Buro 24/7 Exclusive: An interview with Karin Gustafsson and Martin Andersson of Cos
Just be Cos
The wait is finally over; Cos opens its first store in Kuala Lumpur today—at 12 pm to be exact. Known for its commitment to functional design and quality, Cos (which stands for Collection of Style) finds its home at Pavilion Elite Mall, marking a new chapter for the Swedish brand.
The new space spans over approximately 500 metres and over two floors within the new Pavilion extension. Reflecting the Cos design aesthetic of clean-lines and natural elements, the store interior also features a lounge area with furniture from mid-century, modern designers. The store opens with its dynamic Autumn/Winter 2016 collection, so expect to see an eccentric and eclectic mix of warm colours, organic tones and draped proportions.
In conjunction with the Cos store opening, we had the opportunity to have a little chat with the brand's Creative Director, Karin Gustafsson and Head of Menswear Design, Martin Andersson in an exclusive interview below:
You have been with COS even when it was still a concept yet to be fully shaped and realised. How does it feel to watch it grow into a leading fashion brand today?
It's so interesting to have watched the brand grow and evolve. I remember when our first store on Regent Street opened and seeing the customer's reaction to the clothes, it really made me feel so proud to be part of COS. Looking back at all the activities we've done over the years, we've really come a long way!
With so many high-street labels in the market, what sets COS apart from its competitors?
I think as a brand we tend not to follow fashion trends but instead, create garments that have a timeless and modern quality that will last beyond the season. We try to keep garments functional, never over complicating things with zips and buckles that don't have a use on the garment.
There are COS stores in over a dozen countries, which now includes Malaysia. How do you maintain a unique mass appeal when considering so many different customers?
To date, we have been really fortunate that the COS ethos of quality garments at a comparably affordable price has been favourable in all our current markets. We continue to learn the intricacies of different markets and as you can imagine this takes a little time, but I am really looking forward to the Malaysian customer seeing our collection.
As a brand that does not use conventional advertising, how else do you plan on marketing the brand to Malaysian customers?
We prefer to take an organic approach rather than to advertise, instead we choose to host projects that we think will be of interest to our customer such as creating an art installation in conjunction with Salone del Mobile in Milan or supporting the Park Night Series at the Serpentine Gallery in London.
Art and architecture have always been a key influence in your designs. Can you tell us a bit more about your latest inspiration, Martino Gamper's 100 Days and 100 Chairs, and how it infiltrates the Autumn/Winter 2016 collection?
Martino Gamper is a London based Italian designer, who deconstructed unused chairs from London alleyways as well as friends' homes. He then reassembled them, 1 per day for 100 days, into poetic and often humorous forms. For me the deconstruction of a known item and then reassembling into an unknown alternative functional piece was especially interesting.
What are the key pieces and accessories off the new collection? Do you have a personal favourite?
One of my favourite pieces in this collection is the heather pea coat and trouser suit with functional pop buttons and raw-edges. We took inspiration from menswear for the tailoring of the piece; it has such a sleek silhouette. For accessories, one of my favourite pieces is the soft leather shopper that has been compressed with aluminium to create a kind of crinkled effect.
Can you explain your role as head designer at COS? What does your day typically involve?
For me every day is different, although more often than not I start my day with a flat white from this amazing coffee shop over the road from head office. I typically then do my emails and go into a range of different design meetings with the team.
Describe the essence of COS menswear. How do you think the aesthetics will appeal to men in Malaysia?
For me, the essence of COS menswear lies in classic garments with a modern twist. Within the collection, there are pieces for everyone from classic tailored pieces to more eclectic patterned pieces.
How do you stay inspired and continuously innovate on timeless collections? Do current trends influence your design and creative process?
As a brand we look to the art and design world for reference, we're so fortunate in London to have some incredible places to go to for inspiration like the Serpentine Gallery and the Tate Modern, both are always showing something new and interesting. As a team we spend time researching and experimenting with different effects with fabric. We don't ignore trends, but we are not heavily influenced by them.
You have been with the brand since 2008. What is your proudest achievement thus far?
It has been so rewarding to watch the brand's growth and development. With the brand turning 10 next year, it's great to be part of all the activities that we've done and be part of the journey.