To mark its 10 years anniversary, COS launched a capsule collection named 10, a collection that encompasses just as many interconnected pieces: each one determines the shape of the next one, just like in a puzzle. Therefore, the fabric is used entirely and there’s no room for any loss. The quality of the modern – yet timeless – clothes and the affordable prices turn COS into a brand appreciated by both the fashion aficionados and those who want to invest in pieces that don’t always follow trends only. Karin Gustafsson has been the Creative Director to make her mark on Collection of Style since its very beginning. We asked her some questions earlier this year:
COS 10th anniversary
How would you define your relationship with fashion?
Fashion has always been an intrinsic part of my life. My initial interest and exposure to fashion design came through my mother when I experimented with creating my own clothes and playing with patterns at an early age with her guidance. I joined COS directly following my graduation show at the Royal College of Art in London and I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. My interests have always revolved around architecture, contemporary art and interior design, which have a natural synergy with fashion.
What was the first thing you did after finding out you got the job as Creative Director at COS?
I can’t quite remember the first thing I did, but I do remember my feelings of huge excitement and a great sense of the new challenges ahead. Having been at COS from the very start, I was grateful to have the opportunity to work with the wider company, and learn from such a talented team.
The first fashion show you attended?
One of the first shows in London I attended which particularly sticks out was the Boudicca Spring Summer show in 2001 – the first year they presented at London Fashion Week. The garments were so well cut and deeply researched. The collection mixed masculinity and femininity, so a lot of their artistic ideals ran true with me and what we do at COS.
Are you more of an intuitive or an analytical kind of designer?
As a team I would say we take both approaches. We are continually analysing the fabrications of garment to ensure we are offering the highest quality at an affordable price. That said we still like to be playful in our collections and explore new fabrications, silhouettes and work with colour to create interest and a point of difference. When we design, we use a special technique, by which material is draped directly onto the mannequins to form the garment – this is a much more fluid and intuitive process.
What is your all time favourite COS item?
I would have to say the white shirt. We always include a form of it in our collections each season, always reinventing it with a twist so that it is a true timeless classic. The design team always aim to offer an inspiring collection comprised of wardrobe staples reinterpreted to fit the modern wardrobe and lifestyle as well as re-invented classics. Other pieces would be the tailored trouser, merino wool jumper, a selection of cotton t-shirts and classic brogues – pieces that can be styled in many different ways but are the core to your wardrobe.
What is your next most enjoyable thing to do at COS after designing?
Myself and the design team constantly seek out inspiration through our trips around the world and visits to the wealth of galleries available in London. I am so lucky to get to do a job that lets me pursue my interests – my job never feels like work.
When do you feel most creative?
I feel most creative when we are getting ready to work on our latest collection. We travel around the world visiting inspiring locations and also visit the wealth of galleries available in London. We then come together to discuss what we’ve found, determine key colour palettes and silhouettes and start work on the individual designs. It’s so inspiring to see the creative process through from start to finish.
What is your favourite thing to do in you offline mode?
Spending time with my family, running and reading. I love horse riding and have recently got back into it.
When do you get most anxious?
We begin the design process for each new season 18 months out, and in many ways it is one of the busiest and most challenging times of the year (but also the most satisfying). After the design team have decided on the overall themes for the coming season, three sample fittings are held in order to ensure the production of well fitted, high quality collections each season – quality and attention to detail is paramount. The whole process is very collaborative, which ensures every element is considered and in-line with our values.
What part does social media play in relation with your audience? What Instagram account do you check on regular basis?
We live in a very digital era, I personally don’t have an Instagram account but know that there is a growing network of influencers, documenting their daily lives through social media and informing a wider audience about the way we shop. At COS, our biggest source of inspiration and therefore our communication comes from the art and design world and we are very proud of our collaborations with Artists and Designers. Most recently we collaborated with London based duo Studio Swine on an installation at the Salone del Mobile in Milan.
Do you think invention is still possible in fashion?
Definitely. Throughout the years, we have been lucky to encounter different artists, designers and pieces of architecture from around the world that create new design opportunities each season. I suppose you could say these influences keep redefining all of our collections and creative outputs. We also love to support (and in turn are inspired by young emerging artists and designers). Most recently we have worked with Nina Band and currently are working with the design graduate Olivier Van Herpt, who makes beautiful, 3D printed vases.
COS X Studio Swine installation – Salone del Mobile Milan – 2017
Interview: Cristina Pavelescu
Article published in Celsius No.2 – 2017