Fashion designer Marquin Sampson has recently been selected as one of the top 10 in a continent-wide competition, the African Fashion International Fast Track Programme.
The programme aims to recognise, foster and mentor the best emerging designers, and give them the necessary business support. The competition takes place over a year and culminates in the selection of the Young Designer of the Year competition.
As to how he feels about being voted into the top 10 of a competition, which saw entries streaming in from across the continent, Sampson says: “I feel proud to be among the top 10, because I know a lot of people entered this competition, and what made it harder to get in this year was that it was open to the whole of Africa. When I got the call, I was so excited and happy.”
He concedes, however: “All the media attention and interviews were a a challenge because I am a bit of a shy guy. So doing live interviews for television was a bit a a challenge – but I survived.”
The designer, who has a studio space on Adderley Street, says: “I have always been interested in fashion, but in high school, for some weird reason, I was doing great in all the business and accounting subjects and enjoyed it. So, after I matriculated in 2007 from Rosendal High, I went to study Financial Accounting at Stellenbosch University. I soon came to realise that the finance world was not for me, and in my second year, I decided to drop out, took a gap year to find myself, and started sketching again. It was then that the passion for creating my own designs got sparked.”
Having decided to pursue a career in fashion, he enrolled at the Cape Peninsual University of Technology. “It was not as easy as I thought it would be,” he concedes, adding: “I felt that I did not fit in with all the fashionistas in my class. I was about to drop out again, but then I entered the Live Eco Avante Garde Dress Competition, which I won. That kind of gave me the courage to continue with fashion.”
A year later, the designer was chosen as one of the finalists in the Foschini Fashion Design Awards.
As to the inspiration behind his designs, Sampson says: “My design style is very street and cool with elements of craftsmanship in it just to elevate the garments, just to give it that extra oomph.
“I love to make bold statements with my designs. The man and woman I design for are young and proud of where they come from and are determined to make something out of their lives and won’t let their circumstances hold them back in achieving their hopes and dreams in life. They’re confident and determined to make waves in whichever career path they follow. I suppose my target market is young people who want affordable quality clothing and look cool in whichever street they walk in and also easy-to-wear clothing as they are commuters of public transport and hustling to realise their dreams.”
Mr Sampson adds: “I just want to tell stories with my designs and inspire youth that are from areas like mine to go after their goals and dreams. By wearing my garments, it will hopefully give them hope and that belief in themselves that they can be whatever they want in life – and look cool and fresh at the same time.”