Samsara Collections is an independent fashion label based out of Los Angeles, specializing in conceptual sportswear and high end streetwear. As one of our first collaborators, and with by far some of the most creative videos on the app, we were eager to catch up with creative director Tarpley Brooks Jones to talk about his unique style and innovative design methods.
Interview by Jayne Phillips
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I established my business in 2015 and it is a full time job. I have been working home for the first year and now transitioning into a studio in downtown L.A. I run a web shop and I am very focused on online sales. I work almost exclusively through digital means to create all the contemporary garments in a unique way. The mission being to create the future of ready-to-wear by maintaining a fashion forward approach and focus on experience for the consumer, while also striving for the highest ethical standards of sustainable process, environmental responsibility and social transparency. I make the all the items via computer instead of experimenting hands on. I think my approach is very new age and I compare it to an electronic music producer who makes music from a computer instead of with “real” instruments.
How did you decide upon the name Samsara Collections?
Samsara is the never ending, never beginning cycle of life and death. Ideas of reincarnation and karma can be associated with this. Samsara means different things to different religions, but for me, I see it through a Buddhist lens. The goal of Buddhism is to try and break out of the cycle and achieve the higher state of nothingness, to break free of the human reincarnation and karmic energy. So the clothing is a reflection of this cycle on earth and was made in attempt to open peoples’ eyes and break out of it.
What has inspired the creative direction behind your designs?
I would say my first designs were inspired by internet subculture art, such as Sea Punk, and combining this with a futuristic, cyberpunk approach. Although now I am changing out of this style because I believe it is healthy to keep evolving. I am more into minimal, military dystopian designs but still maintaining the extremism of what I was doing before.
What was your most interesting sale to date?
Probably my wholesale order to DOG HJK in Japan was the most interesting. I sold them the collection without speaking the language of the buyers, yet I managed to find common ground with the clothing and that’s what I thought was so cool. Secondly, because DOG HJK is such a respected streetwear retail shop around the world. It was a surreal experience.
You mentioned that you make all of your garments via computer, rather than using traditional methods. What are the benefits of this approach?
I am a visual artist. I create everything in my head. I prefer to work here instead of hands on. This is where the digital approach comes from. So first I visualise the garments I want in my head, then I translate that vision to digital flats on the computer, and then I work in Adobe programs to create the sublimated designs. Once I had my designs I found manufacturers to create the clothing. Everything for the first two years was done like this, without even leaving my living room. All digital, from concept to the clothes arriving at my door. This process is changing as we speak but still the clothes always start in my head then translate digitally.
There appears to be an overtly political message in your designs – such as the ‘Mass Media is a Weapon, Trust Yourself,’ and of course the wonderful ‘Zero Fucks to Give Rave Pants’ that we see in your YEAY video. How do you view the intersection of politics and fashion?
Politics has become the driving force within my fashion line messages. I believe there is an amazing opportunity to make a statement about our world through art, and then inspire change and open awareness. This is one of my main goals, and why I use so many political inspirations in my work. I believe Samsara can be one of the many voices to create a better world. If putting controversial statements on garments starts conversations, inspires change and makes someone evaluate their situation, then I have done my job.
You told us that you are striving for ‘the highest ethical standards of sustainable process, environmental responsibility and social transparency.’ Would you like to share some of the steps you take to achieve this goal?
The biggest change occurring at Samsara right now is my shift to becoming an ethical, sustainable, and transparent fashion label. The fashion industry is a complete mess when it comes to the amount of waste, poor labor conditions, and environmental disasters that have been occurring. Samsara is starting this process in a few ways.
1. Eco Friendly Fabric – The first step in all of this, in my opinion, begins with the fabrics we make clothing from. My next collection is made entirely of hemp fabrics and a few organic cottons. Cotton is one of the hardest crops to harvest, and is not sustainable in nature, while Hemp is one of the easiest crops to harvest. It requires no pesticides, and lasts longer than cotton. Hemp can be our future, as well as finding other fabric alternatives.
2. Transparency – In a corporate world full of lies, it is up to our young businesses and entrepreneurs to try something new: the TRUTH! Our goal at Samsara is to do things right, every step of the way. From fabric, to sourcing, to production, to pricing, we will remain transparent with what we do.
3. Ethical Capitalism – This is the most important thing of all. The biggest problem with business is that the main goal is profit. If this is your only goal, you will do whatever it takes to generate that profit.
At Samsara our goal is not just profit. We understand that in business you must make money, but this is not our main mission. Our main mission is to deliver fashionable products under ethical and social responsibilities, and profit comes after this fact. If the products are not produced ethically and we are not socially responsible, then the profit means nothing to us. This change is imperative if we want to continue in a capitalistic world. Feed the whole, then feed yourself, instead of feeding yourself and taking from the whole.
What is on the horizon for Samsara Collections? I’ve heard rumours that you’ll be making an appearance at Berlin Alternative Fashion Week, which is very exciting. Can you confirm?
We have a big fall lined up at Samsara. We have three shows lined up to showcase our first ethically produced fashion collection. The line is called No Body No Mind. We are first doing a show on September 26 with LA Fashion Week. This will be a live streamed performance that features a progressive take on fashion showcasing the clothes, music, and theatrics to create a more immersive environment. Then it will be off to Berlin to show at BAFW on October 1st. Finally we end in Mexico City with Crom Magazine on October 16th. I am very excited about the future of Samsara and think that with this latest collection I have matured as a Creative Director and designer. I think you will see that translated in the clothes as well.