The radical evolution, then, comes in the form of the business decisions which Ross has been working to implement over the past year, like the formal division of his brand into A-C-W and A-Cold-Wall. The former reflects “British youth culture: the kids in Manchester who are wearing Nike jersey tracksuits, made at a price point that reflects that.” The latter? A more mature customer, seeking a high-spec yet understated runway offering: “Take our bucket hat: its point of asymmetry is so subtle that it allows someone to wear something slightly abstract in their day-to-day,” Ross explains. Basically it’s the distillation of the designer’s personal dress codes—those which defined his Northampton upbringing, spent fixated on poly-nylon sportswear (ACW), and the Issey Miyake-heavy wardrobe he wears to work now (A-Cold-Wall). It’s a savvy move for a business that continues to expand at a remarkable rate: the designer proudly notes that his debut pre-fall collection surpassed sales expectations, even in the midst of a pandemic, by 180%.
Elsewhere, the grants which, last summer, Ross personally distributed to struggling Black-owned British businesses, or collaborated with Daniel Arsham to allocate to Black artists, designers, and architects, are now being brought under the umbrella of his business. “I’ve taken a slight pause because I want to make sure that what started off as a direct response can evolve into a system and a structure,” says Ross, who plans to orient the initiatives towards “any areas who need support: whether it’s POC, the working class, or trans people.” After all, he says, “My identity is part of the heartbeat of the brand and our following, but it’s not all of it. My identity politics and the company’s identity politics will always be interlinked, but they’re not one and the same. It’s more about a generational value system than one which is determined by race.”
If last year forced fashion’s hand in any direction besides loungewear, it was towards brands making their societal standpoints clear, a sentiment that Ross is embracing enthusiastically. “In this day and age, it’s impossible for a modern business not to consider sharing and support the values of its consumer demographic,” reflects the designer. “It should just be a default to signal where you sit.” In terms of aesthetics and philosophies alike, and despite the newly-defined borders disrupting distribution, this season firmly positions Ross’s placement on the global stage.