Authenticity above all else – designer Micheal Sam

“I’m an authentic individual. I have a lot of potential in me. I want to go forward and conquer the world like anybody else who did so… regardless of their situations and circumstances,” said designer Micheal Sam, whose designs have been turning heads.

Sam, who spent just about all of his life in Charity, Essequibo Coast was born in Georgetown and since his return a little over three years ago, his artsy side has exploded.

He displayed his first pieces at the Roraima Wedding Expo in 2014 shortly after his return to the city. He was given the opportunity after persons saw his handiwork the clothing he wore from time to time. “I thought I would have gotten a lot of critiques, but it turned out well actually where designers that I would have admired commended my work saying that they were surprised with how well I did, not having gone through any formal programmes,” he recalled.

To date his close to 70 one-of-a-kind pieces have made their way to fashion shows, pageants and various social events. Apart from clothing, Micheal also designs footwear, jewellery, hats and bags. One of his most prized designs so far this year was a costume he designed for himself when he participated this past May in the Guyana Carnival. The feedback, he noted, was great and overwhelming at the same time.

The designer launched his first clothing line last November at the ‘Unchained Through Fashion’ Show hosted by the African Cultural Development Association. His line, called ‘Ecstasy’, had three segments – Desire, Bliss and Dark Angel. He related that the concept for Dark Angel came through a shirt he had designed. Some years ago, when Traits Model Management held its first Strut the Runway Show Micheal was in attendance and was approached by an older man who enquired about the designer of his shirt. The man was surprised when he told him that he did it himself and he asked Micheal whether he was one of Guyana’s renowned designers. Micheal replied that in fact he was not but was just finding his way as one. The man, he said, was intrigued by the intricate painted pattern of eagle wings he had done on the shirt and asked that he make him one in his size. The very next day he got to working on it. “He was ecstatic and kept saying how amazing my design was. Just the satisfaction of how happy I made him made me tell myself that I was doing this [designing] forever,” he recalled. The man turned out to be the first of many clients to come.

“The fact that I can pour my creativity and myself into a piece and have someone be satisfied and connected is what keeps me going.”

While his early inspiration came from doing Art and Home Economics at his Charity High School, he was first inspired by his brother, Jamal Sam who took up art as a profession. Jamal, he said, was always focused on animation and is now attached with a company doing the same. “He has always encouraged me to embrace myself through art and my passion. So basically, looking at a design of mine is looking at a prized art piece on the wall.”

His other inspirations are local designers Ryan Berkley and Quinton Pearson and in the international industry, the late Gianni Versace. Micheal, a model, also is inspired by model Clinton Duncan. He began modelling at the same time he began designing. He has participated in almost 25 shows including Guyana Fashion Week 2016 and Roraima Wedding Expo.

 But Micheal doesn’t stop at designing and modelling and is one considered a ‘Jack of all trades’. He is an artist also and a spoken word poet. Four of his pieces—two paintings and two drawings—were displayed in the National Art Gallery sometime last year. As a poet he sometimes recites his pieces at the Duke Lodge on the last Wednesday of every month which has been designated ‘Poetry Night’. Then in August of last year he signed up for the Mr Guyana African Roots Pageant where he finished in second place and walked away with the most awards – Best Creative Wear, Best Introduction and Best Talent. This year however, he designed for contestants competing in the same pageant.

“Designing… art has made me quite a humble individual; you have to be humble if you want that respect. Society can be harsh but you can’t let that break you. There are times when I’d get an idea around two o’clock in the morning and I’d get up right away and begin working on it because ideas disappear easily…,” Micheal shared. “Not working on an idea for a design when you have the idea can see you forcing yourself to come up with a design when you no longer have that idea.” Having to come up with an idea can find one creating mediocre designs or copying what is already out there.

It is very important, the young designer further said, to display you and only you in your pieces. Authenticity, he continued, is what people look for when they want to stand out and he tries his best to give just that.

Asked which was his favourite fabric to work with, Micheal said he loves experimenting with all kinds of fabric and whichever he can incorporate into his style, he does not hesitate to do so.

Speaking of fabrics, Micheal shared that having to get materials is probably one of the most challenging things, especially since not all of the materials can be easily found and they can be costly too. He acknowledged his family as his biggest supporters saying that they have always been there for him even when it came to financially assisting him especially at the very beginning. It can be really difficult and emotional for designers, he noted, when they are just getting into designing since most times for them to get started they have to dig into their pockets. In a bid to encourage aspiring designers, models and generally people in the art, Micheal said, “Be your own unique self. We live in a world where people are influenced into being one particular way. The fact that someone can be unique makes you standout. Hold to what you believe in and love and that will lead you to success.”

Micheal hopes that five years’ time his brand can be globally recognized.

The Aquarius born designer enjoys reading (drama, fiction) and hopes to someday write a book on his journey in life, he loves to socialize with family and friends, and go on adventures that flow with the serenity of nature.

Micheal can be contacted on Facebook at Micheal Sam, and on Instagram at theylovemicheal.

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