A multi-hyphenate is an individual who has multiple skills or professions, a perfect example of this would be Samuel Ross . He started out in graphic design, but today he runs a successful fashion brand A-Cold-Wall (ACW). He’s also an activist within the fashion industry, advocating for change in an industry stuck in its old ways. He wants to find solutions to the industry's habit of hyper-consumption and he also fights for the equal representation of people of color in the business.
At the age of 29, Samuel Ross is already very accomplished in the fashion space having worked with the likes of Virgil Abloh and Kanye West. He’s won a British Fashion Award and was a finalist for the LVMH prize. He first connected with Virgil Abloh through Instagram, and even though that might entail some elements of luck, Samuel has always been persistent about his work. He ended up working with Virgil for three and half years, from there he joined Kanye’s creative content company, Donda. These invaluable experiences were key elements in the making of his own brand ACW, which he established in 2015. The brand’s meteoric rise has led to notable collaborations with Nike and Converse to name a few.
The year of 2020 forced many of us to reflect on our personal values and beliefs. This has led to Samuel Ross wanting to have more conversations regarding the consumption habits and racism within the fashion industry. The brand’s AW20 collection reflects his changing perspective.
"It’s about the efficiency of a product, rather than saturation. Saturation is a crisis in streetwear and I don’t agree with it. Morally, ethically, what it puts forth in terms of consumption…"
- Samuel Ross
The brand has dramatically decreased the number of SKU’s in its collection and the focus has been put on the quality of materials. It’s quite obvious that the fashion industry must update it’s archaic practice standards, not only when it comes to sustainability but also it’s treatment of people of color. He spoke about this in an interview with British Vogue in which in he said:
"I think this time is gonna force our industry to update its purpose and mechanisms. This is the age of service – in terms of community, relationships and business operations. We need to look at how our industry can actually add to the human narrative for the next hundred years. We’re bringing Black economics into the 21st century."
Last year he was able to use his platform and resources to support black business owners and artists that have struggled due to the effects of the global pandemic. He is also always working to support black designers in order to increase the representation of black and brown people in fashion.
There’s still so much left to see from Samuel Ross and his career in fashion. Judging by his growth in the past few years, we are in for some more great design and fashion. The evolved purpose and values behind the products is what will stand the test of time and hopefully influence other people and brands in fashion.
Written by: Ian Lufitha