Samanta Bullock, an inspirational model and sports person, modelled deconstructed denim during the Swedish School of Textiles show during Fashion Scout SS18. As fashion makes gradual changes toward inclusivity and body positivity, we caught up with the model to hear her unique perspective on an adapting industry, how we can pioneer the ultimately modern movement forward, why in the midst of an extensive and impressive international career, you should and can remain humble and true to your original progressive ambition.
There are not often moments, when you interview somebody, and come away astounded. Samanta is known for her incredible persistence and commitment to her love for modelling, and this is never more obvious then when discussing how she champions change. Opening up this passion and memorising attitude to others is her personal way of reminding everyone that with creativity and hard work, you can get what you want irrespective of societal ideals. Samanta’s achievements are varied and many, yet it is her refreshing thirst for life and fashion that energises those around her. When asked how this perspective is the driving force behind positively altering perceptions, Samanta explains her train of thought.
“we need to be the change we want to see in the world. I’m trying to do my best for the planet for the animals, and you need to do your best for other human beings- who is going to say that someone is better or worse than me? There is no worse or better, so we have to keep pushing and if I put my faith there, I’m sure I’ll hear a lot of people saying no no no but one yes is good enough for us to keep going.”
Whilst it can be easy to lose sight of the essentials when success comes around, Samanta is firm and focused, and when asked what advice she would offer a young person who feels that their dream career may be out of reach, it is hard work and resilience that Samanta puts at the forefront. As an ambassador for Models of Diversity, her work to elevate the other models is developing a new generation of more inclusive models.
"You’re going to get a lot of no’s. But embrace the yes. I think one of the things that I could say, is think out of the box, think out of the box because there are a lot of creative people and there will always be someone that’s going to embrace and trust your ideas. Don’t take no as an answer, keep pushing, and embrace with all your power, your yes. I would say that, everyone's going to say yes...but it’s not true.”
“When you get your yes it’s much more special. If you always have yes then that’s not so fun. “
Designing specifically with a differently abled body in mind requires a particular knowledge and insight into the wearers experiences with clothes. These challenges were approached by Swedish designer Louise Linderoth in her SS18 collection, “Have a Seat”, showcased as part of the Swedish School of Textiles show, in deconstructing denim to be comfortable and wearable for wheelchair users. When asked about the power of clothing, Samanta explains
“The clothes they need to be comfortable but they need to be comfy in the way that are also pretty. What’s the point to be wearing hospital clothes, the clothes for old people have a lot of velcro a lot of light blue. There’s no fashion in that. You still want to be able to express yourself through your clothes. You need to feel beautiful, so that you feel confident and you want to go out.”
We live in a world full of diversity, of unique people with specific experiences of life and of fashion. If fashion is a way to represent yourself and express your personality, then it should work for all. The narrow view of current representation is slowly expanding, and Samanta recognises and champions this need to show a cross section of society.
“We are 20 percent, you know which is great, why don’t they embrace that? With real people, you have men, women, someone that are six years old some that are 40 years old, it's showing the real people. Its not you know, only very skinny girls, twenty years old.”
When asked what Samanta hopes to achieve through her work, in ensuring that everybody is recognised and questioning the current ideals of beauty, that disclude so many people, her attitude is enduringly powerful and enchanting.
“We have in mind that it’s going there, people are talking about it. I don’t want to have a negative approach, like ‘oh fashion is doing nothing... because it’s not the right approach. The right approach is like, wow, they are doing! Keep doing. Push hard.”
There’s currently more of a feeling toward body positivity and it’s going to be quite a slow journey, that celebrates all people in terms of gender identity, race, age, sexuality, ability and size- it’s an entire spectrum. Fashion and it's artistic cultural value, is one industry that can be a pioneer of change. Samanta is particularly compelling as she recognises that her focus, advocating diverse models, is a move toward a society that celebrates all people for their individuality.
I’m telling you ok about disability, but it's everything, no one is better than another one, between someone that is 20 years old, and someone that is 56 years old. if you're disabled you need to buy clothes, if you’re a man you need to buy as well. [The industry] needs to show all this diversity. We are so beautiful you know, no tree is the same as another one, human beings we are not. So what is beautiful when you see a forest, is the massive diversity, because all trees are different”
Words by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins