Samuel Mark Clyma

Samuel Clyma straddles disciplines and languages in his practice. Moving from New Plymouth to Auckland straight out of high school, he originally studied fine arts before being drawn to the creative potential in fashion.

A self-confessed knowledge-seeker, Sam’s interest in both fields led to hours of research in the University of Auckland Fine Arts Library. In particular, he enjoyed reading how fashion was written about as much as the process or product itself – "seeing how fashion, as a visual language, could be translated into a written one and experiencing fashion outside its directly physical nature," he explains. Sam’s work engages with the conceptual. All the information he consumes helps him to formulate conceptual ideas, and the objects he creates in his design practice are an extension of these ideas in physical form.

Shifting back-and-forth between art and fashion design present Sam with both challenges and benefits, as he has found that not being design-trained allows him to explore more experimental methods of creation. A series of handbags, created as part of his Fine Arts Honours work at Elam in 2014, attempted to describe an "experience of baseness" through moving and removing traditional design features. For example, the placement of zips and openings at the bottom of the bag, rather than the top. His practice also subverts the visual grammar of standard fashion construction. The bags embody Sam’s approach to fashion and art as forms of communication.

After being part of the 2014 New Zealand Fashion Museum exhibition, Elle and the Youthquake, Sam lived in London for two years. He worked for a family-owned leather bag and accessory label, where he "learnt an invaluable amount of knowledge".

After London Sam moved to Wellington and studied a certificate of Small Business Management to prepare for the launch of his label, Samuel Mark Clyma, in May 2019. His designs are currently stocked at The Service Depot in Wellington and The Shelter in Auckland.

Text by Arielle Walker. Banner photo by Frances Carter.

First published September 2014, updated May 2020.

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