Chris Stamp is surprisingly chill before his presenting his Spring/Summer ‘17 collection. Dressed in all black, fresh Puma Suedes on his feet, Stamp gives off the same pulled-together yet casual vibe in person that his clothes, draped on models who stand amidst an interpretation of a Japanese Zen rock garden, do in the presentation.
It’s an approach that Stamp has used to great effect. After developing the business plan for his brand Stampd in college, Stamp has smartly and creatively grown over the past five years. He was recently named a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, an initiative designed to foster the next generation of American designers, and could receive $400,000 if he wins. The honor was an important step for Stamp, but also for the style of streetwear he creates. Stamp designs casual pieces—T-shirts, baseball caps, sweatshirts—that have a clean, minimal aesthetic that lends an air of luxury to them. But they come in at accessible prices: a new trench coat goes for $375, whereas other designers would ask if he left of a zero.
We sat down with Stamp to discuss his new collection, how his background in surfing inspires his creative process, and what it’s like to get the nod from Anna Wintour.
What was your goal with this collection?
Evolution, and upping what we’d done last season. I’m also taking a new approach to how we’re getting the clothes out there. This presentation features a preview for Spring/Summer ‘17 and also immediate styles that will be available on our site and in our store tomorrow and then a few styles that will be available throughout the rest of the year.
As a designer, what is it like to be designing for all of these different times in the calendar?
Nothing is easy by any means. I’m trying to bring it back so we’re a little closer to market when we go this wide with something that’s going to hit a lot of different press. I want to make sure we can give the consumers what they want immediately as opposed to showing something and then 6 to 7 months later it’s available. It’s been a juggling act. We’ve never done it before but this is the direction we want to be moving in so you’ve got to start somewhere.
With regards to the clothes themselves, what were you inspired by with these designs?
The overall concept is about going against the grain and fighting the norm. I want to make things that feel, fit-wise and quality-wise, like luxury. But I want to be able to give it to my consumer at a good price. We’re not trying to kill people with our prices. I want it to be accessible. The spring collection looks fire. I’m excited about it.
What was your reaction to being named a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award?
It was slightly nerve-wracking. They build it up to the last hour before they call you. I was so blessed and humbled. For someone who started making hats and accessories and is influenced by luxury and street, to be recognized by Anna and the Vogue team is an awesome accolade.
Where were you when you found out?
I was in New York, coming back from Paris. They wanted you to be in New York waiting to hear. I was like, “So I just need to be chilling in my hotel room?“ Finally, Steven [Kolb, President of the CFDA] called me and said, “Congratulations.” It was pretty rad.
What does it mean for your brand of streetwear to be recognized by the larger fashion world in this way?
I think it’s an amazing step for everyone working within this division. For them to recognize that this is a significant part of the industry and we’re real players within fashion is super awesome.
You first developed the business plan for Stampd when you were in college. What is it like to see the company grow to this point?
It’s surreal. I’ve definitely put in the work, but every day I get to wake up and do what I love. I’ve created a team of some of my best friends around me. We just make things for a living and that’s awesome.
Los Angeles is really ascendant in fashion right now, especially in menswear. Why do you think that is and what is it like to be a part of that movement?
Back in the day you didn’t really have the internet and social media so the only way that you could see collections was if you could afford to go to New York or Paris. With the way social media has evolved, it’s given a bigger voice to a lot of different creatives. With L.A. specifically, we used to be based around women’s and denim and streetwear. Now there’s a chance for us to show what’s available as far as an elevated level of taste among Southern California kids. People that grew up in Los Angeles or San Diego going to the beach but also listening to hip-hop. There’s a lot of talent coming out of SoCal and I think we’re having an ill moment.
Are there things you find yourself continually going back to as sources for inspiration?
Music, for sure, is a big one. I grew up listening to hip-hop and now listen to all kinds of different music. Also surfing, being in the ocean. I don’t get to do it as much as I used to but it’s been an underlying theme within what we do for awhile. We still make trunks every season. A lot of what I’ve been influenced by over the past couple of years is Japanese minimalism and also Danish design. I combined the two for this show. We did a Japanese rock garden with a Zen feel and had a young Danish producer do the music for the show to bring both those inspirations together.
How does your surfing background influence your creative process?
[Surfing is] a very zen environment for me. You get out there, you’re not talking to anyone, you’re not around your phone. It’s just you with the ocean, taking it all in and being able to think clearly. I wanted this presentation to reflect that vibe. It’s clean and fresh so you can focus on the looks.
Sneaker collaborations have been a big thing for your brand, was that always part of the plan?
When I wrote my business plan in college, it was initially [focused on] footwear. I’ve always been a big lover of footwear, and sneakers especially. I was given an opportunity a couple years ago to work with Puma consistently and I’ve been doing some awesome sneakers with them over the last few seasons.
What were the iconic sneakers for you growing up?
The Puma Suedes, which I’m wearing now. Adidas Shelltoes, Air Force 1s, Vans Authentics. Those were all staples. I’ve always been a very minimalist type of person. Clean lines, not too many different colors.
What’s next for you?
The CFDA thing is going to be a big one over the next few months. We have our next collection with Puma coming out August 6. We’ve got a bunch more collaborations coming up in the next year that I can’t speak about yet but we’ve got a lot going on for sure.