Men who are fed up with the stiflingly boring choice of bland polo shirts, ubiquitous muted shades of chinos, and drab shirts this season, are about to get a flash of inspiration, as the toast of London Fashion week, Agi Mdumulla and Sam Cotton, are set to launch their first collection at Topman.
Agi and Sam literally stole the catwalk earlier this year, when their models of varying ages, ethnicity and looks strutted purposefully, wearing men skirts, suits decorated with mallards and cockerels, flower power print shorts and tops and gillets with a difference.
And it wasn’t just the clothes that set these two new designers apart from the rest at London Fashion Week; we loved the fact that they weren’t afraid to step outside the industry standard and used models that looked as if they had just flown in from the borders at Mexico, an older pair of gentlemen who could have worked the estates for Prince Charles, and guys that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Costa del Brava.
The pair have had an illustrious past, and met whilst they both worked at Alexander McQueen back in 2008. Agi was working within the men’s design team whilst Sam was producing prints. Before that, Sam went to the University of Lincoln where he studied illustration, and Agi went to the Manchester School of Art and worked towards a fashion design.
The duo started their own company in August 2010 and only two years after forming their own brand, were nominated for a British Fashion Award for the Emerging Talent menswear prize.
The collaboration with Topman is their first foray into the High Street and mainstream design, but if anyone can brighten up the dreary old school tat that men have to wear these days then this duo can.
The collection will feature 20 pieces to start with, and will include the pairs signature design look of smart tailoring with a twist of digital prints. Famed for mixing up traditional styles with a quirky touch, the collection has been dubbed “The Owls” (which is a very a familiar Agi & Sam motif).
Agi says: “I’ve always liked owls. They’re underrated animals,” and indeed, if you look at the Agi & Sam logo, it does actually look a little bit like an owl’s face. Sam has since developed this into a football badge for the Topman kits, but he has had little success in trying to get Agi interested in the national game.
He says: “I’ve tried, with all my heart for the past five years, to make Agi like football, so we can play football, talk about football, but Agi prefers to talk about Made in Chelsea and Radio 4.”
Apparently Sam has always wanted to design his very own football kit, since he was a young boy, so this is a dream come true for the talented designer.
There are some suggestions that the pair are a bit too quirky and their designs are far too outrageous for the UK market, however, if their own T-shirt range for Liberty is anything to measure their success by, it has already sold out.
As Stephen Ayres, who is the head of fashion at the department store, comments on the pairs ability to manage the tricky print- on-print look: “Many young menswear designers have experimented with this trend but Agi & Sam have been successful in translating it into the men’s arena,” he says.
And Tim Sturmheit, a buyer at oki-ni.com, who is also stocking their label next season, is a huge fan of the pair: “They have so many great ideas – almost too many – but this autumn they’ve picked the best ones and made a really coherent collection.”
As is Robert Johnston, the associate editor at GQ: “I’m not a young kid but I’d buy their clothes. I think the mixed casting has helped a great deal. They’re good at making clothes that people want to wear, as well as knowing what makes a good picture, which is the ultimate catwalk success.”
So has their new found fame changed the boys in any way? Agi answers: “We’re not sitting around Googling ourselves,” although Sam adds: “My mum does though. My mum has had a Google alert set up.”
The Agi & Sam collection for Topman will launch later this month. For more information on the Agi & Sam brand, visit their website.
All pictures courtesy Agi & Sam