This Is Me: Rob Sampson


Rob Sampson; London-based Art Director, future Rock Star and Master of the Shoeniverse. In the first of our This Is Me series, we caught up with the man behind lineageofinfluence to find out exactly what makes him tick…

So, tell me about what you’re wearing…

I have a staple uniform that I’ve had since I was 15 of trainers, T-shirts and jeans although it’s got incrementally more expensive as I’ve got older. Once you start liking nice stuff, it’s like crack, you can’t get off it.

My T-shirt is by Dior and has paneling and back darts. I just like fashion but I like stuff that is good and that fits.

These are my Common Projects.

What are Common Projects?

They’re a little brand from New York, everything’s made in Italy and some things are hand-finished. It was started by Peter Poopat, he used to be the art editor of Visionaire and then he and friend Flavio Girolami went on to design a line of trainers they’d want to wear that were quite high end but also a mix of smart and casual.

I do smart casual, that’s the way I dress. Quite considered but I still don’t want to go away from jeans and trainers as I’ve got a strong footwear fetish that runs through how I style myself. What trainers I’m going to wear is my prime consideration in the morning.

And when did you first start wearing cardigans?

Four or five years ago. I’m from up north where it’s always freezing and therefore necessitates the wear of jumpers. I like good knitwear. You can’t go wrong with a cardigan, they are the most versatile of all knitted garments. They’re awesome. A cardigan’s a gift that just keeps on giving.

What’s the rough cost of your outfit?

Clothes £900, watch £900, it’s a Bell and Ross Quartz and quite cheap for a watch. I bought it about four years ago when they were impossible to find. Jess James in Soho was the only place to buy them and it shut down last year.

Tell me about your jeans.

My jeans are from Albam, a small boutique store in London and haven’t been washed in 13 months. I’m part of a small hardcore group of denim nerds that are all about raw denim. It’s usually spun on a smaller loom, you don’t wash it, and you buy it in its original state. Most regular jeans have been treated or washed and with raw, its charm is that it just wears in a completely natural way. My jeans always wear around the pocket where I keep my wallet. Plus, people wear their jeans in really unique ways so every pair is essentially like someone’s finger-print.

How did you get into raw denim? You seem to know a lot about it.

I got into it through the whole Levi thing, the original 501’s that you buy two inches longer in the leg and the waist and you literally sit in the bath to shrink them. I’ve done that. It works.

I’ve read a lot about denim at Super Future, it’s a forum for fashion nerds that you can look at to learn more about jeans amongst everything else. I love denim as it’s something that’s steeped in tradition. Jeans personify Americana at its finest.

How did you find out about freezing your jeans?

I read it on an internet forum and it really works. I’m not alone in doing it.

Two words; Crooked Tongues.

Aha! The boys, the geeky little bastards. My footwear fetish, well, I’m not sure what came first really, Crooked Tongues or my love of trainers? CT has definitely had a lot to do with my active purchasing of shoes. It’s a website where lots of people love trainers and if you’re a massive shoe-nerd like me, you can get involved in the forum. I’ve been a member for over six years so have known a lot of the guys for a few years and were now mates. We go out and get drunk together and talk about trainers. Sometimes we talk about jeans. Mostly the guys on there are over 30, most have wives and children, some are ex-football casuals, some are youngsters into crazy colour Nikes. A lot of the guys have done the whole going to Europe for shoes.

It’s quite a social thing then?

Definitely. It’s a worldwide thing, CT have done lots of collaborations with Adidas, stuff with Nike and Puma too. Two years ago they did a barbeque in Thailand. It’s a big global online community.

Moving back into fashion, clothes say a lot about a person. Like it or not, it’s a big part of how others see you. What does fashion mean to you?

It doesn’t really mean anything to me.

I’m not about being on trend. I’m aware what’s going on as I’ve been around the fashion industry for as long as I’ve been a designer. I just like looking nice but I like things that are well made, I just like cool shit.

