Samuel Ross was conspicuous by his absence from London’s menswear schedule this season. Or, to be more precise, by the nature of his presence. In place of the runway events which have become one of the week’s most theatrical talking points, A-COLD-WALL* staged an installation in a long, darkened room, miles from the rest of the shows — and devoted that installation in its entirety to reinterpretations of the classic M-65 military jacket.
In many respects, the event was of a piece with everything Ross has done in the five-year-span of A-COLD-WALL*’s existence; independent, impactful, and engineered to connect directly with an end-user audience. But its focus also signalled a newfound sense of singleminded-ness, in a designer about to embark on the next stage of his career. As he made his debut on the Italian menswear schedule, showing a sleekly tailored collection at Milan’s Palazzo del Ghiaccio, Nowfashion spoke to Ross about collaborations, changing cities, and challenging the fashion calendar.
You’ve had, by any standards, remarkable success since you launched in 2015. Looking back, what are the standout moments?
SR: I’d say one of the most significant moments was building a concise language, and weighted opinion, within the early years of a A-COLD-WALL*. It’s nourished much of the growth seen, whilst offering specific elements to be isolated and refined upon. Recent renaissance moments, to be completely honest, would be Autumn 2020 - it’s a seminal shift. A clear decision to render a world and [an] opinion within menswear; it’s a maturing, and a sign of permanence.
This past year has seen A-COLD-WALL* engage in multiple collaborations - Nike, Oakley, and most recently Diesel. How do these projects sit alongside your own label - do you see a relationship, or are they entirely standalone?
Indeed. It’s closer to a tapestry. The collaborations mentioned weave in and out of the A-COLD-WALL* universe, with a selection being standalone collaborations that transport our known aesthetic into differing contexts, such as Oakley - and the others sharpening elements of [that aesthetic].
You’ve spoken in the past about what drove you to pursue a career in fashion. What drives you now?
What drives me now is the pursuit to build a narrative that finds buoyancy between the artisan, the intellect and the working professional. I’m driving by the notion of how modernity should, and can look - a subtle sense of uniform, that is able to carry a value system.
You’re showing in Milan rather than London this season - how did that come about? And does this mean a more long-term shift away from showing in London?
Yes, It’s quite exciting, to be able to show such a seminal shift in my journey within Milan, a city steeped in such menswear history. London is home and remains an integral part of my journey. My interest sits with activating London, and pushing how the brand and myself engage with our city.
What can you tell us about your AW20 presentation?
It’s a step into sophisticated permanence. It’s incredibly honest. There’s been no culling of concept, yet menswear and incredibly well-made clothing is the focus here and will continue to be. There’ is a clear refinement, a choice has been made - I’ve chosen to speak, with my peers, community artisans, intellects & deep thinkers. More than anything, a sense of integrity reigns throughout the collection.
Five years ago, you described the label as ‘a continuous representation of clashing worlds.’ Does that description still hold true?
I’d say there’s a much tighter narrative now. sense of cohesion in place versus the collisions necessary in the earlier years of A-COLD-WALL*. Across the past year, much thought and rebuilding have taken place regarding direction. I’m fascinated by the idea of systems, smarter forms of expression and proficient design - though more of a channel of thought, it will give you an idea on my current thought process.
The conversation about the relevance of fashion seasons and fashion weeks continues to overshadow the current calendar. What’s your take on this?
There is a key necessity and opportunity amongst global fashion weeks to communicate a value system, reflect upon society and proposition what modernity could look like. Though I do believe designers and brands should be precious and precise regarding how frequent these matters need to happen.
Finally, what’s next for A-COLD-WALL* - and for Samuel Ross?
A series of conversations and exchanges within a tight community of artisans.