A teenage tearaway who grew up outside the London bubble, Samuel Ross’s transformation into streetwear icon is a story for our generation
As a black, working-class man who grew up in a deprived part of Northamptonshire, the tattoos that layer his skin are a testament to the fact that he’s reached a stage in his career where he’ll never have to “work in a Wilko’s factory”. Moving beyond jobs with restrictive appearance codes, he’s spent the past two years collaborating with the likes of Nike and Barney’s, as well as landing a deal with a major fashion label for his new high street project, POLYTHENE* OPTICS.
Ross says he left behind his years as teen tearaway, during which he ended up in court for GBH and affray, after he realised the stereotype of how a black male should behave was a social construct. Since A-COLD-WALL* first launched in 2015, the Virgil Abloh mentee has been dreaming up subversive, sporty designs that speak to the class divides in society, making his debut at LFWM earlier this year.
Now, he’s coming to understand his role as a businessman for the people. “Why are these kids going to go Zara,” he says frustratedly, “and buy a rip-off design when I can make a product at that price point and those kids understand who I am, what the fuck I’ve been through, and know that I understand them too?”