Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Sam MC London takes to the stage

We love mixing it up here at Style Salvage. From discussing the evolution of the legend that is Joe Casely-Hayford in yesterday's post, we now turn our attention to the emerging talent of SAM MC LONDON. The unveiling of his debut six piece capsule collection marks the beginning of Samuel McWilliams' goal of crafting a decidedly British street wear label.

It is quite literally the brother label of Courtney Mc London, which was created by RCA-graduate Courtney McWilliams in 2010 and, since her move to Paris to work under Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, her brother has now taken up the creative reigns. SAM MC LONDON is a family label. Building on the creative foundation laid by his sister, Samuel McWilliams focuses on their shared love of fairy tales in an Anglo-Asian-inspired, print-infused street-wear collection that has the same dark, romantic narrative that is the signature of The Brothers Grimm collection. Ultimately, the McWilliams clan have always revelled in being out of the ordinary, flaunted their sense of humour and have been described as international yet still very British, and Brother of a Brunette Rough-Neck (a stella MC) demonstrates all of these family traits and more. Following its launch at Trickle in Newcastle in May, the debut collection has unsurprisingly for us, already attracted the interest of international buyers. Here we talk to the design talent about the emergence of the label and take a close look at the debut collection.


SS: Your path in to fashion design is a slightly unusual one given your background in graphic design and the forming of the label itself. Could you talk us through your education, experiences in the industry thus far and the catalyst for you taking over the design reigns from your sister to launch SAM MC London?
Samuel McWilliams: Growing up in Asia I was really affected by the culture and colours, so I have never wanted to sit inside four grey walls. I wanted a stimulating and creative career, which led me to graphic design. I have been able to watch my sister and her partnerʼs careers grow and learn from them along the way. Courtney hired me to assist on the prints at Givenchy for a short time and I also travelled in London and Paris to assist Kanye on his first show (while I was still studying) and we literally worked non-stop churning out work. It was then that I got to see the dedication needed to bring your craft to life and was inspired to do my own thing. Courtney offered me the opportunity to design a capsule collection under her name, which I created as part of my graduate show. Now I am out in the world I want to do it under my name. So the brand is what I am focusing on at the moment, along with pursuing a career in commercial graphic design.

SS: What does SAM MC LONDON mean to you?
Samuel McWilliams: It means building a brand for our family. I had a vision of crafting a street-wear label, because it is the way I dress, and the lifestyle I live. Creating a product around that is really exciting. I want SAM MC to be like a British BAPE or SUPREME, which are big boots to fill but thatʼs the ultimate goal.


SS: Brother of a Brunette Rough-Neck (a stella MC) takes us on a journey through dark, romantic fairytales and in particular The Brother's Grimm's Snow White and Rose Red. What was the starting point point and how did the fairytale influence the collection?
Samuel McWilliams: Snow White and Rose Red is one of those amazing Grimm fairytales that got destroyed by Disney. I love that strange, dark but fun visuals that the Grimm tales evoke, similar to a Tim Burton illustration or an anime film, and the symbol of the rose is iconically British, so this particular story really spoke to me. The starting point was the crazy dog print and the visual just grew from there; with the girls dressed in jeans printed with red and white roses, and the boys dressed like urban huntsmen in variations of graffiti, rose and crazy dog print.


SS: What was your mood board like for this season?
Samuel McWilliams: My sister introduced me to Prada womenswear, and I was inspired by their beautifully witty collections... so I referenced a lot of Prada, and mixed that with the iconic visuals of really boyish labels like Fila and Henri Lloyd. The mood board started off quite elegant, and I pushed to twist it into something very street and relatable to your average boy. With all the visual inspiration it would have been very easy to go over the top with embellishment and styling, but I know to always bring it back down to my level and keep it real.


SS: Given your background in graphic design, it should come as little surprise that prints feature throughout this six piece capsule collection. Could you talk us through your approach to designing this collection, from the creation of prints for this season and the processes you use on the printed denim jacket, printed jean and graphic t-shirt?

