Comme des Garçon, Margiela, Uniqlo, Adidas–how Joey Samson creates a genderless wardrobe
Joey Samson amazed everyone at the Red Charity Gala with his pilgrimage-themed collection. Longtime fans instantly recognized the designer’s androgynous style and tailoring: broad-shouldered jackets and pantsuits on women; lace, ruffles and delicate embellishment on men.
Gender-bending style is nothing new to Samson, who grew up with the cheeky habit of seamlessly subverting gender tropes.
His own wardrobe, consisting of labels like CDG and Dries van Noten, is a collection of seasonless, genderless items. Genuine style—when informed, not by an Instagram feed, but by an actual personality with interests that range across fashion, culture and Catholicism—prove that contemporary, personal aesthetic can exist outside of a social media vacuum.
Your aesthetic as a designer is kind of androgynous. Does the same apply to your personal style?
Yes. I like wearing or putting things together, though most of the time I still stay within certain parameters of what I think fits me or what I can get away with.
What labels are staples in your wardrobe?
Comme des Garçon, Dries Van Noten, Uniqlo, Margiela, Rick Owens, Adidas.
You keep returning to certain labels. What draws you to their aesthetic? Why do you think it works for you?
I buy or am attracted to pieces that appeal to me in terms of color, cut and fabrication regardless of the brand. I guess it’s safe to say that the labels we mentioned always qualify for primary consideration whenever I make a purchase.
There are some women’s pieces that you like to use for yourself. Like an Ines dela Fressange for Uniqlo cashmere sweater we spotted together. Is there a trick to men wearing womenswear so that it works?
Depending on what look one is after, the major trick for me when playing with my wardrobe is to buy genderless items. I always like to mix or put together unexpected pieces—more mannish with a secretary or pussy bow top in cotton with sneakers or trainers. Lately I’ve been wearing a lot of Adidas track bottoms, either big basketball shorts or slim track/joggers with my tuxedo shirts. Or sometimes, basic shirts but in silk, or PJ tops with tux.
The key for me is proportion and balance. It’s important to know what works for one’s body type and personality so it doesn’t come out pilit or contrived.
Is there a local designer you go to when you want something made?
I just ask my tailor to make something for me.
Do you think trends matter—whether it comes to your work or how you shop for yourself?
With work, I have to admit that there are clients who come to me to make for them what’s trendy. For myself, I try not to buy stuff that’s too trendy unless it’s something really special. Or something I know I’m most likely to regret if I will not buy it.
What’s the most tragic trend you see around today?
Copying someone else’s style just because it’s uso, or he or she is a social media star.
What’s a super no-no in fashion?
Copying someone else’s work.
Do you have tricks on updating old pieces in your closet to freshen them up?
Always look at things with a fresh eye or a new lens. Going back to my all-time favorite tuxedo shirt and tux trouser —before, I’d wear tux shirts a lot with jeans, either worn out or cuffed with Converse. I still wear my tux shirt a lot these days, but with a luxe sporty feel: Adidas track joggers plus leather slippers or sneakers.
How would you say your style has evolved?
I would like to think that I am wiser and more responsible and careful now when it comes to making a purchase. I feel it’s more important to build a wardrobe of contemporary, classic and reliable garments rather than clutter my space.
Are there old photos of yourself that make you wince, that make you wish you hadn’t worn something?
Yes, but I think my style when I was younger contributed a lot to how it has evolved or changed.
If you could give your young self some style advice on how to dress, what would it be?
Know what you want. Listen to yourself.
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