A strong DNA

Branding has never been more important and for COS it’s all about the details. Everything from typography to the choice of fabrics, from window merchandising to event collaborations—nothing is left to chance. The brand has had a clear and strong profile from the very beginning, and their Creative Director, Karin Gustafsson, thinks it’s this particular DNA that has taken COS to where it is today. With a clear expression, they are inspired by architecture, music, design and art—something that is conveyed in more than just simple cuts and rich materials. For nearly ten years, COS has collaborated with talented creatives in the world of architecture, music, design and art. It’s here they meet their costumers, Karin says. But most importantly, it’s in the collaborations they gather inspiration. After all, it’s when two disciplines come together to create something unique that magic truly occurs. 

Please tell me how your collaborations came about.
It happened very naturally, since it’s in these landscapes we draw inspiration. We’ve collaborated with artists, architects and designers since the very beginning. Our customers have many of the same interests as us, so it has been a good way to meet and communicate with them. It’s a way of showing our interests and source of inspiration.

It sounds like a great way to communicate what COS is all about?
Yes, definitely. But it’s mostly about the fact that we find collaborating with other creatives great fun and truly inspiring. I’m really thankful for the possibility to meet all these brilliant people. We were in Milan a fortnight ago, where we did an exhibition together with Sou Fujimoto, an architect we’ve been inspired by many times. It was a great honor to meet him, to hear him talk about his work and to share this experience with our customers.

Are cross-creative collaborations something you’d recommend other brands? 
I think the most important thing is to be true to yourself and your brand, to figure out what you find interesting and genuine. We were lucky enough to discover our DNA at an early stage, everything fell into place very quick.

With that said, something magical can happen when you collaborate with others. When we collaborate, we never interfere or dictate—we have a meeting where we share our values, our inspirations, our DNA and brand, then the artist gets an open canvas. We are not artists. For us its more about being able to work with amazing creatives in completely different fields. We just love to meet, work with and learn from them.

By being inspired by architecture, art and music—how does this influence your collections? 
For us it’s about timeless fashion. We focus greatly on this, as well as on being contemporary and functional. Some things do change from season to season, but we never make wholesale changes. We find new inspiration all the time, which often leads to a natural expression for the collection. 

Who’s your favourite architect? 
There are so many! But there is an English architect called John Winter, who is no longer with us, he created many houses during the 60s in LA. He drew his own home in London and I mean, it’s definitely a house I would love to live in!

Do you have someone special you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
There are so many I would like to work with! I really look forward to next week, where we have a collaboration at Gallery Weekend in Berlin. We’ve worked with a very young artists, Michael Sailstorfer. I really enjoy his work and can’t wait to see the result. The project is about process, it’s something that never can be replicated after. It’s a little bit about demolition, but in a soft and poetic way. 

You just did a collaboration with Market Art Fair in Stockholm. Tell me more.
We created the social meeting space accompanying the art fair, where we wanted people to hang out and relax. We also displayed different white T-shirts from the Spring Summer collection, sold in another format. The installation was designed by the in-house architects and I think they did a really good job. It was very functional. The hanging rail had the shape that we drew inspiration from for the summer collection.

Why did you decide to display white t-shirts? 
It’s a huge part of our collection this summer. A white t-shirt is understated and basic. We’ve worked with the same garment, but in many different tones. I love taking one garment and reworking it or sort of deconstructing it. It felt very interesting. Also, the white t-shirt sort of represents us as a brand. It’s the most clean and basic essential.