that combined with having next to no money has forced me to embark on a lot of mini projects to gradually earn more money for bigger and better things. I know the fashion industry is extremely difficult to get into so I have decided that I’d like to take a slightly different route.
Currently I am working with a few different people on some creative projects. One of them is a small print design project which focuses on generating a collection of prints with a real focus on graphics and colour. I’ve been working on a website for a long time but it is taking a long while to produce as it’s such a large project and there are many other ideas in my run away train of an imagination. And I also hope to get into clothing again, I’ve got some great knitwear ideas so I certainly haven’t given up on a creative career, I am just looking forward to working with lots of different people on lots of different things. Here’s hoping…