Couverture & The Garbstore

Selector's Market

Sitting Down With Sam Trotman

For the latest instalment of our Selector’s Market, we enlisted Trend Consultant and Journalist Sam Trotman, a.k.a. @samutaro, to pick out some vintage grails from Unified Goods.

The digital world can be hard to navigate, especially with the constant influx of new opinions and personas, all fighting for your attention. One man who’s been able to carve a niche whilst also resonating with the masses is Sam Trotman, but you probably know him as @samutaro. With a wealth of industry knowledge gained by working as a trend and denim consultant, Sam utilizes his experience, alongside a love of skating, music and culture, to educate his loyal online following on what’s happening now, but more importantly, what influenced what's happening now. We sat down with the man behind the gram to discuss his experiences and inspirations, including his recent Selector’s Market curation with Unified Goods – a London-based marketplace that specialises in collectible artefacts spanning six generations.

Hi, Sam! Really appreciate you taking the time out to talk. To start, could you tell us a bit about what you do?

I run an IG page called @samutaro, where I curate content around fashion, art and culture. I use it as a big cultural platform to tease out the most interesting stories and investigations into cultural phenomena and provide insight into these niche subjects.

What about fashion initially grabbed your attention growing up, and when did you decide to follow it as a career?

Music and skateboarding were my initial gateways into fashion growing up, and I’d have subscriptions to magazines like The Source and Sidewalk magazine, where I would pour through pages taking in the shoots and style pages to see how the artists and skaters were wearing the brands. My curiosity in style and subcultures has always pushed me to look beyond just surface level though, and explore the different facets that make a subculture interesting. I was way more interested in the people wearing it and why. Its this dynamic between the street and fashion that really inspired me to go into trend research and design consultancy 

Most people will likely know you from your Instagram page @samutaro. What inspired you to launch it, and did you ever expect it to get this big?

I initially started it as just a dumping ground to share the subjects I was interested in. Through my work in trend consultancy, I have always enjoyed the process of research, story building and providing narratives that give the reader insight into the wider picture of what makes culture tick. I also see myself first and foremost as a fan of the culture, so I always take the view of an enthusiast as opposed to an expert because I think it is that curiosity and genuine love for the topics I write about that really resonates with the reader.  A lot of mainstream media platforms have lost the importance to give an inclusive approach to these stories and speak to the reader on a level that can be understood by both the purist and tourist.

Recent times have seen an insurgence in fashion-led Instagram mood boards and archives, racking up a heap of likes and interactions, but you clearly have a more educational viewpoint. It would be great to hear about your research process, and how exactly you’ve accumulated so much knowledge within these fields.

I’d honestly say it has always been about curiosity. Each post is pretty spontaneous as I try to stay reactive and share whatever is inspiring me each day. There are certain reoccurring themes that I touch on, whether it's cars, anime or video games, which have always been some of my personal interests, but I try to keep an open mind in providing a lens on what is happening in wider culture, too. This is why you can find quite diverse stories on the feed. I can’t say that I'm an expert in everything I write about. There are plenty of people who have deeper knowledge around me, so I try to reach out to my network of friends and family to help provide the right insight. Like most of my readers though, I too love to discover new information, and I love to curate all this knowledge through my feed.

What factors do you pay attention to when searching for your next story?

The content is often rooted in the relationship between past and present. I might see something that is happening now, and I’ll provide a lens on what is driving it and the historical context behind it. A good example is a recent piece I published on 90s face piercings, explaining why fashion brands and influencers are coopting this look and then diving into the cultural history behind it. This way you can provide knowledge for the younger generation while also touching on nostalgia for a generation who perhaps lived through that the first time. I think those emotional triggers are what make the content engaging.

Together with Unified Goods, you’ve curated an edit of vintage grails. Could you talk us through some of your favourite pieces?

James at Unified Goods has an incredible collection of vintage items, which made the process really easy for me to pull together my selection. As a big vintage tee collector, I focused on the graphic T-shirts so you can find some rarities from 90s skateboarding, whether its the OG Mark Gonzales designed Blind logo tee or classic Shorty’s and Independent ones. I threw in some unique band tees, too; there’s a special Sonic Youth 'Goo’ tee that features an allover textured print, a simple Bjork ‘Debut’ graphic, as well as a tie-dye The Cure tee that will no doubt fly out. I also pulled a couple of the more wider cultural tees, that draw on art and pop culture references. The D.A.R.E. and William S. Boroughs are some of my favourites.

Your curation is packed with pieces from the 80s, 90s and 00s. What brands and subcultures from these eras had the biggest impact on your personal style?

Growing up, I was mostly active and interested in subcultures and scenes around skateboarding, grunge, nu-metal and electronic music.

What shops and cities do you gravitate towards when searching for rare pieces?

LA and Tokyo are definitely two of my favourite cities to shop for vintage. A few good spots that are worth checking out are Blue Room (Tokyo), Varsity and 194 Local (LA).

Who do you think – within the realms of fashion, art, and music – is making waves at the moment, and who should we look out for in the future?

In London, there is a wave of artists and creatives from the African diaspora, in particular Nigeria who are driving culture right now. Motherlan, Mowalola, Clint 419 and Cruel Santino are some of the ones to watch.

What trends are you most excited to see unfold over the coming season/s?

It's been interesting to see how digital design is impacting both the fashion and art world, so I'm curious to see what else happens with that in the coming year.