I prefer really beautiful things, which you get in designer fashion and I’m more about buying something that I’ll wear to death than buying a ‘look’.  I’ll probably still be wearing these jeans in five years time. They’ll be knackered but they’ll be beautiful, same thing with the trainers. However, I’m not into labels. I like wearing things that are obscure, that you wouldn’t know unless you were familiar with the signature stitching or something. I guess I’m sort of elitist in a way and don’t want to wear things that everyone else does. People who know the brands will get it. I could go out and buy a £150 T-shirt that says Gucci on the front of it but that would just be stupid.

I’d never say I was fashionable, I have some style and lots of other things fit into that.

When I was younger, I’d just buy stuff that was bright and crazy but as you get older, I think you get more and more somber. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my wardrobe is mainly black, navy blue and grey. There isn’t a lot of colour.

That’s interesting, you being a graphic designer…

I love colour, but I don’t really wear it.

You’ve recently joined the band Small Crew. How’s that going?

Yeah! It’s going really well. That came about from Rich, it’s his band. He knew TJ (my girlfriend) and he was in a band in the 90s called Jack and released three albums. All of my friends were Jack fans, they were quite a well-known Indie band. When they split up, Rich went on to form The Boyfriends and toured with Morrissey. Rich has sort of hoodwinked me into the band on what started as “do you just want to come and have a bit of a practice?” It’s great, I love it.

What would life be like without music?

It just wouldn’t would it? It’d be awful. It’d be miserable.

It’s like that stupid question, would you rather be blind or would you rather be deaf? I’d rather be dead than either of them because I couldn’t do what I love in terms of work and without music, what an absolutely, thoroughly miserable existence. If I couldn’t listen to my guitar when I play it or couldn’t listen to music, it wouldn’t be a particularly happy world. I don’t think I could function. It means so much to me.

When was the last time you bought a guitar?

I haven’t bought one for two years. I’ve got fourteen, six here and I play them every day. Every guitar is in tune. It takes a full Sunday afternoon to make sure they’re all clean and sound perfect. They’re investments, well, even if they weren’t I’d have bought them anyway just for the sheer enjoyment and they’re beautiful, beautiful instruments. It is just really nice to sit and play for hours and hours and hours.

So if you could do anything, that’s what you’d do?

Play guitar. Yeah! It’s just a massive escape. You can sit and play then look at the clock and realise it’s been four or five hours. I get so absorbed into it. It’s my escapism. Thankfully it doesn’t sound like I’ve strangled a cat though…I do like to play it pretty loud.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Black Box Recorder but that’s just because the guy from Black Box came to our gig on Tuesday.

Who are they? I’m thinking ‘right on time’…

They’re an English Indie Rock group that disbanded some time in 2000. John Moore fronted them, he was in The Jesus and Marychain beforehand. Sarah Nixey was also in the crew and Luke Haines who was in The Auters, who I really quite like. I’m also listening to La Roux’s new album. I’ve sort of stayed away from it so far as it’s too popular but it’s fucking ace. The usual random stuff – Metric, Mogwai, Black Keys, The Rolling Stones are all on my stereo too. I go through periods where I consistently listen to The Stones and then don’t for ages.

Have you ever stolen anything?

You can’t put that on the blog!

Ok, have you ever stolen anything else?

No. I once stole a toy car. I was about seven years old and went into the Toymaster in Morcambe at the sea front. A white diecast car in its cardboard packaging. I remember opening it up at home and feeling elated as I’d got it, just because I thought “oh wicked, I’ve got a new toy”. Then I remember feeling mortified that I’d stolen something. I remember looking at it thinking “that’s not mine…I’ve nicked it!”

I’ve never stolen anything since. Now I just thieve hearts…

Nice. So if that doesn’t work out, what’s your plan B in life?

I don’t even have a plan A.

Well without that and as you’re already Master of the Shoenivese, what’s next?

Master of the Shoeniverse? Cool. Well I don’t really have an agenda. I’d like to be really sensible and say director of a design agency in the next ten years, but…

Do you want that?

No, I want to be a rock star don’t I? You know, tour the world and make shit loads of money.

Actually, yeah, that sums it up. I want to find a way of getting paid a good yearly wage whilst doing not a lot.

Isn’t that what you’ve been doing for the last six years?

Yeah. International Man of Mystery would be good though. General playboy or yeah, lets leave it there.

….so we did.

Thanks Rob.