A-COLD-WALL*: A New Wave of British Design

Presenting "HUMAN. FORM. STRUCTURE." for SS19, ACW* expertly deconstruct classic styles - available now at END.

A curated product of British culture which combines fashion design, installation art and material study, Samuel Ross’ A-COLD-WALL* has quickly secured its status within contemporary menswear since its inception in 2015. Utilising form and function to shed a light on the avant-garde, deconstruction and British working-class heritage, the 27-year-old London-based designer presents a vision of fashion with his own distinctive system of codes and conventions. Applying an outside perspective, Ross challenges the status quo through his combination of esoteric designs, performance art inspired runways and clear-cut social commentary.

Without formal training in fashion design, Ross’ journey towards founding ACW* began with a fateful e-mail to Virgil Abloh. Impressing Abloh with his unique approach, the young creative cut his teeth working alongside the iconic Off-White designer at Kanye West’s DONDA design agency. Propelled closer to realising his ideas, Ross launched ACW* in 2015, and quickly expanded the brand from a small collection to an extensive range of unconventional apparel. Having garnered interest with his first official runway presentations at London Men’s Fashion Week, Ross was nominated as a finalist in the prestigious 2018 edition of the LVMH Prize – ensuring that his name and brand were firmly engrained within the fashion milieu.

Operating with conviction, ACW* offers an evocative impression of the brand's ideology for SS19, “HUMAN. FORM. STRUCTURE.” A visceral collection brimming with power and emotion, Samuel Ross sets a precedent for streetwear that wholeheartedly engages with social issues.

Reminiscent of Brutalist architecture, the collection mimics the council estates and tower blocks of Ross’ childhood in Brixton. Blending angular and asymmetrical elements, the brand’s innovative take on deconstruction alters everyday garments to present an architectural interpretation of sportswear and streetwear staples. Decorated with large pockets, removable patches and unusual panelling, Ross’ uncompromising vision meets military elements:  capitalising on the “war-core” trend without fully adhering to its aesthetic.

Embellished with PVC panels and transparent fabrics, the brand introduces its signature industrial DNA, casting the shadow of British industry across the various garments in the collection. The protective quality of the apparel offers a counterpoint to the avant-garde streetwear sensibility, creating a defensive layer that works as a physical cocoon, replicating the modern-day notion of “safe spaces”.

What makes ACW* feel so substantive, is Ross’ ability to pose important questions concerning the clashing realms separated by architecture, class and environment. Using fashion as a point of delivery, the industrial-tinged label extends an invitation for us to query the modern world, colliding intellectual design with true creative vision. Unapologetically political, the young label delivers a fine balancing act of style and substance, offering the revolutionary take on high-end streetwear the industry has been crying out for.

A-COLD-WALL* SS19 is now available at END.

writerChris Owen