The H&M-owned Swedish fashion label COS is making its runway debut at New York Fashion Week today. It is slated to show a see-now, buy-now collection in for the autumn/winter season. Its creative director Karin Gustaffson has decided to bring the show to New York to celebrate the multifaceted creative sectors of the city, be it art, cinema or music.
Ahead of the show, Karin answers some questions on her design approach, what the fashion industry needs more of and her definition of style.
What are the challenges of designing a see-now buy-now collection as opposed to showing a season ahead?
The design process is always the same, no matter the season. COS pieces are designed to be timeless, however, our customers still require garments tailored to the summer and winter months – pieces that offer different functionalities. Our in-season collection allows for immediate engagement, the collections can be explored in store and online instantly, something we feel our audience appreciates.
Is this an approach that you hope to continue going forward?
Our garments truly come to life on the body and in motion. Having received positive feedback from our AW21 show at London Fashion Week, we are excited to show at NYFW for the first time with the CFDA. For now, our focus is on the NYC show, but we plan to continue to present our collections in creative and experimental ways in the coming seasons.
To what do you attribute your success at COS?
At COS we are constantly inspired by the world around us and the creative community, keeping close to these inspirations allows us to move with the times and design for the now. We create elevated wardrobe pieces – designing with innovation and individuals in mind, working with sustainable new materials or mood boosting colours.
Sustainability keeps getting thrown around in the fashion industry, how does COS makes sure that it is not just a lip service but a true commitment?
Designing with circularity at the forefront is key to achieving our sustainability goals. At COS, we believe in investing now to design for the future, and our Design, Buying, Architecture and Interior teams are continuously sourcing, and trialling new and more sustainable alternatives. We are always learning and evolving to identify the best materials to then adapt our collections.
As it stands, our cashmere knitwear is either GCS-certified or made from recycled fibres, and this autumn, we present an un-dyed cashmere created with a completely natural colouration process. We also feature Desserto, a biomaterial that comes from cactus plants, 100% recycled sequins, and worked with Italian textile innovators, Manteco, who repurposed COS’ wool cuttings to further reduce waste.
Why do you think COS resonates with so many people?
We believe that people who wear COS have a shared aesthetic sensibility, and that inspires and intrigues us as a brand. They share a sense of style, confidence and personality and are appreciative of quality and enduring style. Our timeless pieces allow our customers to create a capsule wardrobe they know works for their own taste, but they are also encouraged to express their individuality it can also be bold, colourful, and versatile.
What are the highlights of this AW22 collection?
Our womenswear utility-inspired, oversized coats in light green and steel blue are standout pieces this season, as are our tailored suits, paired with exaggerated accessories in mood boosting hues. A beautiful tweed coat in menswear is another personal favourite – it pairs perfectly with our textured knitwear, while un-dyed cashmere is also presented for the first time. Alongside this, occasion-wear pieces made with recycled sequins and a coin shaped collage evening dress further elevate the collection.
What would you like to see more from/in the fashion industry?
We see a future that will hold a lot of new and interesting innovations – a time that delivers fashion that is better for the future. Sustainability is of course top of mind for us all as creatives, but I also think the future for us will be focused on how we can empower and uplift our community. We all have a responsibility to consume fashion and materials in a way that is better for the future and planet.
What is your definition of style?
To me, style is something that is unique to every person – not totally dependent on one thing; it can be related to art, design, or clothing. Style is timeless, it does not change in the same way fashion does, it’s created with the pieces in your wardrobe that you unpack each autumn and joyously rediscover – loved cashmere sweaters or a scarf that pulls an outfit together. At COS, we craft our staples with style and function in mind – pieces that will go with everything else in the wearers wardrobe but still allow full individual expression.