Agi & Sam in Glamcult magazine
Please tell us a little about yourselves and how your designs utilise wool?
With a strong emphasis on entirely bespoke textiles and humour, Agi & Sam believe that fashion should never be taken too seriously, whilst aiming to sit firmly in the middle of brands that fear creating something different, and those which push collections too far.
Agi (Mdumulla) studied Fashion Design at Manchester School of Art while Sam (Cotton) studied Illustration at University of Lincoln. They first met in 2008 whilst interning for Alexander McQueen before going on to work for other brands such as Karl Lagerfeld and J.W. Anderson. In June 2013 Topman launched their first ever full menswear designer collaboration with Agi & Sam, a collection that sold out in a matter of days, and was sold worldwide in countries as far and wide South America and Japan. Shortly after, Agi & Sam were awarded Newgen MEN sponsorship for their first ever standalone catwalk, and showed their collection inspired by bus seats and traveling to a raucous reception.
After being nominated for the second time for a BFA, The end of 2013 saw Agi & Sam take home the emerging menswear award; a completely unexpected, and overwhelming surprise and more recently were awarded Breakthrough Designer of the Year at the GQ Men of the Year Awards. Since the company’s inception, Agi & Sam, have picked up prestigious worldwide stores such as Liberty, Mr Porter, Harvey Nichols, Oki-Ni, Barneys Japan, and IT in Hong Kong, and have gained recurring press and profiles in publications such as GQ, The Guardian, I.D, and the front page of the Telegraph.
After re-structuring the company in the beginning of 2014, re-aligning the brand in a premium contemporary price bracket, Agi & Sam have increased their stockist list in one season from 6 stores to 18. They personally sell the collection in cities such as Paris, New York, London, LA, and Hong Kong and are continuing to build the company from strength to strength.
What is the inspiration that drives Agi & Sam?
SC: “We have always maintained that we want to have fun with fashion. Some people make fashion a matter of life and death and whilst we love what we do, we want to make sure people get a good feeling when they wear our clothes or experience our brand. We are always looking for an interesting way to readdress clothing, whether it is through function, or print, or silhouette, we are trying to make something new and give the consumer an interest in the product.”
AM: “Fashion is moving so quick, these days, that brands are being eaten up and spat out overnight. We don’t want our product to be a flash in the pan, style over substance product, we want it to be always evolving, forever changing and a constant exploration into menswear and fabrication. We want to become a lifestyle, a brand, a personality for our consumer to express their feelings and for our garments to sit in wardrobes through generations.”
What makes you choose wool over other fibres?
SC “I have always been surrounded by wool in so many different facets throughout my life. My father was a farmer, we had a small farm in Worcestershire but mainly he worked as the farmer’s right hand man of a large farm in Astwood Bank. He was responsible for herding, sheep dips, managing the cattle sheds and the egg barns, bailing, you name it, he probably did it. At home we had a similar but small scale experience, we had small herds of sheep, cattle, horses, foul, and also the odd Billie goat from time to time.
But most importantly I grew up in an environment that encouraged self-sufficiency, using natural produce and understanding the well-being of agricultural trade. My father was made honorary life member of the Shropshire sheep society after spending 15 years as treasurer and is still a member of the rare breeders society. This society must be protected and advertised: I know how it was when farmers were being offered less for a bale of wool than the cost of shearing.”
AM “Wool has some incredible properties such as water resistance, softness against skin, strong structural shaping and reshaping, fire retardation, biodegradation. We have always used wool through our collections. Even at the very start when we couldn’t afford to use wool, we were actually printing synthetic to look like wool in a last ditch attempt to achieve it’s aesthetic. This we quickly found was impossible and rapidly started looking for a way to use printed wool for our tailoring. Tailoring especially needs wool to drape, if it doesn’t have wool, it looks and feels terribly awkward. We then started printing wool digitally and through screen on a worsted twill, and the comparison to cotton synthetic was astonishing.”
What demand have you seen from your customers with regards to favouring wool over synthetic fibres?
Customers have always seemed to favour our wool garments to anything synthetic. It has so many premium properties and connotations it’s hard not to understand why. We even tried to emulate wool ourselves by printing wool textures onto synthetic fabrics when we couldn’t afford to use wool.
What is next for Agi & Sam?
SC: “Our main aim for Agi & Sam is to keep growing the brand, season by season, without ultimately rushing and producing poor quality product. The greatest bit of advice we have taken on, from Paul Smith, is to take our time.”