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The suit maketh the men

Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh are redefining modern menswear as Art Comes First. Sam was born in Angola, Shaka in London, and the pair met 16 years ago while riffling through vintage and vinyl stalls in Portobello Market. Drawn to each other through their mutual love of tailoring, they have been creating together ever since. Both cut their sartorial teeth on Savile Row (Ozwald Boateng, Spencer Hart) and are popular figures on international street style blogs. Now they head up Art Comes First, a revolving “collective canopy” of over 10 artists including photographer David Pattinson, model/shoe designer Armado Cabral and Buraka Som System’s Kalaf Angelo. Their mission is to respect and evolve the craftsmanship and heritage that goes into the best dressed men’s wardrobes.

On Art Comes First:
“It was founded in 2008 out of our need to create and be able to inspire others as we have been inspired by craftsmanship's history and a commitment to its future. Art Comes First encompasses different forms of expression and the acronym ACF stands for whatever endeavour is being undertaken. For photography it’s Aperture Camera Flash, for collaborations its Alchemy Creative Family, for design it’s Always Cut First, and so on.”

On ACF’s first venture, The Coal Project:
“Taking a utilitarian approach to design, the collection answered the question: What are the key pieces you need to travel for a short period without packing too little or too much? It included a shirt in black and white with four detachable collars, tie, glasses, hats, shoes, socks and the bag itself plus a book of inspirational pictures, fabrics, quotes and blank pages. The book and bag were made in Portugal, glasses in Japan, hats in Itay, shirts in Sweden and tie and shoes in the UK.”

On ACF’s second venture, The Hard Graft:
“This touring project was taking the DJ technique and applying it to menswear. A DJ digs through crates to discover hidden gems, then cuts up and mixes beats to create new music. Similarly, we traveled the world in search of vintage clothing and then have taken them to the cutting table to create new clothes inspired by record covers of artists we listen to.”

On what drives ACF:
“We are constantly learning as we build the brand as well as from the people we meet and connect with. As we always say, inspire to inspire. Our goal is to create a sub culture that will influence the entire world, just like Mod, Teddy Boy and Rockabilly cultures all have.”

On African fashion:
“People are beginning to realize that Africa is the future. Beyond the use of its textile, the vast mix and different styles from Africa are contributing to and influencing all of fashion now. Africa has a very rich culture and history and is the origin of many key raw materials, which gives us an advantage in creating today.”

Images: courtesy Art Comes First

Words: Helen Jennings


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