In the run up to our first ever COZY MAG Presents: event, we decided to get a little up close and personal with the amazing brands that are proudly sponsoring the show. Critics Clothing, founded 3 years ago by Samanah Duran was first. We caught up with Samanah last week to talk more about the brand.
COZY MAG: Hey Samanah, thanks for talking with us. Could you start by telling us a bit about your background, and what made you decide to start Critics back in 2012?
Samanah: Hey! thank you so much for having me do this. It really is a pleasure for me. My background was as a model when I was younger, and then as a TV Presenter. Both as we know it, have very short-lived careers with no real sustainability. I wanted to build something, an empire really with longevity. Ive always had a business mind, and that industry was just a platform for me to gain access to where I needed to be. Like paving the way for me. I enjoyed what I did, but I don't like being told what to do, how to look, how to breath.
I started the brand, with my full heart in it because I was determined to make this work. I was about to build something I had, and still have full control of, which is a bit different I feel from the modelling/presenting side.
CM: Have you always known you wanted to work in the fashion industry?
Samanah: I always wanted to have my name on my brand and say “ that came from my vision.” Fashion is just an outlet for my imagination to run wild and express my creativity through design work. The only thing I always knew I wanted to be was a business woman and to build an empire, and hopefully one day give back and help other young entrepreneurs build their empire.
CM: That's definitely inspiring, and something we aspire to do also. So what does Critics mean to you? Where did the concept for the name come from?
Samanah: To me, it means a multitude of things. Its a little pun really. I mean who are the Critics? Who is in charge of your life?
CM: Tell me more about the Mayan aspect and it’s influence on the brand’s aesthetic.
Samanah: I believe that we are living in an era of trendsetters and trend followers, the designs that are incorporated are the Mayan headdress, which symbolize respect and empowerment-this is how is want people to feel when they wear the brand; That we are strong independent people who can make our own choices an do our own thing and be our own person.
CM: You seem like a woman of many talents- we even spotted you modelling the brand in your most recent look book! (And looking fly may we add)- what other creative ventures are you / do you plan on undertaking this year?
Samanah: Haha! Thank you very much! I really enjoyed being part of my collection shoots, however enjoy more being behind the camera directing, making the magic happen and letting the models be the superstars! Its hard to say which additional projects I can 100% commit to in these next couple of months outside of Critics Clothing, as this is so full on.
I would like to go back to presenting maybe in the future sometime but with my own channel. Something along the lines of “Fashion Police” that would be pretty rad.
CM: The streetwear market is heavily saturated, what is it about Critics that you think makes it stand out above the rest?
Samanah: Its true the market is, but then again every brand offers and is passionate about their belief in a completely different way to the next brand. I believe Critics Clothing has the appeal of being a street wear brand that offers chic, timeless classic designs with a luxury lifestyle concept minus the price tag. Today the consumer is searching for a lifestyle to be part of, not just another product to buy.
CM: As a young creative, do you feel it’s important to stay up to date with what others are doing and show support? Do you think everyone is like this?
Samanah: I mean, to be honest, I don't really tend to check up on what other brands are doing to frequently. I might see something on twitter, or in something Im reading and think “oh wow thats nice, I like that” OR possibly I might not like it. But support wise yes, I have to support everyone in this industry, why? because its a damn hard job.There are times where I look at what others have achieved, but you just don't know their journey so its impossible to judge.
Everyone on this earth, has a place and a reason to be here. We all should make things a little easier, by helping one another. In the beginning I got a lot of stick for wanting to do a street wear brand, people didn't really jump out to support, I had a few that really stood by and helped and to this day I still am so appreciative, because it is hard.
Is every one like this you ask? No, unfortunately not. Sometimes you find that the support can come from people you least expect. However its all good in the end, if you just concentrate on your brand, your team and yourself, leave no time for the naysayers. Life is to short to doubt yourself, or what you're doing.
CM: What do you think of the current creative scene in London? Are there any projects or artists that jump out at you right now?
I like London, its where I live and it is fashion capitol in my eyes. The fashion is so diverse here and people really wear what they want to. London is known globally for its diversity and culture. There are so many talented designers, artists and creative people in London. FKA Twigs, I just love her. Whats not to love, she's cool, she's different and she does her own thing.
CM: Do you think being a female in the streetwear industry creates barriers for you? How do you plan on knocking those down if so?
Samanah: It has helped in some way as a female to design street wear, but I don’t like play that card very often as its fair game to everyone. I don't think it has created a barrier as such, although I don't really think its usual for a female to design street wear, or even be hugely enthusiastic of graphic design work, its usually quite masculine. It obviously has been a little tougher creating a culture and vision that people want to be a part of in terms of street wear, as this isn't a lingerie brand or swimwear brand which would probably come a lot easier.
But theres room for everyone in everything, I don't really tend to focus to much on the barriers I may come across, Ill deal with it if and when I have to face them. Being good at what you do should have nothing to do with your gender, it has everything to do with your attitude, and whilst being female, I have no intentions of letting that deter my chances of running a successful street wear brand.
Of course, I am trying to anchor what is still known as a very young brand, but then again one of the advantages being a female is that I am able to walk into potential partnerships, both male and female, and be taken seriously. They genuinely believe there is the potential to create something really sizable, and that for me is the main objective for my brand.
CM: We read that you love to travel- does it influence how you express yourself through the brand?
Samanah: Yeah, I mean I love to travel. I say kind of… Im a homebody actually. I would say that being lucky enough to experience different cultures and explore the diversity of different countries/cities has helped when implementing new design concepts, but its not the core of it. I don't think I ever really have to travel to far from home to get inspiration, although a holiday is nice now and again!
CM: We can’t wait to see your next collection- any hints on what’s next for Critics Clothing?
Samanah: I love the colour black, so the collection will always remain primarily black, although there are some grey pieces added. Theres a few pieces added for the womenswear also. The Collection only ever adds and subtracts.
Shop the collection pictured here by clicking here.
Interview led by Neela. (@foxyneela) Images from Critics' recent look book.