Samuel McWilliams: I started with the digital prints and with the twisted fairytale already written, they easily fell into place. The crazy dog was that dark-yet-witty, Japanese-esque design that is a key aspect of the MC identity, and the large graphic roses literally tell the story on the clothes. The red and white of the roses were also a great way to reinforce the MC colour palate of red, white and black. The Staffie print on the t-shirt was a dedication to my sister and I even borrowed her hand-writing for the graffiti print jacket. To counter-balance the very dominant print I decided on the classic James Dean jeans, jacket and tee combo for both the girls and the guys. The jackets have a really cool M-cut in the back which I am going to keep as the brandʼs signature. The digitally-printed fabric was all bonded with a contrast red or black interior and everything down to the buttons was branded with the MC logo. For the t-shirts and sweatshirts, I just wanted to create something visually iconic, timelessly cool, and very British-street. Taking these prints into skateboards just took them to the next level.


SS: I'm particularly intrigued by the label's exploration of British-ness, from it's humour to appropriation of visual symbols including three lions and your family crest. How does British-ness influence your design? So much of street culture and fashion originates from the US or Japan, are you keen on reclaiming the streets for Britain?
Samuel McWilliams: I spent the majority of my childhood in Asia but have always been very patriotic to England. The British are very sentimental about their heritage, hence why I included the McWilliams family crest into the print. Itʼs also why I am keen to be known as a British brand. However twenty first century England is all about embracing cultural diversity and my family feels a real responsibility towards representing a more global outlook. I donʼt want to reclaim the streets for the Brits, I just want to us to have a continual presence, and for SAM MC to share a curb with the US and Japan would be an honour.


SS: Following its launch at at Trickle store in Newcastle in May, the debut collection has already attracted the interest of international buyers. How has the reaction been?
Samuel McWilliams: I have had a good response so far, even though the outreach has been small. As a recent graduate it is really tough to get publicity. But after approaching Beams International Gallery, Japan, I have realised that there is definitely a market out there for the brand. I think the greatest response has been to the t-shirts and skateboards, which is very typical of our target customer, and will be something I continue to push.

SS: Finally, how would you like to see SAM MC LONDON grow over the next couple of seasons and beyond?
Samuel McWilliams: The focus really, is on building an established label and killing it with amazing printed clothes and accessories every season. So I would love to see the brand and the business really take off and to maybe do a collaboration with a major accessories or sportswear label. But I am planning a slow and steady invasion... I refuse to be a one-hit-wonder young designer.

A selection of behind the scenes studio shots

A considered yet exciting capsule collection, Brother of a Brunette Rough-Neck (a stella MC) is ultimately a tribute to what his sister started whilst marking a new beginning for British street-wear. As mentioned above, the inspiration behind the collection is the story of The Brother's Grimm's Snow White and Rose Red, using the contrast of the red and the white for the colour palate, the bold graphic of the roses and exploring the dark twisted elements of the story for the print, remixed with the MC’s obsession with Power Ranger-esque robot/heroes for the visuals of the campaign. The campaign was shot in Oxshott Woods and embraces all the elements; earth, wind, fire, and water, and was shot by designer and photographer Alex Milsom. Now that we've acquainted ourselves with this design talent, it is time that we fully immersed ourselves in his graphic world...

Lookbook for Brother of a Brunette Rough-Neck (a stella MC) as shot by Alex Milsom


LYNN and HORST said...


Unknown said...

you have outstanding bog dear Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

great design ..

vall3n said...

very nice design make the wearer look cool..

Anonymous said...

Lynn & Horst, did you not read the article? It says the designer and his sister both worked for Givenchy and designed their graphics so quite rightly, the label bears similarities to what they did at the house...

Anonymous said...

thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

correction...sister still works for Givenchy, he designed the graphics for Givenchy now doing his own thing.


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