Considering the way that streetwear has swept the realms of fashion off its feet in the past couple of years A-COLD-WALL* was always going to have a perceived meteoric rise to prominence off the back of it. Samuel Ross, designer and creator of the brand, however I imagine would categorically argue against that. In-fact the impressive growth has come as a result of a combination of an infectious work ethic, a humble upbringing that is reflected in his work along with a non-traditional pathway to where he is now.
The brand which he self describes as “avant-garde”, but only to people who he’s not 100% sure will understand the brand. To those who do, he details it as something that represents the upbringing he’s had around him. The concept of a the melting pot of dense areas (London) where the relationships between class systems reign king. The garments themselves are a strong combination between tech and streetwear, whilst displaying his strong insight and love for architecture and graphic design.
The significant impact London has seemingly had on the creation and ideology for A-COLD-WALL* will surely have been enhanced by the time he spent in Northampton. After growing up in Brixton his family moved out, trying to avoid an area which was then known for gang violence yet is now full of young designers who would kill for the opportunity to work with the man himself. His time in Northampton skewed his pathway into fashion. Under the impression it was an unattainable career of sorts whilst living there he pursued a degree in graphic design. This progressed into a career where he started at an ad agency in Leicester, graphic designing homeware.
Whilst doing this he started to build his personal brand in any spare time that he had, whether it was at the club on his laptop or in the basement at his cousins birthday, he was working. In fields ranging from graphic design to short film (all of which are still out there on the internet for you to find) he also made time to constantly email and research ways of getting into fashion, wanting to follow in the footsteps of those who inspired him. Then the day came where he was on Virgil Abloh’s instagram account. After an initial reluctance to even follow him due to unfathomable thought that Virgil might even acknowledge him, he did. Not only did Virgil follow back straight away, but dialogue started after Virgil liked a few of his photos (Samuel used used this to great benefit, quitting his job in Leicester and getting a new job in London on significantly more pay, all off the back of these emails) and over a period of 6 months and a significant amount of projects, including supporting Virgil on Kanye’s show work, it eventually manifested into a full time role under Virgil and Donda (The Kanye West founded creative agency).
As the role continued to grow and he continued to be inspired by the likes of Virgil and the Donda crew he wanted to go in his own direction, something that was more personal and relevant to himself. This was A-COLD-WALL*. Something which first became real at a Selfridges panel with Virgil himself 5 years ago, as Samuel tried to convey the ideology of the brand to a group of listeners. Off the back of this he quit working with Virgil and Donda and tackled A-COLD-WALL* as an art project first, with the idea of turning it into a business kept firmly at the back of his mind, again inspired by those who he had initially researched to get into the field of fashion in the first place.
From then on he has managed to develop a brand over several years that are worlds apart from his previous days of selling fake Nike clothing. The most polarising point being the fact he’s managed to get his own collaboration with Nike, releasing a limited pair of air force ones which sell for upwards of a £1000. However he’s remained true to his brand, without having the knock on effect of the financial growth, stating that A-COLD-WALL* was actually Selfridge’s best selling contemporary brand for 27 days in a row with insane sell-throughs, whilst as a whole hitting £3.5m from last seasons collection. The most impressive aspect of the growth, along with not straying away from his roots, is the fact it’s all organic. He’s managed to remain debt free within the brand, whilst helping fund the growth through relinquishing a “substantial minority stake” to Tomorrow London Holdings back in January.
The latest personal step Samuel has taken is managing to become a finalist in the prestigious LMVH competition, unfortunately even though he didn’t win (the award went to X) however he didn’t take it to heart, acknowledging the fact that even being a participant was a win in his book. So, what’s the next move for him to take to further establish the brand amongst the conglomerates of the fashion world? Open up their first permanent fixture. He could certainly make the most of his architectural knowledge there. And as for following in his mentors footsteps and becoming a leader at one of the staple fashion houses? He says “with time”, at only 27, he’s got plenty to be fair.