Samuel Ross: Streetwear’s New Star

Kelly Washington introduces streetwear’s new kid on the block, Samuel Ross - founder of cult brand A-Cold-Wall* and winner of the British Fashion Council’s Emerging Menswear Designer award.

He’s the 27-year-old British designer behind a streetwear brand with a story to tell, A-Cold-Wall*. Founded in 2015, the brand has built a reputation for its cult-like fan-base, who love his minimalist designs. A-Cold-Wall* takes inspiration from the relationship between youth culture and the environment that shapes it, which is expressed through the use of clean lines, a monochrome color palette and oversized-everything.

A-Cold-Wall*’s classic look includes high-neck jersey T-shirts in black with the abbreviated A-Cold-Wall* logo printed in the centre, paired with industrial cargo or nylon pants that come in grey and teal colourways. Practical and stylish in form, Ross knows how to accessorise his streetwear. His range of body holsters with asymmetric compartments are a must-have to complete the A-Cold-Wall* look. With stockists in the US (including New York and LA), and across Asia and Europe, A-Cold-Wall* has a strong presence in high-end department stores across the globe, and rightly so.

Samuel Ross believes in the value of hard work – in pushing for what you believe in. After achieving  a first-class degree in Graphic Design from England’s De Montfort University, Ross worked for industrial brands as a graphic product designerbut that wasn’t enough. Ambitious, confident, and with four carefully prepared portfolios under his belt, Ross relentlessly emailed Off-White founder and Louis Vuitton Men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh’s team before eventually securing an internship with Abloh himself. By 2014, he was in Paris rubbing shoulders with the likes of Kanye West, the musician who has added streetwear fashion to his list of passions.

Photo: Ottilie Landmark

When we meet, Ross is poised and with purpose, dressed in all black with a thick white ceramic chain around his neck andnaturally, A-Cold-Walltrainers (from his latest collaboration with Nike). He is heavily tattooed, from his head to his hands, which serves as another outlet for his creative expression. He has a Roman sundial on one hand, ivy on his neck, and lettering on his arms. He has a presence, no doubt, but he’s never overbearing nor intimidating. What is instantly clear is that he takes what he does very seriously. Samuel Ross is polite, self-aware and effortlessly cool.

His eye for advertising and obsession with modern consumerism began at a young age. He started out selling fake Adidas and Nikes at the age of 14 in the streets of working-class Leicester. Ross and his friends sported grey, navy and black tracksuits. He says that the decision to wear these clothes was a sentimental one, despite the rather pragmatic nature of streetwear. He noted from an early age  “the emotional tie between fabric and kinship, and what that meant in a working-class area, and that narrative really informs the work I produce with A-Cold-Wall*.” Just 22 when he started working with Virgil Abloh and Kanye West, Ross quickly learned to be fearless with his ideas, and to ensure that there is always a personal and emotional influence behind his work.

Ross’ work isn’t just aesthetically compelling, it’s practical too. His recent collaboration with Nike (launched in December 2018) saw the creation of a new Air Force with sustainable Flyleather, the A-Cold-Wall* x Nike Air Force 1.  He describes his approach as “silent innovation” – the idea that the material possesses hidden technologies that move toward a more sustainable future. His aim was to create a shoe that speaks to our time, and the issues that we are facing now. The relationship with Nike began when Ross created a bespoke Air Force for A-Cold-Wall*’s debut runway show in 2017, a shoe that he never intended to release. In response to the positive feedback, the model actually went into production a testament to his talent. It was the first Air Force to strip off the ubiquitous Nike tick, leave the perforation holes and reduce the lacing system.

Photo:  Nike

Ross is optimistic about the future of streetwear. He ponders the rising influence of tailoring and what that means for the genre: “I think tailoring is a really good segue between often what are the intellectual ideas in streetwear that can’t be formated through jersey. So I don’t think necessarily that tailoring will take over– what we’re seeing [is] streetwear designers becoming more confident in moving into different territories.”

Ross claims that he didn’t necessarily want to be a part of the fashion industry. “I would have done it without any support or the lens being on me.” He is more interested in the philosophy and ethos of design, coupled with the inspiration that there is  a story to be told through the garment as an object. “I’d say that the British fashion industry kind of found me, more so than I was looking for a home anyway.”

In a fashion industry that can be surprisingly conventional, Ross is a new voice with new ideas. Emerging designer? The truth is he’s already emerged. Now watch him flourish.

The page could not be loaded!