Art Comes First is a dynamic fashion collective founded by self-taught designers Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh. Having already garnered the support of sartorial superstars such as Ghanaian menswear designer Ozwald Boateng, the duo’s unfaltering art first approach to fashion is steadily gaining the respect of fashion luminaries around the world. Their is a natural chemistry between Lambert and Maidoh; the two innately complement one and others aesthetic, and that of their collaborators. This, coupled with the “revolving”, synergetic philosophy of the collective is most clearly translated in ACF’s mission statement. Put simply, and in Lambert and Maidoh’s own words; the duo is seeking the ”circulation of sartorial nourishment and the oxygenation of time-based projects through dynamic collaborations with different creatives in their network.”
The staunch emphasis on the creative capabilities and dynamism of a group, and a dedication to creating simply for the sake of expressing creative energy is the crux of ACF’s work, and a huge portion of what makes the collectives body of work so impressive and fresh. Their most recent projects have been shown at Pitti Uomo, The Copenhagen International Fashion Fair and The Liberty Tradeshow in Las Vegas. One such project dubbed”The Hard Graft: The DJ Technique Applied to Menswear” is a nostalgic ode to a bygone era, and a simultaneous demonstration of the versatility of repurposed vintage threads. Every garment presented was bought from vintage and thrift stores before being deconstructed and re-imagined under the careful eye of a team comprised of Lambert, Maidoh, Matteo Gioli of Superduper hats, and Liam Maher who is head designer for Denham Jeans. As a longtime collaborator with ACF, Maher in particular has exerted much influence over past projects, and worked very closely with Lambert and Maidoh–who describe him as a mentor–in designing the clothes found in The Hard Graft presentation. Maher’s wife Jennifer also became part of the team, helping with logistics, providing creative direction, photography and anything in between.
It comes as no surprise vintage garments often take front and center with Art Comes First as both Lambert and Maidoh have a penchant for 60′s dandy style. In fact, Lambert’s background in fashion blossomed from his love of vintage clothes, which he would buy and self-tailor. He eventually even purchased a pattern cutting book to teach himself the basic principles of design. While some of ACF’s more eclectic offerings can take on an almost costume-esque edge, they still maintain an inherent vintage charm and a thoughtful, present aesthetic. Artfully deconstructed garments meld modern preferences with the best of classic American workwear, Savile Row quality tailoring and gentleman-dandy style. With a full site set to launch this September, a freshly unveiled collection available to the public, and countless other projects in the works, Art Comes Firsts inspired approach to menswear is certainly something to watch.