The Sam-and-Shaka Duo Doing Justice to Menswear with ‘Art Comes First’

Sonny and Cher, the most classic duos in music history; Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Hollywood’s most famous twins; Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, the most iconic movie duos; Abbott & Costello, comedic inspirations for aspiring comedians.

The world has seen some power-packed duos throughout history. While these duos have rocked their respective industries in the ‘60s and ‘70s, there is one duo that is making its mark at present. Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh are two names acquiring a prominent identity in the world of men’s fashion. They are the torchbearers of a one-of-a-kind concept in the fashion industry. They launched a clothing brand in 2010 under the name ‘Art Comes First’ that is popularly known as ACF today, which emphasizes their mission to preserve the purity of art in fashion, specifically in the menswear.

Art Comes First is one of those clothing brands contributing to setting new trends in the fashion industry for men. While there are a plethora of clothing and accessory brands for women, the variety and diversity in men’s fashion are comparatively not that impressive. Men out there do not have many options when it comes to adopting a new style and redefining their style statement.

The way a man dresses tells a lot about his personality. It is due to this reason, the world menswear needs to welcome diversity and variety, so that every man has a something to wear that speaks of their taste in fashion and most importantly, their fashion.

The brainchild of the Sam-and-Shaka duo, British Designers, Art Comes First, is an answer to the call for the help of all those men who need to try new looks and wear clothes that reflect who they are. The clothing brand is headquartered in London, specializing in ready-to-wear menswear.

A Unique Approach in Menswear

Art Comes First brings a unique concept and approach in the way men dress up. The clothing brand established a prominent position in the industry through its irrelevant concepts that elevated one’s style statement. The initial collections were all about “extravagant silhouettes, witty use of materials, and irreverent concepts.

A masculine fashion line operating on a mission “Artistic Expression & Cultural Craftsmanship for A Redefined Global Style” is one of the most unique and creative projects in menswear. Starting from 2014’s Essentials and D.A.N.C.E, 2015’s Modern Day Nomad and S.U.I.T. to 2019’s Surf Afrika and Electric Church, and 2020’s El Charro Negro and Reflection of Times, each collection by this brand comes with a powerful backstory. The most recent collection, Reflection of Times, is all about racism and brutality. Similarly, all collections of the past have revolved around a specific theme.

An Amalgamation of Ideas and Concepts

The company has worked on some powerful collaborative projects with some notable entities in the industry. Some of its projects include “Albinism, Albinism,” a collaboration between Art Comes First and Zona Maco. It is a photographic project that captures the true beauty of boys born with albinism. Other projects include Shades of Black; Artists Can’t Fear, NuTone4/2Tone – The Simple alchemy of Dip/Dye, Return of the Rudeboy, The COAL Project.

In addition to a clothing line, this company has nine sub-branches. Avec Ces Freres, a Genderfluid clothing brand, gives a true definition of humans-wear while representing ‘freedom of expression.’ Always Cut First is an enterprise working to introduce the concept of sustainable development for businesses operating in the fashion industry. Another Creative Force brings creative direction in film production; Anti-Capitalist Fashion supports slow fashion that contributes to a reduced carbon footprint.

Africa Coming Forward is a non-profit organization working to “bridge the gap between Africa and its diaspora,” Ancient Culture Footprint is an enterprise paying homage to historical and cultural traditions from around world, inspired styles of past milieu. Other enterprises under Art Comes First include Art Core Foundation, Aperture Camera Flash, and Associate Creative Friends.

The Origin…

Even though Art Comes First came into the picture in 2010, the partnership of the Angola-born Sam Lambert and London-born Shaka Maidoh dates back to the late ‘90s. It was the love for vintage clothing and records the fashion-struck individuals together. They met in West London in 1998 through a mutual friend, and their interests found common ground. Upon meeting, the two connected immediately, and they spent an entire weekend together at Westbourne park digging through piles of clothing and record stacks.

As they both had a knack of fashion and shared a common love for vintage clothing, they started mixing and matching outfits. At the initial phase, they started selling their outfits to friends and family members. After they received appreciation and acknowledgement for their elite fashion sense, they were encouraged to step out and show the world the power they possessed.

They started selling their designs the Saturday market at Portobello Market. Since then, the duo did not let anything else weigh them down, and they began their uphill journey. Showing up at the Portobello Market, led them to an opportunity of working for Ozwald Boateng in Savile Row and at The Kooples. These opportunities served as stepping stones as finally in 2010, Art Comes First was established.

While on one hand, the brand redefines men’s fashion by bringing back the ‘art of craft,’ on the other hand, it works to shed light on societal matters. The brand that according to Sam was initially “just about artsy installation, simple consultancies and collaborations with other brands,” has grown into being a top choice of all men out there who value classy and sophisticated clothing. Working with a network of nine different enterprises, Art Comes First is a fashion brand that is not only doing justice to men’s fashion but is helping preserve the purity of art.