British designer Samuel Ross launched his streetwear menswear label A-COLD-WALL* in late 2015, swiftly gaining the attention of press and buyers alike. The former product designer, Virgil Abloh protégé, and a finalist for both the LVMH Prize and ANDAM Award, studied Graphic Design and Illustration at De Montfort University in Leicester. Following graduation, he went into commercial design, simultaneously pursuing professional work alongside his own creative output, which spanned experimental film, street art and a streetwear label entitled 2wnt4, conceived with friend Ace Harper.
In April 2013, Ross was spotted by Off-White founder Virgil Abloh, who hired Ross to work for him as a creative assistant at Off-White as well as at Kanye West’s Yeezy. Shortly after, the designer, then aged 25, founded A-COLD-WALL* as a self-funded label inspired by the British class system, reflecting his personal story of growing up in a working-class neighbourhood and studying design. Since launching the label, Ross has gained a steadfast following, landing him global stockists including Barneys New York, GR8 in Tokyo and Selfridges in London.
In 2017, A-COLD-WALL* was one of the NEWGEN recipients. The following year, Ross unveiled A-COLD-WALL*’s first womenswear line. Like his menswear offering, each piece proposed an architectural exploration, a collision of diverse forms and surface. The construction of a t-shirt or jacket became asymmetrical, finished with uneven dying, visible stitching, masking tape and graphics – details which have become synonymous with the brand’s particular aesthetic.
Ross talks of his youth as a vital source of inspiration and influence for his work and motives. He left the estates of his childhood a decade ago and is now employing more than 20 people to work for his burgeoning brand. Seminally, the designer believes fashion is a force for change, and while he can speak articulately about politics and the disenfranchisement of the digital generation, he himself has become the model of the progress he endeavours to foster.
While his previous offerings have been encased within energetic performances and hyper-cerebral narratives, for his A/W19 collection there was a newfound quiet confidence made palpable. The focus of the clothes was on technique, texture and surface, but as always Ross kept utilitarian practicality and wearability, that is synonymous with A-COLD-WALL*, at the forefront. Sculptural looks constructed around a cage-like harness supporting sheets of transparent rustling plastic peppered the collection acting as a stark contrast.
On his role:
“My job is to express a lot of information that’s been misconstrued, or misunderstood, or that people don’t know really exists. I’m almost re-introducing and celebrating a new phase of British culture that people just didn’t know existed. I feel like it’s my job to present these new ideas and push more radical ideas and extremes. A kid who has no education, if he was to push a similar idea, it might get shut down because he hasn’t gone through the process of what it takes to go through an idea, whereas I have. So, it’s my job to make sure that the purest form of what I know is expressed and represented appropriately. My job is really not to make people necessarily feel comfortable but to present a new way and a new idea of doing things.” – SSENSE, 2016
“A lot of it is down to chance, but if you keep putting out work again and again, the likelihood that it’s going to be noticed. I was pretty much acting as four different people at one time when I was around 21, 22. There were four different personas putting out four different things, one for streetwear, one for street art, one I was doing film under and one for graphic design. It was really just over-strategising, I remember sending loads of emails to London brands and figures, and getting ignored. But I knew one of them was going to hit. And it did.” – Dazed, 2018
On avoiding fashion references:
“The only thing I look at in terms of fashion references is price points, but I don’t look at designs. And I feel like it’s dangerous to do so, as a young new brand, to allow other information to kind of influence your direction, I think its damaging in terms of like a long-term growth pattern. If someone had a 2-year plan for a small brand, they can reference all they want, because it’s a short business plan, but if such as ourselves, you plan to have a brand for a long period of time, I think it’s important to allow yourself to build a tapestry independently.” – Esquire, 2018
Feature image: A-COLD-WALL*, Menswear Collection, Fall/Winter 2019 in London (via NowFashion)