words Matisse Chambers
Sammy McCormack started his brand, ‘Why Clothing’ at as young as 13 to help escape the pressures of high school. Now, at age 22, he’s got nine years of experience in the industry, reached over 1.6 million people on TikTok and is growing his brand on an international scale. ‘Why Clothing’ is more than just a brand, it encourages its wearers to have self-belief and ask questions, while instilling confidence through the garments.
A multipurpose creative, McCormack, graduated from UniSA in 2021, earning himself a Bachelor of Architectural Studies, while signing to Finesse Models Australia in the same year. He gives us an insight into how his brand all started, the biggest challenges he’s faced and how his university degree has helped him along the way.
How did your love for clothing and fashion start?
I first found a passion for clothing and business when learning the process of screen-printing at the age of 13. Self-taught through YouTube videos and with the support of my family, I started creating designs for t-shirts that I would sell to my friends and family. What started as a creative outlet to help me deal with the pressures of high school, soon turned into a small business, where I would sell to locals at clothing markets, through social media and online to people all over Australia. On top of my first business, I would also come up with designs and create t-shirts and hoodies for local businesses, sports teams and school events. This really improved my ability to communicate and work with others to give them the best product possible. It also allowed me to get better at my craft and continue to improve my screen-printing and design skills.
How did you come up with and settle on the name ‘Why Clothing’ and does the brand hold a deeper meaning?
I started my brand Why Clothing in December 2018—a year after finishing high-school and while studying at university. The brand was a great creative outlet for me, as I love designing products and seeing people get great satisfaction out of owning/wearing them. I believe one of the most important things that everyone needs is to feel good, to have self-belief and to ask questions—to be the best you can be! This is something very important to me and is what Why Clothing is all about; and spreading a positive message and hopefully inspiring a few people along the way.
How would you describe the style of Why Clothing?
A mix of streetwear and high-fashion—with a positive message behind it.
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry, and do you have any dream collaborations for the future?
While we learnt about a lot of great artists at university, some of my biggest influences and inspirations come from all different creative fields. Some of my biggest influences come from music and film, along with fashion, of course. Virgil Abloh would have to be one of my biggest inspirations, especially when it comes to fashion. The way he has bridged the gap between the streetwear and high-fashion worlds is very interesting to me, something I do my best to emulate through my own work. Another big influence on me is Kanye West. In my book, he’s a creative genius. Similar to Virgil, he bridges the gap between various creative fields and does it very well! Music, Fashion, Architecture and Design—I have a real interest in all of these fields and have great admiration for those who don’t settle and just “stay in their lane”. If I could collaborate with anyone, it would be Ye.
Which part is your favourite in the creative process, designing the pieces, printing, or bringing them to life with a photoshoot and styling?
I love the creative process. There is a lot of work that goes into creating new collections; people are used to seeing the results, but never what goes in to make that happen! Every step is unique and exciting, It’s all my favourite part! However, I do really love photoshoots, seeing what has been in your head for so long, finally coming to life, and being able to share that with others.
What has been the biggest challenge through the creation of your clothing brand?
Reaching new people. Especially when starting my first brand at 13 years old. However, Over the past year and a half I have learnt a lot about social media, especially throughout the pandemic I have been spending much of my time on TikTok and Instagram, working to grow my audience and share my vision with others. TikTok especially has been really amazing, there are so many talented creators on the app that I come across every day. And being a part of that community and making videos that entertain and inspire people really brings me a lot of joy. I have been very fortunate to have reached millions of people all over the world through my videos on TikTok. Having over 110k followers and 1.6 million likes across all my videos is so crazy to me and something I am incredibly grateful for.
Does Why Clothing have a sustainability mission?
Yes! I believe it’s really important to create pieces of clothing that you’ll have forever and not just something you’ll wear a few times, then have it fall apart in the wash. This is probably something I learnt through university—to create products that will stand the test of time!
I have seen you have also recently been signed by Finesse Modelling agency here in Adelaide, tell us more about this journey.
Yes! That was something I really wasn’t expecting, it sort of just happened. I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years and as much as I love being behind the scenes, directing photoshoots and taking photos, I must admit, I have grown fond of being on the other side of the camera too. Although, I’m not quite as good as my friends! But you know, people seem to like when I am in photos, to put a face to the products and the hard work. I think this is where my interest sort of grew from, being able to dip my toes in the water for my own brand, and since joining TikTok in 2020, I have been in front of the camera a fair bit. This is something I have grown to enjoy, there is a long way to go, but, I can’t wait to get started with Finesse and to see where the journey takes me!
Do you have any tips or advice for those wanting to start up their own business?
Take the time to study (YouTube is your best friend), never give up, have self-confidence and put in the work to make it happen—It will happen!
I have also seen one of your TikTok’s blew up with 1.5 million views, that is incredible! Did this help with exposure for Why Clothing?
Yes! That was a really crazy time for me, completely unexpected… but, amazing. It 100% helped with getting more exposure, especially outside of Australia. Most importantly, it gave me a lot of belief that I was on the right track and that hard work pays off. Actually, a pretty crazy story that resulted from that viral video was seeing all these videos on my FYP from Mexican actress Isidora Vives, where her friend, Camilla, was wearing one of my hoodies! Isidora has over 8.2 million followers on TikTok and 1.7 million on Instagram. She posted 3 videos in one of my hoodies, which earned over 3 million views in total… suddenly, Why Clothing hoodies were flooding the streets of Mexico!
How are you finding post university life and what are your plans for this year?
University can definitely be tough at times (If you’re reading this and studying Architecture… I feel you). Nonetheless, as difficult as it was at times, there were so many great moments too, I loved it! However, I’m really enjoying my life away from university. Architecture taught me so much that I have been able to apply through Why Clothing already. Just a side note: even if you’re at university and not sure that what you’re studying is what you want to do in the future, it doesn’t need to be! But, what you learn at university and the opportunities that arise, can still be so valuable and can lead to so many things—even if you don’t know it yet. One of my good friends said that she ‘wears architecture’… I had never really thought about fashion that way, but she is completely right. And that’s exactly what I plan to do—create wearable architecture!
Lastly, what can we expect to see from Why Clothing in 2022?
Well, I’m hard at work on my next collection now! Why Clothing Season 7. There are a lot of very exciting things to come this year, and with this next project. I don’t want to get too deep into it and ruin the surprise, but it’s dropping before winter, and is going to be the best collection yet. There will be things that have never been seen or done before with clothing. I really mean that, It’s going to be very special, and I can’t wait to share it with you all! Oh yeah, you’ll probably see a lot more TikToks too…