The World Wide Web introduced me to Art Comes First lifestyle. From what I could gather this was a design duo living in Europe with immaculate personal style. When I met them last summer at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy we automatically clicked because they seemed like humble down-to-earth creatives. Out of curiosity, I dig deeper to learn more about the gents behind the brand. So when Sam and Shaka was in New York for the Liberty trade show, I took the opportunity to document and interview them while they showed their latest collection.
Tell Us About Yourself
Sam Lambert: I was born in Angola and grow up between Spain and UK. Father was a bespoke tailor and mother was a trader who traveled everywhere.
Shaka Maidoh: My father's a Sartor from West African and mother's a retired nurse from the West Indies. I was born and bred in West London and have lived in various places in between.
How did you guys become a design team and why a focus on menswear?
Sam: I became a designer after my photograph studies. It was more out of necessity to dress myself with the right garment which fitted right and had right fabrication. I used to be around vintage market a lot when I moved to London so i end up customising everything I would buy, just by remembering what my dad used to do with thread,needle and scissors. The focus on menswear was really more like a self test almost like a mad scientist trying medicine on himself first.
Shaka: The team dynamics sparked off from common interests in vintage, traditions, cultures, hobbies and really a need to create. Creation became a necessity where the end product translated to piece of clothing, art pieces, personal wardrobe and what have you and hence menswear as it was initially and mainly personal.
Where are some of the places you pull inspiration from and how does that define the DNA of the brand?
Sam: Well we have a saying we say here at ACF HQ inspire to be inspired. We pull inspiration from everywhere really but mostly from the cultures of places I've been. Music and craft always been one of those things helped to connect the red thread. That's why one of the definition of ACF its Ancient Culture Footstep.
Shaka: Inspired by the art of life. I am a night owl, I find I hardly have to change anything I get up to in the middle of the night.
Between photography, styling, designing and creative direction, do you have a preferred medium? If so, why?
Sam: To tell you the truth they all relate to each other, for my design I get massive inspiration from vintage pictures I collect, I wouldn't be able to style if I didn't know cloth and proportion, I wouldn't be able to art direct if I was never behind the camera.
Shaka: No. Art Comes First sees itself as a styling agency, as we have have a stylistic approach to designing, photography, and pretty much everything we do.
Outside of work, do you have guys have an hobbies?
Sam: I'm trying to be rock star I been trying to learn how to play guitar for ages now but its not working :( that's how far my hobbies go. Oh and I still carry harmonica with me everywhere I go so I can at least learn that.
Shaka: I would have said traveling but that is also part of work these days.
What music are you listening to?
Sam: To tell the truth i was on Valerie June, The bullits and Gary Clark jr but my photographer friend Kris Moolman introduce me to David Lynch stuff i have to say its pretty addictive.
Shaka: Changed with time and place. Right now I am back on ska, constant spin of selections from Trojan records on YouTube gets me by at night.
What projects or collaborations are you currently working on?
Sam: Right now we are working on our main line called Avec Ces Freres (traveling tailoring by traveling tailoring) and our denim Apron project with DENHAM for United Arrows and of course PONY sneakers by ACF.
Shaka: All mentioned above by Sam to include photography and book project with Kristinlee Moolman, and a pop up school in Africa.
How would you define the Art Comes First man? Where does he travel? What does he live?
Sam: Its a man who drinks tea, wears tie and appreciate art. He travels in concrete jungles and sometimes in snow clouds. He lives everywhere and nowhere its a true Gypsy.
Shaka: Also a constant mind traveler.