The DIY world is growing everyday. Young creatives from all over are learning at an early age how to not only cut & sew, but they’ve learned how to create visions to their fullest at a professional level. They are taking the industry by storm, and creating the next generations signature look one piece at a time. We recently got a chance to get in the head of the young creative Adam Small; getting a closer look at what he’s been working on and a little background on how he became the designer he is today.
Let’s start with a question that may seem simple but can say a lot about a person. Who is Adam Small?
I’m a 19 year old fashion designer/artist from a small city in Canada called Winnipeg. I’ve been creating handmade 1of1 garments for about 3 years now and I’ve been designing clothing for almost 6 years. To over simplify; I’m just a creative kid. I’ve been drawing since before I could walk, and I’ve been making things ever since then. By the time I hit 13, I became obsessed with the world of fashion and streetwear. For me it’s the perfect balance between the visual art I was making as a kid, and something more hands on that can be relevant in people’s everyday lives. Most of my time now is dedicated to my new brand, (Adam Small) so nowadays I just introduce myself as a designer.
Where did you learn to cut and sew? Seeing the talent that you have at this point of your career is crazy.
I started sewing at a super young age. I altered my own clothes on my moms old sewing machine because I couldn’t find the type of clothes that I wanted in my city. I never had any formal training with sewing or fashion design. It’s one of those things that just takes a lot of trial and error plus testing. Looking back on the pieces I was making even just 2 years ago, it’s crazy to see the progression. When I started making my own pieces, it was a struggle to even make a basic hoodie look proper. But with the skills that I’ve learned over time through YouTube and personal research, I feel like I’ve finally reached a place where I have the freedom to create whatever I want. And as an artist, that freedom is so satisfying.
You’ve shown us a preview of some of your newest work. What inspired some of those pieces? The silver jacket is fire.
First off thank you. That piece is one of my favorites. I’ve always found it super difficult to articulate my creative process and inspirations/references. I think part of the reason I’m so drawn to more visual forms of art (fashion, painting, media etc.) is because they don’t require any explanation. You can create a whole story through pictures without saying anything. I try to think about that same idea when creating my work. I like to let the pieces and the visuals speak for themselves, and people can interpret it how they want. For this new collection my references are all super broad. However I do take a lot of inspiration from the places that I’ve been, and the places that I want to travel to in the future. I’m fortunate enough to have been able to travel a lot for my age, so I’ve seen the things that people are wearing all across the world and the things that some people aren’t wearing yet. Since my brand is so new it’s important for me to start creating a consistent narrative/aesthetic, and by keeping my inspirations super open I’m able to experiment and eventually narrow down what I want me brand to represent in the future.
Tell us about some of your early work. What was the first piece you’ve created that sparked interest from a bigger audience.
Well I was introduced to fashion through streetwear, and when I was 14 I started my first brand was called Atomik Studios. The clothes were nothing like the stuff that I design now. I mostly just did the basics of a streetwear startup (super minimal tees, hoodies and caps), but I ended up gaining a pretty decent sized local following from it.
I definitely enjoyed that type of design, but i felt like it had its limits for me and the kind of clothes that I wanted to make didn’t fit the brand or the audience that I had built with Atomik. So I started posting some of my 1/1’s on my personal IG and Twitter just as an experiment, and the more I posted the more people seemed to become interested in what I was doing. There hasn’t really been one single piece that has gone viral or anything. The support that I get now is just the result of me consistently creating and sharing my work.
What are some of your hidden talents?
I don’t really share or post about it a lot but I’m actually a hip hop dancer and choreographer at Muse in Winnipeg. It’s something that I’ve been into since before I even discovered fashion, and even though I’m not necessarily pursuing it as a career it’s still something that I’m super passionate about. For me it’s just another form of expression like fashion and art are for me. It’s pretty insane what you can create with movement; especially when you’re working with large groups of people. I can’t think of any other art forms off the top that have the same level of physicality that dance does. It’s good for my body, but I also feel like it’s good for me creatively too. I get to explore an entirely different form of expression and I can use that understanding of movement and apply it to the garments that I make.
Do you plan on doing any pop ups in the future?
1000%. Eventually I want to setup pop ups and installations on a regular basis in all the major fashion cities. Let’s say by 2022.
Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
I’m inspired by so many people so this one’s hard. I’m a big Alexander McQueen fan, Virgil is a cliche answer but I really fuck with what he’s doing right now, and there’s a new designer (I think out of Chicago) named Maxwell Bresler who is really challenging my idea of what can be done with fashion design. It would be crazy to work with him sometime. To be honest though I’m most inspired by the people around me. Everyone in my circle is trying to elevate or push themselves at whatever they do. Keeping that energy around me is so important. Even just people that I’ve met recently like Sam from Half Evil and Parker from Absent. Following their brands and seeing what they’ve been able to for themselves and the people around them makes me want to push even harder.
Where do you take your brand in 2019?
2019 is the year that I establish Adam Small as a company, not just a brand. I’ve been patient with the process of turning my own name into a long term entity, and it’s important to me that I do it the right way the first time. Creating handmade 1/1 pieces will always be a big part of the brand, but I also want to expand and make certain pieces more accessible to people who follow my work. As of right now I feel like I’ve been getting some attention, but people still don’t know exactly what I do or where they can buy my stuff. This year is the year that I make everything crystal clear for people. 2019 I’m leveling up in every way and that’s the only thing on my mind.
So when it comes to the end of your career what do you want to be remembered for?
Honestly I’m so young that I have no idea what my career even has in store for me. I’ve been doing this for a while and it literally feels like I’m just starting now. I don’t even know what’s gonna happen in 6 months. So trying to think about the end of my (hopefully long) career is super weird.
I’d say that I just want to leave some kind of positive mark on the culture and push the boundaries of the fashion industry. A lot has been done already, but I still feel like I have a unique approach when it comes to my overall brand and how I operate it. I know the I have something special to share and I want people to look back on what I accomplished and feel inspired. It’s crazy that even with the small following that I have I still get messages and comments on the daily from people telling me that I inspire them. That’s a blessing and I don’t take it for granted at all, but I want to share that positive energy with the as many people as I can before I’m gone. Hopefully after I’m gone that legacy is still alive.
So again, in 3 words who is Adam Small?
I’m a creative.