BFC award winning designer Samuel Ross recently spoke at London’s Central Saint Martens University by invitation with Nike and Dazed Magazine’s Jefferson Hack. Dazed Digital captured the full conversation including Ross discussing his non-traditional entry into fashion, tips on how he started his award winning label A-Cold-Wall*, and what he learned from his mentor Virgil Abloh. The conversation seemed to come full circle when Ross was asked to provide his thoughts about sustainable fashion.
Ross shared that he is currently integrating sustainability into his designs including his collaborations such as his new collection with Nike which features pieces made from an upcycled leather material.
But to Ross’s credit, he iterated sustainable fashion was about more than recycling and he said that designer labels big and small needed to start integrating all types of sustainable materials and practices as soon as possible. But he also stated “there are still some struggles in regards to trying to switch to or source more sustainable fabrics. It’s something everyone needs to work with.”
For his own label, A-Cold-Wall*, Ross confessed the biggest challenge he and his team faced isn’t the materials but being able to integrate the materials into a new sustainable way of working. “It’s not just about recycling anymore but more about how we can reconvene and interact with materials.”
What Ross called out are undoubtedly monetary and aesthetic issues producers and design labels are not ready to address with switching to sustainable design models. Brands like A-Cold-Wall* or Ambush lean on synthetic, high-tech materials like reflective fabrics which are often non-degradable and are chemically treated because of the look, out of convenience, and to increase profit.
His challenge then comes down to discovering and experimenting with new types of sustainable fabrics such as the silk-like Tencel, an environmentally responsible and sustainably sourced natural raw wood material, or Pinatex, a no-waste fruit-based leather. And, finding innovative producers with the ability to experiment with eco-sustainable materials like bamboo which uses natural enzymes to break down the bamboo walls instead of chemicals.
Recognizing this Ross advised students thinking about developing their own label to build relationships with sustainable fabric makers and incorporating sustainable practices as soon as possible. He stated “this way when your brand or label reaches a point where you have retailers and/or you can start putting on shows, you already have a line of communication with the correct producers rather than having to negotiate that part of your design”.
The earlier you start becoming sustainable, the better.
Sam Roth, A-Cold-Wall*
We wholeheartedly agree.