As the Head of Menswear Design for COS, we can’t help but admire the sartorial direction the brand has taken. And if we’re going to point fingers, the direction in which we’re looking is towards Martin Andersson, the individual responsible for COS’ impeccable menswear perspective. Here, he walks us through his interpretation of “Collection of Style.”
Life+Times: COS, which stands for Collection of Style, has taken on quite a global reputation – having launched in London. What does that epitomize?
Martin Andersson: We hope that COS’s style epitomizes a timeless and classic aesthetic. This is reconfirmed through ensuring that garments last beyond the season where we aspire to making our customers feel they are purchasing items they can wear for many years to come. For COS, price point and quality are also quintessential areas of importance.
L+T: How do you define the COS aesthetic, as its quite unique but incredibly functional?
MA: A core element of our style is to ensure we always consider functionality – when designing we think our customers should be able to use our garments in the best and most comfortable way. Modernity is another important design element for COS, whether through our inspiration of current artists or designers or the techniques and fabrications we use to create our garments.
L+T: You’re the head of menswear design, a role that you’ve occupied since 2008. What is your day-to-day like?
MA: A regular day at the COS Head Office in London is spent working closely with both Karin Gustaffson (Head of Womenswear Design) and the Menswear team, comprised of; designers, pattern cutters and buyers. At the start of the creative process for each season, around 18 months before the collection launches in-store, I sit with the design teams to discuss our feelings for the direction of the collection – defining our inspirations and beginning to work on the individual garment design, color and fabrication. Later in the process I work together with the buyers to research our best production options and review the garments fit, style and fabric numerous times in order to successfully achieve the creative vision. At COS it really is a team effort; everyone has different expertise that we bring together to create the best collection possible for our customers.
L+T: What is the mission behind the COS aesthetic? With each garment you create, what are you trying to achieve?
MA: At COS, we pay a lot of attention to crafting a high quality product and always look into ways in which we can be innovative; whether these principles are applied to technological fabrications and designs of our collections or the way in which we design our stores.
L+T: Currently only in Europe, New Yorkers are anticipating the arrival of your first stateside store in the upcoming months. How do you think the brand will be perceived stateside?
MA: We all love New York and are super excited about our launch in such a vibrant and exciting city. We hope our customers in New York will like the brand and collection they find in our store. We believe that our collection offers customers a timeless, modern range available at a comparably affordable price.
L+T: When it comes to overarching themes in your designs, are there any consistent ideas that continue to appear in your collections?
MA: Each season at COS, we re-visit and re-invent our classic pieces in order to add a subtle design edge to the already functional and versatile garment. A strong example of this in the Spring Summer 2014 Menswear collection is the classic white cotton shirt. This season we have reduced the garment it to its simplest state; a collared tunic with hidden buttons at the shoulder. This super minimal re-design of the shirt ensures that it remains understated rather than showy, functional rather than frou-frou and timeless, rather than seasonal.
L+T: When it comes to your personal aesthetic, what do you wear on a daily basis? What are some of your favorite brands?
MA: My wardrobe is mostly comprised of black and white. I like to dress-down formal tailoring pieces with t-shirts and slip-on sneakers or a pair of boots or alternatively dress-up a pair of beaten up denims with dress shoes and a crisp white shirt. I buy a lot of military surplus; parkas and bomber jackets and otherwise I tend to buy classic brands with a modern twist.
L+T: What are you currently working on? What can we expect from the upcoming collection?
MA: Karin and I are currently working on identifying and collating the sources of inspiration that will come together to create COS’ Spring Summer 2015 collection. As a brand we tend not to look to the traditional sense of “trends” but instead look towards the world of art and design for inspiration. We have been traveling and visiting international galleries exhibiting both the work of established, as well as up and coming artists, photographers, designers and architects. For the upcoming Spring Summer 2014 collection, we looked to Philipp Schaerer’s “Manipulated Architecture,” the “Peel Wall Lamp” by Design Studio Yoy and Ole Scheeren’s Archipelago Cinema in the Nai Pi Lae Lagoon, amongst others. Combined, these inspirations fashioned a collection that it is playful in its construction with a youthful air, featuring garments with bold shapes and soft colors.
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