A collective, designers, a creative team, travelling tailors or branding experts with the potential to play rock stars in a movie. Whatever you call Shaka Maidoh and Sam Lambert they cannot be boxed as typical designers. Yes they create seasonal collections, they oddly do respect the fashion calendar but they've surely stuck their guns and have put art first. The duo met while working at Ozwald Boatang and quickly decided to join forces and create their eponymous company Art Comes First/ACF.
We sat down with creative director Ouigi Theodore who has spent many hours with the guys to give us some insight and an inside perspective of who the guys are and his views on their visual power.
Let me start by saying that I consider Sam and Shaka my brothers- But then I can travel the globe and find a few more cats who think the same, and also quickly become brothers to me as well. Sam and Shaka have a genuine approach to people that starts with trust first, which is very unique. They are always present in what they do, at least Shaka is. He is the calm to Sam's crashing waves.
I've spent many hours with the two and they are as dedicated to their craft as they are to their image. They are very honest in their approach and when you think about brand building and loyalty it starts with trust and good art should be trusted first. Correct? And that's their winning formula in a nutshell- If Art Comes First and trust leads art, then bingo! There you have it. That's easier said than done, because fashion is very seasonal and temperamental but it's not hard to see the truth, the honesty and hard work in what Art Comes First has built.
How did you meet Sam and Shaka? I was on a trip to Japan that the boys were supposed to be on. Their colleague went instead of them and quickly thought I was friends with them based on my style and energy. I started to research them and wasn’t clear about what they did. They were working with Oswald Boateng at the time. Later on photographer Scott Schuman mentioned that he too thought I was friends with the boys. We quickly realized we needed to connect and met in person the next time they were in NY.
What happened next? Man a lot has happened since we met over 8 years ago. We’ve travelled together from Stockholm to South African to Boston, LA, Vegas and more.
How are they to travel with? Sam and Shaka are a Circus to travel with. It’s non-stop work, creative seasons/socializing and then more work. All of it is fun until you realize you only ate vegan cookies and it’s 2am and they want to connect with one more friend who found out they were in town. That’s a classic day with them in any country I’ve been in with them. Folks come from all creative corners, high level creatives now, to connect with them. “This is our boy Ouigi from The Brooklyn Circus, he’s the mayor of Brooklyn”, that’s normally the introduction.
Ha! Late night vegan cookies. Are they vegan or are you Vegan, which is it? Funny you ask. So yes to them and questionable for me. I used to make fun of Sam and Shaka’s vegan lifestyle. Joking that they didn’t try Haitian goat yet and that’s why they were still vegans. But a few years ago, I decided to pursue a vegan lifestyle, they laughed when they heard that. I’ve always said that I am vegan anywhere in the world except Haiti. I am too culturally connected to the food to give it up. Let’s see how we navigate that when I finally get the boys to come and spend some very much needed time in Haiti.
So what’s next? Continue to work with ACF on different level, collaborate and grow the Global Village one thing at a time. That said, help us in wishing these gents a healthy and happy 10th anniversary. If you are not familiar with their work check out their Instagram, google them and look out for their new website-coming soon. Someone tipped us off to it. IG: @artcomesfirst