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Minimalist Fashion Brand COS Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Minimal Aesthetic, Maximum Effect
Courtesy of COS

Exploring the past and future of the "modern and timeless" label.

In the decade since its launch, the minimalist brand COS has transformed from an industry secret into a global powerhouse, with nearly 200 outlets in 32 countries. One of its biggest draws is its chic, unfussy stores, which abandon the throbbing music and teeming shelves of its parent company, H&M, making shopping for clothes a distinctly grown-up affair.

"It's modern and it's timeless," says creative director Karin Gustafsson, who joined COS at its inception, shortly after she graduated from the Royal College of Art in London. "In everything we do, we see the functional aspect. If we do a little black dress, we add a pocket. We want the customer to feel they can find something for any occasion."

Today, the cornerstone of COS is innovation, continuous reworking and reinventing of closet staples (though a white shirt remains the starting point for every collection). "We build the wardrobe in a different way," Gustafsson says. "We look towards art and architecture and design for inspiration." This is quite clear upon inspecting the clean lines of a box-cut wool jumper with a square neck hole. Bonus: The piece is machine-washable.


COS's knack for providing intriguing silhouettes with playful proportions, all without breaking the bank, is what first caught the attention of its current menswear designer, Martin Andersson. After graduating from Central Saint Martins in London, Andersson designed for Hackett London, known for its polos, before a brief stint at luxury brand Aquascutum. "I would walk past this new store, COS, and very quickly became a customer," he says. "It was everything I wanted to wear, and the price was great." A year later, he was asked to come on board. It was a no-brainer.

Though Andersson's menswear is slightly more tailored than COS's womenswear, it still offers the relaxed forms with which the brand is synonymous. Pair one of his blue suits with a white tee and sneakers, and you'll look as comfortable at the wine bar as you do in the boardroom.

For its 10th anniversary, COS has developed a special capsule collection, to be unveiled later this year. It will serve as both a retrospective of what it has accomplished and an indicator of how it will move forward. If it continues to make men's trousers the way it does, no doubt COS can look forward to celebrating another 10, 20, 30 years -- modestly, of course.

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