T E N S Studio

We speak with North London born designer & founder of Tens Studios Samantha Russell . Creator of Handmade-to-order two piece click suits & one offs pieces.

Saving Grace 5 years ago

So… tell us about yourself  where you from, where are based what do you do?

I’m originally from North West London via Hertfordshire and a whole bunch of other places but have lived in South London for 17 years. I am based in Peckham and I have a studio in Soho where I design and make clothes, two piece outfits for men and women. I also design the prints, sometimes in collaboration with friends/artists.

What the story behind the brand name, why tens studio?

So I started the brand with a friend (she left a few months after to start her own brand) and we had been trying to think of a name for days, we literally spent two days in my flat brainstorming but couldn’t agree on anything. We then came across a website where you put words in like a calculator and from that it generated a list of words. We had tried everything else and were beginning to go a bit mad. this was our last resort. I think we put in ‘top to toe’ (lol) and T E N S came out, who knows how they came to that conclusion but the date was 10.01 so we went with it. 

You’re fashion designer how & when did you get into design is something you’ve known from a young age or did you study?

I started making clothes for myself about 12 years ago, I’d make myself two pieces for carnival or for my birthday. Before Tens was a thing I started by making men’s boxer shorts, I think I only sold two pairs! At this point I had been working in education for 10 years and wanted a change so I decided to give up my job and did a 6 week internship in the sample room of a Russian fashion house in West London. Me and my friend Bea, who started the brand with me, rented a shop in Holdron’s arcade where we taught ourselves how to pattern cut and make the clothes we wanted to sell. I made the pattern for a shirt, graded it into small, medium and large and made one in each size for the launch of our shop three months later. 

You have ranges for both men & women, its there any difference in how you approach designing pieces for different genders?

I started off by designing unisex silhouettes but then introduced a cropped jacket, mini skirt and short shorts. I design things I would like to wear. There’s not really much more to it than that. 

Everything’s hand made right, do you have a team or do you literally do that all yourself?

At the moment I literally do it all myself. I’d love to have a team, doing everything yourself is long. Hopefully by the end of the year ‘I’ will be ‘we’!

Are there any  changes or developments in field of fashion that you feel have really helped you and the tens studio brand & 
equally anything happening that you feel hinders you and the brand?

Fashion Revolution is a global movement asking for a greater transparency within the fashion industry and I feel that is helping smaller brands like me because people are thinking about where they buy their clothes from. People are thinking twice about buying from fast fashion brands and are looking for independent and slow fashion brands where they know who made their clothes. Also I think people are buying less shit and investing in better quality clothes that last longer than the rubbish you get in Primark. These kinds of high street, fast fashion shops that are producing clothes unethically are able to produce them so cheaply that people are unaware of how much it actually costs to make a garment when it’s not made by a child. Fast fashion is a hinderance because people have lost the connection to craftsmanship.  

The station series… can you explain the inspiration behind that?

I am interested in details, cross sections of buildings, the tops of buildings, textures. When I’m waiting for a train I entertain myself by searching for parts of the station that I like and I take a photo of it. I didn’t have prints or clothes or anything to do with T E N S in mind, I just liked doing it. Maybe a year later I started playing around with them and decided to use them for my next print collection. I’ve got so many, they’ll probably be a Station Series II. 

Something about your style makes me think Africa 3019, I’m not sure if that just me but where do you consider your influences come from?

A lot of people say that, not the 3019 part but they say it reminds them of African prints. I am influenced by 80’s Jamaica, rudeboy culture and it’s journey to London in the 80’s and 90’s. I am influenced by British sound and bass culture. When I started making clothes I would use a lot of African fabrics that I would buy in Peckham which must have had an influence on me. 

Are there any particular brands that you love or currently rate?

I have always liked Maharishi and Carhartt. Print wise, off key Mosch and vintage Versace have always been inspiration. I love Clark’s Originals because I LOVE Wallabees, they are my favourite shoe, I’ve got so many pairs. I keep tagging Clark’s Originals in my posts and stories hoping they will sponsor me, hahaha, I haven’t heard anything yet. There are independent brands that I rate because they are my friends and I see the hard work they put in, brands like Sturla, Meme Gold, Mojo Kojo, Kyodai and Done London. 

If you could travel back in time and chat to a 10 year old version of yourself what would you tell her?

Oh! So much! First of all I would say don’t give up on the 100m, you could have been the next Linford Christie. Then I would tell her not to waste your teenage years (and all of your twenties) caring about what other people think about you. Learn an instrument, take your degree seriously and get a pension. 

So whats next on the cards for Tens studio, anything we should keep our eyes peeled for in 2019?

I’ve got an intern for the Summer! I’m so gassed to have someone working with me! She is amazing, I don’t want her to leave. Her name is Charlotte and she is a design student. We are going to be designing the next print collection together. We are both into 90’s Black British culture so we drawing our inspiration from that nostalgia and Rudeness. It’s going to be completely different from the Station Series. We’ve got something really exciting planned for the campaign, if it all goes to plan it’s going to be heavy!

You can find out more about the tens studio brand by visiting:

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