Meet Samuel Clark. The Switzerland-based doctor with a love of art and fashion. Founder of fashion brand Bourbon Summer Cartoon Crisis, Clarke’s designs explore the tension between ostentatious prints and refined silhouettes to find meaning and beauty amidst the chaos. Bourbon Summer Cartoon Crisis is a men’s and women’s ready to wear brand that focuses on creating exquisitely constructed clothing from the most sumptuous and sustainable fabrics that are comfortable and flattering.
Meet Samuel Clarke, Founder of Bourbon Summer Cartoon Crisis
These unique designs will certainly capture your attention
Clarke’s artwork, which is heavily featured in his designs, is incorporated into every garment creating wardrobe staples with an artistic flair alongside the brand’s standout pieces. These garments embody the CRISIS philosophy—finding meaning and beauty amidst the chaos that surrounds us, with everything being produced by local artisans in The Garment District.
We spoke with Clarke to learn more about Bourbon Summer Cartoon Crisis, and what’s in store for the brand in the future.
ONE37pm: Samuel, you have such an interesting journey. There’s not many people that can say they’re both doctors and fashion designers with their own line. How long have you loved fashion?
Clarke: Hello One37pm! I’ve loved fashion for as long as I can remember. Taking two dimensional cloth and making clothes for a dynamic three dimensional body is a fascinating problem to solve. But it's so much more than that. Fashion allows the wearer to comment on history, culture and identity. In high school, I loved these two Marc Jacobs striped polos I had. I could wear them with khaki shorts and it was preppy. I could wear them with ripped jeans and it was punk. These subtle decisions can entirely change your identity for the day.
My love for fashion has only grown more profound. Not only is it a vehicle for my art but it is a way that others can interact with it. I love how other people style my clothing. It really feels like a dialogue. Recently, fashion has become a means for enacting the ethical principles that are important to me - sustainability, inclusivity and supporting local manufacturing.
ONE37pm: What made you decide to start a fashion line?
Clarke: As an artist I am all about immersion. I create complex environments populated with strange figures that you can get lost in. Clothing yourself in the artwork is the height of the immersive experience. This has always given me such a wonderful sense of escapism. I wanted to share this feeling, that was only half of the motivation. Making clothes satisfies deep ethical obligations. Our company is committed to sustainability, inclusivity and supporting local manufacturers. We use incredible textiles that are comfortable, drape beautifully AND are biodegradable and low carbon.
Our passion for inclusivity is evident in the models we choose for our photography but also in the artwork itself. Finally, we feel passionate about supporting local manufacturers. The most rewarding aspect of this company has been the personal relationship I have developed with our manufacturer. It is a small family enterprise in The Garment District and they are exceptional. They bring the clothes to life with their attention to detail and their feedback has been invaluable.
ONE37pm: Talk to us about the beginning of Bourbon Summer Cartoon Crisis.
Clarke: BOURBON SUMMER CARTOON CRISIS! was born in 2019. I was lucky enough to marry a woman with impeccable style and we created the collections together. Our idea was to start a fashion company where the clothes would be treated like art with value that transcended seasonality. We wanted to accomplish this by dedicating each collection to a different artwork. Our first collection, THE FORMAL AFFAIR, centered around a chaotic party occurring in the middle of a vast, dark ocean.
For about 18 months I made every conceivable mistake that a fashion novice could. The prototypes were saggy and unflattering. I used most of our runway money for a deposit with a shady company. Basically I didn’t know what I was doing. Luckily, I found our current production manager who really DOES know what she is doing and we finally started to make clothes that I was proud of.
ONE37pm: What inspires your designs? Obviously we are aware of the cartoon component which is so unique, but anything else?
Clarke: Frankly, the origin of the images is as much of a mystery to me as to anyone else. Ever since I was a little kid, I would daydream these bizarre scenes. I have them all bumping around in my head and I choose the best ones to realize. The most interesting images contain a range of emotions that are often contradictory.
There is a parallel here with medicine. I have always been struck by the fact that a single hospital room can contain sadness, anger but also gratitude, relief and acceptance. The whole range of human emotions all at once. I find this incredibly poignant. My artwork is whimsical and chaotic but the most important parts of every image are the small pearls of poignancy.
Clarke: I am so glad you ASKED! We have recently launched our latest collection, THE PARADES, which follows a bizarre group of figures trudging across a blighted urban landscape. It is available now (BeholdCRISIS.com) and we have crafted the items to be light and comfortable for the hotter weather. This collection is bright, colorful and celebratory. The perfect way to emerge from a couple of years in lock down! In the fall we will be releasing an accessories collection that will be as audacious as it is impractical, hah!
Be sure to keep up with all of Bourbon Summer Cartoon Crisis’s latest releases via their website.