COS' Christophe Copin Is the Right Man In the Age of Constantly-Evolving Menswear
The COS craze may seem, well, a bit crazed to the uninformed eye. After all, it's only upon closer inspection that you'll find that the London-based clothing brand's classics and wardrobe essentials differ from others when it comes to fit, construction, design, and material. Then there's the unmistakable distinct Scandinavian-inspired minimalism.
Head of menswear design at COS Christophe Copin puts it best when he describes the brand's overall design philosophy: "We are inspired by contemporary culture and create for collections that balance innovative design with enduring style, with every piece made to last beyond the season." But, what else does one need to know before stepping foot in COS' first store in Manila?
We spoke with Copin to learn more about COS' newest outpost, dressing (appropriately) for the weather, and post-pandemic plans, among other things.
Hello Christophe, could you tell us about your role at COS?
I joined COS in 2017 as head of menswear design. In my role, I lead the development of the menswear collections across clothing, footwear, and accessories while working collaboratively with our buying and production teams.
Could you tell us about your sources of inspiration? Has it changed during lockdown? And how does it link to the collection?
I take inspiration from design, the arts, and contemporary culture. Music is really important to me, and I love to design whilst listening to Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Alt-J, Massive Attack. Architecture has always been a big influence and I first studied architecture in a school in France before changing paths to fashion design. I think all of these inspirations shape my creative process today. For example, architecture can inspire the construction of the garments, such as the way pattern is created, how each seam is finished or how the stitches hold a piece together. During the last year, I have continued to find inspiration through reading, researching online, but I am looking forward to traveling again to seek new sources.
What kind of design would you suggest to Filipino customers who are new to the brand?
I prefer not to set rules for how people should dress, which is disappointing to hear for some! At COS, we certainly have a clear aesthetic, but we really want to focus on encouraging people to dress in any way that makes them feel great. That being said, there are always core pieces that are part of our collection and create a wardrobe. With each collection, we reinvent the classic styles and introduce new forms with new design details. This season, I would also highlight the double-breasted bonded linen trench coat, as well as the deconstructed blazer.
Where do you feel fashion is headed post-pandemic, when everyone's free to resume 'normal life'?
I think that is impossible to say! But, I would imagine that people will want to bring some of the ease and comfort of loungewear into their everyday dressing, incorporating oversized silhouettes, light fabrics, and layers into their daily wardrobe. On the other hand, I think so many people are looking forward to going out and dressing up, embracing tailoring and crisp shirting, more structured styles and materials.
In terms of design, what are your priorities for COS menswear? What are the qualities that every piece of COS menswear should embody?
My priority for the menswear collection is that customers are able to build a wardrobe encompassing core essentials and style foundations, as well as seasonal accent pieces. Looking to the COS menswear spring-summer collection, a streetwear or skate influence runs throughout the collection, and the color palette has a strong neutral base for tonal dressing, as well bright and graphic highlights. If I were to pick one quality that every piece should embody, it would be designed and made to last.
What do you think of the current state of menswear and what is COS doing to change that or have a presence in that?
I think it is an exciting time of innovation in the fashion industry, as we all striving to create collections in a more sustainable way. There are some interesting approaches with material innovation: re-use, repair, and rental models as well designing for multi-functionality.
How would you see COS as a brand from a designer perspective?
We have an incredible level of attention to detail, especially in the way we develop and construct the collection, from pattern to the final garment. Silhouette is key and we like to play with volume to create unexpected forms. As a brand, we are constantly evolving whilst staying true to our core design values.
What are some of the best pieces of styling advice you have given to date? Can you share this with our readers?
I don’t want to be too strict with styling advice, but I would always suggest that the wearer tries on pieces in different sizes—and not be too strict in their approach—to explore new silhouettes and find new fits that work for them, and to pair it with core pieces as it is the wardrobe foundation!
As sustainability becomes key, how has this shaped your designs? What are some of your favorite 'experiments' to date?
As a designer, we incorporate sustainability into the way we design and construct collections, as well as the material choices. Sustainability is part of our design ethos, as we want to create collections that have enduring style that our customers will appreciate for a long time. There are so many innovations happening right now in the industry, as we are all experimenting and trialling new ways to drive forward greater sustainability. If I were to highlight one it would be material innovation. There are some interesting fabrics being developed, everything from material made from food waste or rubber made from algae. For this season we have been able to source Bloom foam, which is partly made from algae biomass, for soles of menswear sandals. We’ve also used denim made from pre and post-consumer waste.
COS pieces are designed to go beyond the seasons, which is perfect for the Philippines since we only have two—dry and wet seasons. What pieces are essential to beat the heat, in style?
Light fabrics and loose silhouettes and good for the heat. Wide-legged trousers or classic drawstring shorts, with light layered pieces, like a tee or a shirt, are my choice to create a relaxed dress sense in the summer. Contrasting colours also inject positivity and vibrance to summer styling, and our coming season incorporates inverted colourways and graphical stripes. You could accessorize with a classic baseball cap or bucket hat, we have interpreted these hats in technical fabrics like mesh and textured weaved straw.