The king of minimalist hybrid hi-tech clothing, Virgil Abloh’s former right hand man and lover of design in all its forms is reviving his iconic A Cold Wall* brand. Let’s find out more about the highly-respected designer’s career path.
Sam Ross launched A Cold Wall* in 2015 fuelled by a deep desire to represent Britain’s street culture and working class. The brand was already worth over 12 million when he was just 29. The brilliant designer who grew up in a poor and segregated part of Northamptonshire succeeded in building a fashion empire in a matter of years. His parts are creative and intellectual. His father specialises in stained glass and studied fine art at Central Saint Martins. His mother paints and teaches psychology. He credits his parents for having “sculpted” him into being highly sensitive to art and design. He sold his first painting to a friend when he was 7. He sold fake Nike and adidas shoes to his friends and family when he was 15.
His first loves? Illustration and graphic design which he graduated in at Montfort University. In 2011 he launched his first streetwear brand 2wnt4 whilst working as a designer for Imperial GB. He met Virgil Abloh and Kanye West two years later to work on the Kanye x APC collection. Virgil then made him Off-White’s creative assistant so he was involved in the artistic design of installations, pop-ups and events of all kinds. He also contributed and provided his fresh vision to brands like Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God and Shayne Oliver’s Hood by Air in 2014.
The word that is often used to describe Samuel Ross is “cerebral”. And it’s certainly his highly intellectual take on menswear that saw him shortlisted for the prestigious LVMH and ANDAM prizes in 2018 and win a British Fashion Award. You couldn’t reduce the ACW* brand’s work to simple streetwear as its expression is so complex: from shows and shapes to fabrics, functions and storytelling, nothing is left to chance.
Each of his designs is a structural experiment. Samuel Ross draws inspiration from architects such as James Turrell, Massimo Vignelli, Shusaku Arakawa, Francis Kéré and Christo to explore the perception of space, colour, form and design.
He uses industrial material such as PVC, plastic and rubber nylon in almost couture pieces that see Sam Ross create an inclusive and modern introduction to spark an honest conversation with the new generation. The new generation has certainly been won over and applauds his work just like it applauds (and demands) the work of Heron Preston. His collaborations with Nike (from Air Force 1 to Vomero 5) and Oakley were bound to succeed.
The designer recently decided to begin a new era of his brand which he unveiled at the first AW20 show at Milan Fashion Week. “This collection represents boyhood to manhood; it’s almost a story of one’s self. “I was 23 when I started A-COLD-WALL*, and it was streetwear through and through. Now, at 28, with a fiancé and a two-year-old child and a business, my perspective on life has heavily shifted.” The more mature collection obviously featured outdoor pieces with drawstrings and workwear trousers alongside sharp tailoring and a seriously stylish overcoat. Fans of straps, multiple pockets and PVC may be thrown off by the new direction but you can bet that Samuel Ross will keep looking after those who have stuck with him and will reach an even wider audience.