4. In a moment of serendipity, I met Sam Oiwoh in a UK-based fashion store located in New York City. Originally from London, Sam moved to New York to work as a stylist and to embrace NY living. Almost a year later, I interview Sam.
Does Fashion Matter?
I personally don’t think fashion itself matters, because everything comes and goes. Though I am a true believer that personal style is what defines us, it’s a way of telling our personal story without saying a single word. Personal style is what matters.
Last book you read?
I am currently reading A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes.
Does fashion have anything to hide?
I do believe in some form it does hide the insecurities of the majority, though it’s a select few that honours and believes it’s a way to interpret a different side of ourselves.
Do you subvert expectations or challenge conventions in the fashion world?
I try to challenge everything when it comes to fashion. Fashion shouldn’t be complicated, rather a place to express yourself. Rules are meant to be broken and we need more fashion rule breakers.
What was the last fashion show you attended?
I attended the Prabal Gurung
What inspires you?
Architecture, nature, women in general, music, Art.
Do you have a philosophy of fashion?
None, fashion should always be easy and most importantly comfortable for YOU.
Do you care about labels?
Absolutely not, because nowadays everyone copies each other. So basically we are living in a world of uniforms.
Favourite fashion designer?
Tough one, Hedi Slimane and Kris Van Asshce
Best advice someone once told you?
No matter what, we need love and that’s what would set us free.
Where would you most like to be right now?
South of France in Nice.
Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
Are you a feminist?
Absolutely, I was raised by all women.
Have you seen Hysterical Literature?
What do you love most about New York?
The ability to get lost with no one knowing anything about you and you can become whomever you fancy.
Have you ever had a near-death experience?
Yes, at the age of 19 I was caught in a massive gun shootout and funny enough the one thing I remembered doing was taking off my top before I laid on the ground so it wouldn’t get stained. Haha!
Best style advice?
Less is always more.
Consider the dimensionality of representation in the archive; a concern of archival research is: How much information do we need to piece together an accurate depiction of what the archive seeks to represent, particularly if archives (books, people, words and objects) possess manifold constellations of contingencies? Notice the absent questions – what other aspects of Sam’s (archived) personality will we never have access to?
In Fashion Matters, Frances Corner recalls when a colleague of hers at the London College of Fashion asked staff to deconstruct and read the clothes he was wearing (Corner 91). The deconstruction involved colleagues sharing their conclusions about his background, education and cultural choices (Corner 91). Although the exercise speaks to the risks of jumping to conclusions, it reinforced how we
use our clothes as a proxy for language, and as with all communication our appearance can be misunderstood (Corner 91). To draw an archival analogy, where Sam’s words are the metaphorical clothes we decode to make sense of a feature of his character, both words and bodies are repositories of archives. This interview is an expressive archival medium – no matter how small or large, the archive is never comprehensive – it cannot contain the entirety of a person or an event. In this sense, as Derrida reasons, the archive
opens out of the future – thus, arguably the archive is infinite (Derrida 67).
Lisa Samuels, a transcultural writer and poet brought my attention to page 169 of Lisa Robertson’s book, Occasional Works (2003), where Robertson articulates that research itself is called forth by negative knowing: it
intuits absence (Robertson 169). We are deceived by the archive when we have too little or too much information because archives are constellated contingencies that lead to new peripheries. We know where the archive comes from, but what about where it’s going? The archive deceives when it is limited by the knowledge it collects, stores, and by what has not been written down; absence is an important part of history – we need to find ways to work with both archival presence and absence.