After falling in love with his family sewing machine, Samuel Kaiser has become a remarkable fashion designer in spite of facing hardships as a child to many more challenges as an adult.
I got to know of Samuel Kaiser from my amazing friend and great fashion designer Linda Mirembe. She told me of how Samuel’s designs had marveled the audience at the Graduate Fashion Week London, an annual event which features exceptionally talented fashion and design students from over 40 universities in England. (See below for more)
After having a picture of Samuel’s work in my head, I immediately contacted him and started writing this article. Just so you know, Samuel is a very polite and welcoming man. I feel like you should grab a thing or more from his story and never know, you might be elevated to make the next big thing.
Samuel Kaiser currently lives and operates in London where he owns a fashion brand called Gveny London. He was raised in different East African countries including Uganda and Tanzania.
As a child, coming from a poor family diminished the hope of higher education for Samuel because his father couldn’t afford to pay his school fees anymore.
During this time of “make ends meet”, he regularly used the family sewing machine with his mother and in the process the love for becoming a fashion designer was born.
“My mother told me that the sewing machine she used and taught me from, was no ordinary sewing machine, but one with a great history behind it. Honestly speaking, the pride with which my mother spoke about the sewing machine filled me with determination to become a fashion designer in the process making my grandfather proud.” Says Samuel.
As it is said, tough times never last, but tough people do, I surely relate the latter to Samuel because at a time when many people would have given up, he kept moving.
“The story of the sewing machine begins with my grandfather who was the first man to ride a bicycle in his home (Mbale, Western Uganda). Not only was he the first man to cycle in the local town but he was also the first man to use a sewing machine. He bought this sewing machine in 1900 and used it for many years to come. This inspired me a lot to be who I am today,”says Samuel.
Transition – From a bus Driver to Fashion designer
Being a fashion graduate who just completed a BA Honors in Fashion and Design at the University of East London, Samuel has proven to create original, daring, artistic and innovative ready-to-wear designs.
Before he pursued fashion at University, he was a bus driver, employed by the London Duck Tours which is an amphibious sightseeing tour company.
He says that he enjoyed driving buses as it was a good job for it required things he was well versed with i.e. good time keeping and a lot of patience.
“Though everything seemed fine, I felt that my artistic and innovative skills were not being used so I decided to pursue being a fashion designer especially as the embers of my dream were still burning.” He says.
Samuel’s first showcase
Samuel Kaiser’s first showcase was in 2013 at Croydon College foundation studies where he was assigned to close the catwalk show for Croydon University.
Some of the dresses from his foundation were based on the use of nature and sustainable materials. (See below)
Samuel Kaiser’s designs
Samuel’s designs have involved working with a wide range of materials from uncommon fabric, wood to more traditional denim. He is commonly identified by his unusual and clever ideas as well as developing thoughtful ways of solving problems.
His designs are made for a powerful woman. One who is not afraid to be different but also wants to make a bold statement of presence!
“My vision is about waste minimization and prevention of environmental pollution.” Says Samuel.
Graduate Fashion Week London
Below are questions I asked Samuel in regards to Graduate Fashion Week, London.
Q: You were recently part of the Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) in London. Tell us how you became part of it.
Samuel: I was among the sixteen students selected to represent the University of East London. We were assessed with scrutiny at every level due to the mammoth task we were about to undertake. I was extremely honoured to be selected to close the show with my collection inspired by African hairstyles.
Q: What’s the story behind your Styrofoam structural collection that you showcased at the GFW?
Styrofoam was not my initial choice of material, but that’s how my design process works. That project was silhouette based. I tried several different fabrics but they didn’t seem to deliver what I could see in my mind’s eye. A visit to an architectural exhibition then got me thinking. This coupled with the waste material I saw around and gave me a eureka moment. Like they say, “the rest is history!”
Watch Samuel Kaiser’s showcase at the Graduate Fashion Week – 2016 in the video below[huge_it_video_player id=”2″]
I had to implement the concept of strong African hairstyles, dating as far back as in 18th Century. Traditional hairstyles like AMASUNZU from Rwanda influenced my work. The success of this collection was dependent on the cohesion and detail of the whole outfit together.
Q: The silhouettes of your Styrofoam structural collection are to be marveled at. How do you stitch up constructions of such a great challenge?
Thanks for the compliment. I used a combination of architecture and engineering techniques to patiently and meticulously construct these pieces. Some techniques developed from my past experience with African craftsmanship.
To be honest, this was one of the most exciting projects I have had in a long time. It involved historical research, architectural construction and up cycling. Combining these components together including other creative theory and my personal conviction was enough to set the collection apart.
The black hue was dominant in this collection because of the concept Samuelhad undertaken. African hairstyles are normally black.Black is elegant, and it represents strength.
“Black says you don’t mess with me I don’t mess with you,” Yohji Yamamoto.
Apart from Samuel Kaiser’s recent collection (Styrofoam structural collection), he is most proud of his first bespoke wedding gown, which he made in 2014. This was a very important project to him because he was just a first year student at University.
“The whole bespoke process took three months and I was proud that the results were impeccable.” Says Samuel
Samuel says that in the next four years, Gvenylondon will be a well established international brand with global recognition for both avant garde and power representative bespoke designs.
The biggest and most challenging difficulty that Samuel faced was studying while working at the same time.
“Being a mature student with several commitments and having other responsibilities plus priorities at stake was quiet challenging. The younger students did not endure this because they were dependent on their parents.” Comments Samuel.
Samuel advises you to have determination and tenacity to achieve your dream.