15 Minutes with Samuel Parkinson

Photo by @haveyoumetjose
Samuel Parkinson

Day job: Fashion designer
Fashion labels: b:SR; By Samuel Rose; Bespoke by Samuel Rose
Age: 32

When did you first become aware of fashion?

It was probably sixth or seventh grade. I remember some of my friends having really cool shoes and figuring out for the first time that shoes were more than shoes—there was a culture behind them and you could be who you wanted to be through your clothes.

Did you experiment a lot with your attire as a kid?

I went through a lot of different stages: alternative rock, skateboarding, rollerblading, hacky sack. I had longer hair for a time, like grunge style. In seventh grade I got more into hip hop. I used to breakdance. I’ve always kind of had a mix of skater style and b-boy style.

What’s the first piece of clothing you ever made?

The first time I ever put needle and thread to a piece was sophomore year in high school. The culture in my school was that we all traded our clothes. I traded my New York Yankees jersey for a pair of low-top Nike Air Force 1 shoes. They were white with an orange patent-leather Nike check. I ripped the thread off of the check and reversed it to reveal a white suede and sewed it back onto the shoe. Later on in high school, I got into screen printing, which is what really got me into the streetwear industry. I would screen print everything: button-up shirts from thrift stores, bags, jeans. The first shirt I ever sold was a screen-printed design.

Tell me about your formal training in fashion design.

I went to school for fashion design and marketing where I learned everything from pattern drafting to sewing to the ins and outs of retail. I wasn’t a great student in high school, but in college I could sit down and do my work for hours. I used to get kicked out of the school’s sewing lab by security guards almost every night because I was in there just working away.

How would you describe the apparel you design?

What I’m really inspired by is vintage menswear that meets today’s needs. For example, the first collection for my b:SR brand for summer 2018 was called The Tropics League. The inspiration was vintage baseball players, but I pictured these players playing for a tropical island. Think tailored vintage baseball jerseys with tropical prints.

What’s next from here?

I want my brand to grow. I see within the next five years being able to go to any big city in America and see my clothes in one of the higher-end boutiques there. That’s a big goal of mine. I also want to work for other people. I’ve always wanted to be a contract designer, like Jeremy Scott was for Adidas. I want to be on that level. And I want people to know I can take anything and make something from it.