Karin Gustafsson is the creative head of Cos, the famous swedish brand located in the well known high street in London.
The Cos aesthetic is modern and minimal but timeless at the same time,’ says Karin, the 38-year-old head of design for womenswear. Gustafsson oversees a team of 12 that works 18 months in advance, the same as a high-end fashion house. ‘We say that the Cos woman has a big-city mind, not because she lives in a big city but because she has that type of lifestyle where she travels and has an interest in design and art. We don’t think of age when we design. It just happens that our pieces are classic and work on women of 18 or 80.’
Autumn/Winter 2012 Collection
FS: What were the team’s inspirations for the AW12 collection?
For this autumn/winter 2012, we looked closely at the perfect precision of minimal design and the perfect colours of nature. The collection is a refinement and reinvention of the COS style, with clean and futuristic shapes, layered looks, and optimistic colours.
FS: This collection was all about refinement and reinvention of COS. How so?
For autumn/winter we wanted to present an ultra-minimal look with clean lines and garments that had an element of surface interest with features such as coated knitwear. We moved slightly away from prints and the bright bold colours you have seen in store over the summer to create a chic and clean silhouette.
FS: What are some of the key womenswear pieces that the design team focused on this season?
One of my favorite pieces for the autumn winter is the soft grey coat with the layered fastening; it is a subtle twist on the style which keeps the lines on the coat very clean by removing the fastenings from view.
We have also developed a Moleskin A-line skirt which feels extremely minimal, by moving all seams to the back it gives a great line on the body.
Finally we really felt for winter white this season creating a v-neck full needle stitch sweater that has sheer sleeves to give it a hint of feminity.
Interview with Karin Gustafsson
FS: Who is the COS customer? And how do you keep them in mind during the design process?
We think the COS woman is someone thoroughly modern, confident and stylish. She knows what suits her and chooses style over faddish trends. She favours’ functionality, comfort and quality over decoration and appreciates well designed clothes as well as furniture and objects, recognising the quality in the making and fabrics.
The whole design team embody the ethos of COS so in many ways it is simply like designing for your colleagues! We also like to get out into the stores regularly to see who is shopping.
FS: Why was it so important for the brand to go through this time of reinvention?
We reinvent timeless pieces season after season, putting a new twist on the white shirt or little black dress for example. We want customers to know they can rely on us for the perfect basics but also that you can still find unexpected design twists to our garments.
FS: COS is all about covetable pieces with minimal design. Is it ever challenging to design simple, covetable and classic pieces? Why or why not?
With every style we always keep in mind that it should embody our brand principals of being timeless, functional, tactile and modern. In some ways it is not difficult at all to design like this; it is our aesthetic so tends to come quite naturally to the whole team. But in other ways every design is a challenge, it is an extremely long journey from design to the store and in some cases you may work very hard on a specific garment for it not to work out due to fabrication or fit, it can be quite frustrating!
FS: COS is currently celebrating their five year anniversary. Congratulations, COS! On this heels of this celebration COS is reissuing five of their most iconic white shirts from the past five years, for both men and women. Can you tell us a little bit more about this celebration?
At COS we see the white shirt as a wardrobe staple and therefore include them in every collection. Spring/summer 2012 is a little different for us as we have re-released 5 limited edition ‘classic COS shirts’ to celebrate our fifth birthday. The key designs include a tuxedo style shirt with a bib front, a menswear inspired crisp classic shirt and a circle cut cotton voile design.
The white shirt is a reliable item, if you get the right fit and fabric it can last for years. Perhaps the recession has brought out a desire for items that can last beyond a season and yet still allow women to feel sophisticated and current.
By: Itziar Arriola H.