You may not know all of their names, but if you’ve ever as much as glanced at a street style blog, you’ll recognise them. They’re fashion’s very own rat pack and total street style pros. At the heart of this group are Sam Lambert and Shaka Maido, the founders of Art Comes First. Lambert and Maido used their impeccable dress sense to turn it into a clothing label, a lifestyle collective and creative craftmanship family. The ACF duo styled shows and lookbook concepts for Ozwald Boateng (Sam Lambert spent some years under Boatengs Savile Row apprenticeship), they styled an i-D shoot with Hedi Slimane and Lambert works as head of design for London label Spencer Hart. Lambert also sometimes walks the streets of Florence with Kanye, getting all the photographers in a tizzy.
But this time Maidoh and Lambert have collaborated with 5 other friends to create The Coal Project. Standing before the Ivory & Black Gallery in the London burrough of SoHo, the sight of all these immaculately dressed men in a stark white space is just fascinating. As they’re dusting off felt hats and filing leather soles and generally being too debonair to function, I stepped inside in my slightly Starbucks-stained skinny jeans and beanie hat looking twenty shades of casual. I half expected them to lock the door at the sight of me, but I was only met with smiles.
So KNOTORYUS talked to Sam Lambert about the new ACF project, plans of expansion and going into the light.
KNOTORYUS : Hello, Mr Lambert!
Sam Lambert : Hi! We’re glad you stepped inside the gallery!
Shaka Maidoh (laughs): “Yeah, look at everybody outside! They’re all afraid to come in, they’re just standing there."
KNOTORYUS : What can you tell us about this new collaboration?
Sam Lambert : Well, this project is called ‘The Coal’. Just like coal, the theme of our collab is very raw and mineral, with black as the main colour. The idea is to create a suitcase that has all the essentials in there, in case you need to travel. You just pick it up and leave. There are seven people participating, all of them contributing to a separate piece. The bespoke suitcase was designed by T.Michael, he’s from Norway. Shaka and I made the shoes and socks. Matteo Gioli made the felt hats, the eyewear is by Aroun Ducroix of Lotho, the shirt with detachable collar and tie by Sebastian Dollinger from Eton and the scrapbook journal was made by Kalaf Angelo (he points to the dapper guy in the grey suit, busy instagramming the hell out of the gallery). It’s the first time all of us are working together on one project, which is lovely.
KNOTORYUS : How did the production process come along?
Sam Lambert : Well, our main focus was the quality and craftsmanship going into all the individual pieces. So we said from the beginning: only the best fabrics are good enough! The poplin for the shirt was made in England, we only used the finest of felts, the socks are pure silk, the shoes were also made in the U.K. using traditional goodyear construction.”
KNOTORYUS : Where are you selling the Coal suitcases?
KNOTORYUS : What’s new for ACF?
Sam Lambert : We used to design everything in black. Black hats, black blazers, black shoes. All black everything. But we found ourselves wanting to cross over into the light. We started working with shades of tobacco and khakis, which is something we hadn’t done before.
KNOTORYUS : Is there anywhere else you’d like to display your work?
Sam Lambert : Yes! We’d love to be stocked at Dover Street Market and Colette as well, so we’re working on that!
Above image : Shaka Maidoh and Sam Lambert
Above image : Matteo Gioli