As the first “gender neutral” and digital-only London Fashion Week commences, a selection of A-Cold-Wall’s most ardent fans – Olu Michael Odukoya, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Hugh Hayden and Bosse Myhr – share why they love wearing Samuel Ross’ designs
Through his brand A-Cold-Wall, British designer Samuel Ross has received acclaim for his intelligent approach to men’s fashion; one that extols the virtues of the everyday, bringing together elements of traditional working-class clothing and traditional Savile Row tailoring. In January, Ross presented his first collection at Milan Fashion Week, a moment that marked five years of A-Cold-Wall and represented a certain coming of age for the label.
“I’m going to map it back to everyday man, and how he moves through space still. So in this show, you are going to see this ode to menswear ... ” the designer said in an interview with Vogue Runway, prior to the show, which riffed on “classic menswear styles”. “You know at the five-year marker I’ve looked at A-Cold-Wall and defined it as a luxury menswear brand versus an artistic project ... I’d say up until the five-year mark it’s been an artistic endeavour. It’s been my narrative and about our community narrative.” Community itself is a key part of A-Cold-Wall; friends, family and fans of the brand span figures from the worlds of fashion and the arts, along with young people who were invited to the show in Milan, and previous shows besides. This extends to the black community, too: last week, amid the Black Lives Matter protests around the world, Ross announced that he would be giving away £25,000 in grants to independent black businesses and a further £10,000 in financial aid to Black Lives Matter itself.
While A-Cold-Wall won’t be taking part in the digital-only London Fashion Week which commences today, we took this opportunity to speak to a selection of the brand’s most ardent fans – Olu Michael Odukoya, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Hugh Hayden and Bosse Myhr – who share precisely why they love wearing Ross’ designs.
Olu Michael Odukoya, Creative Director and Publisher, Modern Matter
“[My relationship with Samuel] is one born out of championing newness, pushing boundaries and celebrating change. There isn’t an official title for our relationship – it’s organic, healthy and formed by mutual respect for each other’s work. Samuel and I are both ideas-led individuals. We often connect to passionately explore new ways of doing things – bouncing off one another in lengthy and passionate calls and more recently, Zoom meetings.
“We had a number of mutual friends who would often say that there were similarities between Samuel and I, and we should endeavour to meet in person. We eventually did, over a leisurely lunch at Rochelle Canteen and talked endlessly about everything – ultimately putting the world to rights. The appreciation for the brand and how Samuel wants to evolve his work, is admirable. It’s about setting a new agenda, with fresh thinking and humanity. It’s complimentary to how I see my own portfolio of work.
“I’m an enthusiast of British designers and A-Cold-Wall was one of the brands that captures that vision. [I respect] his risk-taking approach to design and the intelligent manner of his presentations and the way he executes on the overall message. Samuel has a beautiful way of connecting the dots between design and technology, which I find really refreshing.
“I’m lucky enough to have a few pieces – my favourites being the waterproof outerwear and some pieces from the A-Cold-Wall/NIKE collaboration. A-Cold-Wall garments put you in an intelligent state of mind, the items are not just fashion – they give you a confidence that is beyond regular ready-to-wear and instead project a much deeper external discussion.”
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, London
“I first met Samuel Ross around four years ago as part of our research into emerging artists, architects and designers. Then later I was part of the jury for the HUBLOT Prize, which we host at the Serpentine, which Samuel won last year. Samuel is the perfect winner for this wonderful prize which really highlights the work of designers who are already successful and are on their way to be one of the great names. The spirit of the HUBLOT Prize owes much to the late Pierre Keller, a visionary artist who sadly died in 2019.
“I like the fluidity of Samuel’s practice; in his work the boundaries between art, architecture, design and urbanism are always fluid. Samuel has many parallel realities. I think this porous quality is also something that we are very interested in and keen to explore at the Serpentine.
“I regularly wear a suit of A-Cold-Wall which is very light and dynamic and flexible.”
Hugh Hayden, Artist
“I am a fan of the brand and it has embraced my own creative practice. Samuel and I met earlier this year before the opening of my show, American Food at Lisson Gallery. He reached out over social media to share his admiration for my work. We subsequently met up at his studio and he outfitted me an amazing A-Cold-Wall ensemble to wear to my opening reception.
“I admire most that Samuel is an amazing talent working across multiple disciplines and excelling, breaking boundaries, and experimenting. But even more importantly his consciousness to support, encourage and bring together and support disparate creatives of colour! You don’t have to be defined by one thing … You can be an architect, artist, chef, fashion designer, and father!
“I love the brand’s ability to create detail-oriented visionary silhouettes that combine notions of historical tailoring with futuristic concepts and materials.
“I should say that I primarily wear brown clothes ... to be sort of nude, or camo. I own a pair of A-Cold-Wall pants that are quilted, a bit like a blanket, which are brown, and I have a pair of the new slip-ons that have this crazy lip on the sole. I want the brown coat that I wore to my opening … It’s not available yet ... That coat makes me feel like [I’m simultaneously in] the 18th and 22nd centuries. I love the texture and form the pants bring to my brown wardrobe.”
Bosse Myhr, Director of Menswear and Womenswear, Selfridges
“The first time I met Samuel was in the Selfridges buying office. We talked about our plans for the first A-Cold-Wall shop fit, which launched in our Designer Street Room in 2017 and has continued to be a favourite with customers. During that first meeting what really struck me about Samuel was how he saw architecture, design, and art as being just as much a part of the A-Cold-Wall universe as fashion is. Ever since I have admired Samuel’s incredible ability to present his vision with such clarity, so much so that in a fairly short space of time he has been able to perfectly define A-Cold-Wall’s identity, and make it instantly recognisable to customers. Personally I look to A-Cold-Wall for the perfect basics from tees and sweats, to caps and jackets. However my first piece was an incredible black lab coat that was covered in splattered white paint – unfortunately these days my girlfriend tends to get to it before I have a chance.”