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Shaun Samson is an archetypically easygoing California kid, but lately he’s been acclimating to the international bustle in London, where he’s shown his menswear collection for the past four seasons. “L.A.,” he says, “is very L.A.-centric. It’s hard to find someone in L.A. who isn’t from America, whereas in London every other person that I know is from somewhere else.”
And yet, since he graduated from Central Saint Martins and won the International Talent Support Competition in 2011, it’s been Samson’s L.A.-centric aesthetic that’s won him so much praise. Replete with board shorts, parkas, oversized tees, and poncho-proportioned tops, Samson’s offering has delivered much-needed nonchalance to London’s busy and brightly-colored stages. With his Fall 2014 collection showing in the city next week, we got on the phone with the designer to unpack more of his West Coast character.
DESIGNER: Shaun Samson
BASED IN: Los Angeles
SHOWING IN: London
SIGNATURES: Definitely laid-back. Laid-back, California easy. It’s where I’m from, it’s what I know. I think even if I were to design something more formal or for a different occasion, it would still have that California laid-back attitude. I think that’s just my natural style. Each season I do something different—I come up with a different story and a different guy that I’m designing for—but I think that’s the common thread through all of my collections. It’s never something that I’m aware of or an aesthetic that I’m trying to maintain, but I think it’s automatic.
ORIGIN STORY: I think I was always just a creative person. I remember when I was younger, instead of going out with other kids or even playing video games, I would stay home and watch interior design shows. I was a very peculiar child. [laughs] I’d prefer to look at design magazines instead of comic books or even cartoons. So even from the get-go, when I was a really, really young, I was very visual. I remember one of my earliest arguments with my mother was when she bought me some shoes that I didn’t like and I was fighting with her because of it. [laughs] I think I was seven.
COLLECTOR’S ITEM: I remember being in sixth grade and there was this hip-hop dance competition that I’d heard about. Something came up where there was the possibility of making your own outfit or costume for it. I never actually joined it, but the whole idea of making my own costume was more interesting to me than really joining the competition. So I remember making my own costume for this hip-hop competition that I never even joined. [laughs] It was at the time when TLC was first coming out and all that really bright, bright denim was out, so I remember designing a denim jacket with denim jeans that was made from, like, 20 different denim colors. That’s the earliest thing I can remember designing.
WINTER IS COMING: Outerwear collections are always more interesting for me to design, because being from Southern California, the coldest weather that we ever get is, like, rain. [laughs] So we don’t ever really own heavy coats or rain boots or anything. I think what I’m trying to do in my winter collections is more about fantasy for me. Whereas with summer, I’m thinking about what California is like. With the winter, I’m allowed to be a little bit more fantastical.
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