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Shaun Samson

We speak with the menswear designer about his upcoming MAN show in London, Latino street culture-inspired collection and winning the Trieste-based fashion competition ITS#TEN

Celebrating its tenth year, International Talent Support (ITS) has been a platform for emerging designers from all around the globe. Past finalists have included Mark Fast, Michael Van Der Ham and Peter Pilotto, whilst many others have gone on to work within major fashion houses. This year eleven fashion finalists showcased their work to a panel, which consisted of Viktor & Rolf, Antonio Beradi and Kei Kagami, in the hopes of wining one of the five prizes given away by Maison Martin Margiela, Diesel and ITS.

This year’s stand out was American-born and London-based designer Shaun Samson who graduated from the MA course at Central St. Martins earlier this year. Texture was paramount to this collection, in which Samson fused chunky knitwear, denim and wool (sourced from traditional Italian company Woolrich Mills) using a needle-punch felting technique that left no seams on the garments. Silhouettes were oversized, box-like and cut just above the knee, whilst his colour palette remained muted by focusing on navy, grey, cream and the occasional insert of red. In September 2011 Shaun Samson will showcase his Spring/Summer 12 collection at the MAN show during London Fashion Week. Dazed Digital caught up with the designer in Italy directly after the show to find out more.

Dazed Digital: How does it feel to win the ‘Collection of the Year Award’?
Shaun Samson:
It is still sinking in. I have the award in my hand and people are congratulating me, but it is still weird to realise it. I am very grateful but shocked and surprised at the same time.

DD: The collection you presented was also your MA graduate collection from Central St. Martins. What were references did you look at?
Shaun Samson:
I looked at Latino street culture in California, vintage American work wear and prison uniforms. The technique that I developed for this collection was a needle-punch felting technique. Basically I take different fabrics and use a treatment so that it melts all of the materials together. This way I can go from wool, into denim and then into a knit all in one piece with no seams.

DD: Do you feel as thought your American upbringing influenced your work?
Shaun Samson:
Of course. All of the research that I did was almost first-hand research because I was exposed to it all when I was growing up. I’m from the suburbs in California so the thing to was to be a bad kid even though you came from a normal and secure family home. All of the cool kids were the ones listening to Dr Dree and Snoop Dogg and they were part of this incredible urban scene. I was part of it too, but I was more of an onlooker. In many ways this collection is a manifestation of my childhood.

DD: Can you talk to us about your silhouettes? They were all constructed in an oversized and box-like fashion.
Shaun Samson
: The silhouettes were very minimal and the influence came from prison uniforms. I liked this idea of one-size fits all. I did make it slightly cleaner so that it wasn’t so shapeless.

DD: What is next for you?
Shaun Samson:
I have been invited to do the MAN show in September. This time around it is a very colourful collection and I continued to use my needle-punch felting technique. I have these really bright Mexican blankets that I am using as the focus fabric and them I am using the large t-shirt shapes again but making it more sportswear based.