COS exhibition Seoul Snarkitecture


Simplicity probably isn’t a trait you would associate with the fashion industry – especially not when it comes to brand values, and the click-bait commercialism it holds hands with. COS is one label trying to combat this though, through an always-refined offering, that has tightly retained identity and ethos over the last ten years. Today, this approach stands unwavering.

Influencer outreach has eclipsed the creative industry, and a society fuelled by self-indulgences has shifted conventions in the fashion world. This means, the same faces don the covers of the leading magazines and walk in the most coveted shows during fashion week. Unlike others, COS is a brand committed to its founding principle, undeterred by the influencer culture that takes a firm grasp on the industry of which it is a part. Such strength of image and identity is rare, and has enabled the brand to develop a cultish following of likeminded clientele. Their style is effortlessly minimalist, and their interests oscillate within the realms of architecture, art, and literature. This aesthetic is crafted by a team of creative minds, directed by Karin Gustafsson who tells us: “We believe that our customer shares our interests in the arts, and COS is an opportunity to give something back to the design community, while sharing creative collaboration with our customers.”

COS Snarkitecture

COS curate a lifestyle that extends far beyond the wardrobe. It is about buying into a lifestyle and appreciating shared values, rather than one-dimensional products. Taking cues from architecture, art, music and photography, COS’s team of designers create collections based on all of these points of interest. And, these values found physical translation through “Loop”, COS’s most recent installation.

Born out of a creative merger with New-York-based design studio Snarkitecture, the exhibition was held at Gana Art Centre in Seoul, South Korea. It saw 100,000 glass marbles travel in a caterpillar-like structure through stark white space before emerging through the wall on the other side with a precision-engineered. The installation captures the interdisciplinary nature of Snarkitecture’s practice across art, design and architecture. Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen of Snarkitecture describe the collaboration: “The installation merges the technical sensibility of the latest COS collection with Snarkitecture’s approach to create a playful and interactive environment.”

COS Snarkitecture

The Snarkitecture x COS collaboration plays with precision and chance as pivotal points in the creative process. Described by Karin Gustafsson as “a journey that begins with a strong aesthetic direction but is lead astray by new sources of inspiration arising out of research and experience.” Gustafsson continues: “In this way, the creative process stays fluid and we hope to produce pieces that are typical for COS – timeless classics reinvented with a fresh, modern twist.”

COS Snarkitecture

In 2018, COS will revisit their relationship with Studio Swine to reinvent the blossoming sculpture. The Miami edition of this installation will be reconceived to a monumental scale, in a bright environment flooded with light, and nestled within a historic art-deco building. This project grew out of an open brief issued by COS to illustrate the interdisciplinary sensibility of the studio — versatility seemingly being the thematic seed sown through all collaborations.

The design process at COS shares the same essence of refinement that meanders right the way through the brand ethos. The label’s creative director Gustafsson encourages her team to derive inspiration from all corners of the globe, as they escape on team trips to the galleries that surround their office, and the architecture towering above their workplace. Exploration is followed by a wealth of discussion, which helps to determine key colour palettes and silhouettes before making a start on the individual designs. COS transform simple shapes into timeless classics, creating collections that are understated in comparison to the grotesquely glittering offerings of other affordable, trend-chasing brands. Gustafsson efficaciously describes their clean style as understated rather than overly detailed, functional rather than overly embellished and timeless rather than seasonal. They are one of very few brands bridging the gap between fashion and high-street, shedding the extortionate expense of high fashion that is inaccessible to so many, and averting the disposability of fast fashion.

COS Snarkitecture

Portrait photograph by Daliah Spiegel

Taken from Material Magazine No 33, “Women Who Create” – get your issue here.