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Photography by Jonnie Craig

Studio Visit: Shaun Samson

The Californian designer talks uniform codes and underage drinking at the beach

Shaun Samson’s studio feels very grown up, especially for a designer whose work explores teenage rebellion and at times, adolescent extremes. However, once you take a closer look around, you begin to find the objects that pay homage to his teenage years - the branded skateboards that he sent down the runway and the boy-ish oversized garments he has hanging on his rails. Ahead of his SS14 show next week, we spoke to the Californian designer about his vision for the ultimate summer party. 

Dazed Digital: What were some of your early references this season?

Shaun Samson: I don’t know why this came up. I think I just miss California so much, but I was looking at the ultimate summer party and trying to re-create that feeling this season. You know, it’s summer time, everyone is graduating from school, they feel accomplished and they want to go out. So you know, what would you want to wear to hang out with your friends? You don’t necessarily wear a suit so you wear your favourite t-shirt or whatever. You go out and feel good. You know there is underage drinking at the beach… so it’s just that feeling that I want to explore with this collection.

DD: So this season it’s more about a feeling…

Shaun Samson: I think all my collections are about feelings. I’m a very emotional person.

DD: What music have you been listening to whilst designing the collection?

Shaun Samson: Music plays a big part in me coming up with the feeling for the collection. I was looking at the ultimate summer party and tracks that reminded me of being young. You know, songs you only hear in the summer time at the beach. Ones that bring you to a point in your life where everything was just fun and free.

DD: And I want to talk a bit about ASAP Rocky because he has been a big supporter of your work…

Shaun Samson: ASAP is the ideal person to wear my stuff because he has really good style on his own and doesn’t look like he feels uncomfortable in what he’s wearing. So even if he puts on a long tunic he just makes it look really cool, I think. I feel he always surprises me with what he wears. He always does it in a good, natural way and he’s a good looking guy. He’s the right height, so proportionally he fits the collection.

Yeah, then there’s the other spectrum where a lot of my stockists and people who buy the collection are Asian, and they wear it in a completely different way. However, I can’t really think about the end consumer. I can only think about me and what I feel like is right for the label. Thankfully I work with a really good team. Matthew [Josephs] helps to take all these different reference points that I’m looking at and directs them into the collection.

DD: Let’s talk about the casting and the other elements you bring into the show. In previous seasons you’ve printed your name on skateboards and shaved it into the back of models hair. Each of these elements create a narrative. Have you worked in the same way this season?

Shaun Samson: Well, we haven’t come up with the hair and make-up yet, so I don’t know. I feel like we did that because they fit with the collection. I feel like those types of elements – the street culture, the tattoos and shaving the heads – is not in the current collection literally. That feeling will still be there, that very personal dude feeling, just presented in a different way – whether he is sagging his pants or just the way that he walks or his general attitude.

DD: Let’s talk about the idea of creating uniform codes, as it is something often associated with your work.

Shaun Samson: I think that one of things, when we all start to learn about clothes and what clothing mean to us, when we’re eight of nine, is that if you dress a certain way, you kind of belong to a certain crew of people. I think that’s the kind of uniform I was trying to describe, not like an army or boy scouts uniform, but more like if you were a skater you kind of dress a certain way and there are some things that you wouldn’t wear because a skater would never wear that. That’s the kind of uniformity of the way you look, rather than a uniform.