Watch: Exclusive Interview Sam Linder AW'18 Womenswear Collection

New York-based womenswear designer, Sam Linder, weighs in on how to build a brand, facilitating talent and the alchemy of men's versus womenswear

Progressive designers Sam Linder and Kirk Millar are at the forefront of New York's avant garde, carving a unique look with their Linder men's and women's rebellious, non-conformist attitude. Linder's indisputable eye for cuts and fine detail is appreciated by Opening Ceremony, Boon The Shop and Galeries Lafayette. Here within, Kirsten Lock from ORDRE finds out more.

Kirsten Lock: Together you decided to split the collection so that Linder designs for womenswear and Millar men's. How did this arrangement come about?

Sam Linder: Kirk and I developed the brand together, always shooting for, by necessity, an alchemy through the combination of different sensibilities into a single coherent collection. At a certain point it dawned on us, pretty suddenly actually, that neither of us was going as far in his own direction as might be wished. Also Kirk pointed out he really is more interested in designing menswear, which was great because the exact opposite is true for me.

KL: Having split the designing of collections, do you see a large difference in the aesthetic carry-over of Linder Men's versus Women's?

SL: It's more partitioned. The Kirkness of the earlier collections shows up in a more distilled and intense form in the men’s, and the womens is a purified version of my approach. 

KL: Linder’s DNA is heavily embedded in New York culture. What elements of this play a reoccurring role in your design signature?

SL: I’ve lived in New York so long and spent so little time outside the city that I can’t even separate my mentality from this place.  I think it’s like the idea of ‘terroir’, where the wine tastes like the region where the grapes grew. But to be more specific, it’s the grittiness and the use of vernacular in terms of everyday, familiar clothing that people wear on these streets, with modifications.

KL: Your collection has been embraced in Asia. Why do you think this is and who do you envision wearing your pieces?

SL: The Asian market seems more than ready to accept an adventurous design perspective. They don’t take a ‘wait and see’ approach but more ‘that’s interesting, let’s try it’.  The customer values novelty. 

KL: What average wholesale and or retail prices are you hitting?

SL: We have a pretty wide range of prices at which someone can buy into the brand...

KL: You use high quality and experimental laminated wool and fringed leathers in your collection. Where do you source these from?  Is your production all in the USA?  Sustainable?

SL: We source from all over, Italy, Japan, France, Turkey, USA, etc.  We do make an effort to work with mills and tanneries that are trying to modernize in terms of sustainability.  At the moment the vast majority of our styles are sewn in NYC, but we work with Portugal and Italy on select projects.

KL: Your business is still small with many opportunities for growth worldwide. What is your commercial strategy?

SL: We want to maintain our culture of creative independence, but we are seeing more and more interest from an international clientele so we are expanding our retail distribution accordingly. We’re also intend on offering a range of price points as I mentioned before, so that our product is available to customers across the spectrum.

KL: Tell us about the first retailers to embrace you and their constructive advice, if any?

SL: Our experience has been that we are not for everyone but that the retailers who buy in do so based on our specific DNA — they don’t ask us to be ‘more commercial’. What they do want is early and reliable delivery and realistic pricing, and we work hard to stick to that for them.

KL: Do you already see some movement from your customers since you have launched your new website?

SL: Yes, there’s been a lot of enthusiasm especially for the jewelry and bags.

The AW’18 womens collection is currently showing in Paris and online with Please email [email protected] to arrange a wholesale appointment or for inquiries.