18-year old Eastwood Danso is an unorthodox model, best known as the face of Samuel Ross’ A Cold Wall*. There’s a sober seriousness to Danso’s facial expression, that has become synonymous with the brand. This expression now represents polymath design…where architecture meets fashion, and fashion meets socio-political issues. It’s sort of a “matter-of-fact” look. No more gimmicks or sugar-coating. No bullshitting. Fashion is no longer separated from reality. And the fashion industry is now turning to we the people for inspiration. Danso’s breakthrough is visual, living proof.
I spoke to Eastwood about his journey, his own fashion ventures, difficulties when you don’t fit the description and his relationship with his mentor Samuel Ross. It all started by chance last year for German-born Ghanaian Eastwood, when an opportune Fashion Week casting opened up. “It was kinda weird as I just kinda got dropped into [modelling]… my friend Abital was casting for a brand last year February… I just kinda dropped her an email…not thinking anything of it”.
The rest of his story is testament to the need for persistence, in order to breakthrough past the gatekeepers of industry. “I just started dm’ing random brands and got a reply from some, started doing couple shoots which kinda got my face out there…I guess no agency wanted to sign me though cause I was too short…I’m like 5’11 and not 6′. But I didn’t care that much was focused on other things.” He was at the same time just getting started at sixth form… modelling was and still is only an option for Danso. As it should be.
Taking things into his own hands really did work for him, as Samuel Ross responded and invited him for a test shoot at ACW*. Since then, Samuel Ross has become a mentor to Eastwood Danso and many other young creatives.
Ross has been hailed by the British Fashion Council and LFWM for his ability to address issues of class (white collar/blue collar) and British architecture in his work. He takes edge from “council estate culture” and simplicity from the upper class demeanour. He has also pioneered a movement that takes inspiration from tactile and functional workwear – from ropes to utility belts & water resistant jackets. Rational fashion taken from the day to day scene in London.
Just last week Samuel showcased a new collection at the SS18 London Mens Fashion Week finale. He took us back to school days with a classroom scene, exploring uniformity – when fashion had to be practical before anything else. The days when the JD bag had to fit your Airforces, and the puffer jacket with the Nike gloves had to work – rain or shine. And you bet they all matched the school colours, or else your tutor sent you home. Ross’s show brought together oversized rain jackets, bespoke spraypainted AirForce 1’s, blazers and shirts with asymmetrical silhouettes. Not forgetting the signature summer bucket hat.
And these are all concepts that have brought Eastwood into his own and helped him to flourish in his own right. “My favourite brand I’ve worked with is for sure ACW* …the whole ACW* team just works perfect together in sync no complications. To succeed you need to choose your team carefully. I’ve been inspired and have learned a lot from Samuel Ross. Will forever be thankful for that, more thankful than I could possibly show”.
Even with limited free time, Danso continues to exceed limitations, branching out in all angles of creativity. His own clothing line under his name, was curated whilst he was still studying for A-Levels. He tells me as a child he grew up playing every instrument offered at his private school, so he has become accustomed to the polymath lifestyle. The current 18 piece installation “Being and Time” features relaxed fit jogging bottoms with a clean suede tuxedo stripe on each side. He uses a mix of skin tone and pastel colours. Also, a brown wax leather jacket with accentuated buckles and straps, and a utility pouch to match. “I tried to bring new silhouettes and some more familiar ones to the table and it was a risk…I was kinda nervous about how people would react.
My debut collection is experimental. I like to say it was the calm before the storm…It got some good feedback and some negative which helped me develop the next collection. The collection was aimed at everyone and people that kinda wanted to try something new.
The hardest material I sourced was the Japanese waxed cotton for the signature jacket. I would have gone further with materials on some of the other pieces such as the parka if it wasn’t for school.” Danso’s knowledge of design is seasoned and diverse. He takes inspiration from fellow Ghanaians – architect David Adjaye OBE, and designer’s like Oswald Boateng.
And he has a clear vision for his brand: “First of all, I can’t imagine dying nameless. So that’s why I will be putting in the work that is really needed for people to recognise my work in whatever subject I don’t really care if they don’t recognise me … I want my work to speak for itself”.
Danso and creatives like him are showing that fashion design now has blurred lines and open borders. It is no longer uncommon for a designer to dabble into modelling and vice versa. Even better, the doors that were once shut off to outsiders like Danso have now been cast down. Streetwear is now being respected in the same way luxury fashion is. Hood famous creatives are now being invited to sit front row at shows. Fashion Week is now recognising our side of London town. Thankfully, fashion is now actually representing effort and potential. “I feel like if you are determined and know what direction you want to go in, nothing can stop you from accomplishment”.