Four-button cuffs, horizontal fastenings, signature stitching… COS tailoring has been different from day one. Head of menswear Christophe Copin and pattern cutter Tibor Rohaly discuss the team’s unique approach.
The jackets are constructed using canvas inside for a comfortable, personal fit.
Since the launch of the first tailoring collection in 2008, the COS design team have been perfecting every stitch, seam and cut in their London atelier – and developing a few signature surprises along the way too. ‘We have a traditional approach to our tailoring design, just like what you’d find at the tailors of Saville Row,’ explains COS head of menswear Christophe Copin. ‘The jackets, for example are constructed using canvas inside – which is very traditional and more expensive to make, but results in a much more comfortable and personalised fit.’
Due to the time and attention it requires, it’s rare for a contemporary brand to tailor like this – just one of the many ways COS is disrupting luxury fashion. ‘It’s the close collaboration between designers, pattern cutters and buyers all under one roof, which means we can achieve the highest quality and offer it at a more affordable price,’ says Christophe. ‘There are lots of discussions, learnings… it’s a journey to get it right.’
INSPIRATION: FROM ART TO ARCHITECTURE
The starting point for all COS collections is art and design – and its tailoring is no exception. From a blazer inspired by the architectural lines of the Bauhaus movement to shirts with abstract hand-painted prints, these subtle influences form the identity of the brand’s tailoring.
‘We’re always referencing architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer,’ says Christophe. ‘When you look at their work, it still feels as modern and relevant today as it did when it was created. We want to achieve the same with our tailoring: designs that are functional but with a graphic appeal that will stand the test of time.’
FABRIC: BEHIND THE SEAMS
So, what makes a COS suit today? The brand’s tailoring approach has evolved based on the customer needs, style and the shift towards sustainability. ‘We want to disrupt the tradition,’ says Tibor Rohaly, experienced tailor and pattern cutter for COS menswear, ‘while at the same time ensuring each piece is remains practical – offering a unique fit and a high-quality finish.’
To achieve the best results, one of the main focuses is on fabric. Depending on the season, these will differ in quality, structure and composition. However, one thing stays consistent: Each material is sourced from European mills with a reputation for producing the highest-quality yarns. ‘The fabric choice is key,’ Christophe explains. ‘There’s no hiding from the fact that if we use cheap materials, we won’t get the high standards we want.’
A sustainable approach to design has always been rooted at the core of COS, and the team continue to push the boundaries with their tailoring. ‘We’ve been developing circular ways to produce fabrics,’ says Christophe. ‘The waste from wool cuttings is now repurposed and used to create new garments.’ The designers have also been experimenting with using alternative fabrics. At the start of the season, the team introduced a suit made from recycled nylon – a technical fabric normally used for outdoor pieces. And you can sense their determination to innovate; in the words of Christophe: ‘It turned out amazingly!’
DESIGN: IT’S ALL IN THE DETAIL
When it comes to the quirk that makes a suit stand out, the COS design team are experts. A closer look reveals a series of signature details that feature on each piece, without fail, season after season. ‘These details are important, but they are not just for decorative purposes,’ Christophe notes. ‘They must be useful.’ Here, he explains why…
THE FOUR-BUTTONED BLAZER CUFFS
‘We added an extra button for two reasons: you can open up the bottom hole and use it or shorten the length of your sleeves without any issue. If the last button is fixed, you can’t do this. This gives the wearer more freedom to create a more personalised fit.’
THE SIGNATURE TROUSER STITCHING
‘Our waist fastening and pockets are reinforced with bar tacks – a type of topstitch. This is to strengthen them, but it also adds a neat graphic touch to the appearance of the trouser.’
THE FUTURE: TAILORED TO LAST
But COS has an experimental side too. And that’s where design details are intended to be slightly more subversive: ‘Every person knows what to expect from a suit: the lapels, the cuff button… it’s like a code,’ says Christophe. ‘So, it’s interesting to play with these and distort traditional concepts. This season, we used a cargo-style pocket on suit trousers which gave then more of a casual look without feeling too out of place.’
‘The world is evolving now more than ever, and people are searching for different kinds of tailoring,’ says Tibor. ‘The current adjustments to working life are affecting how it’s worn, which means our designs must adapt too.’ Though we can expect COS to continue to push the boundaries of the traditional suit, a unique bespoke-style approach and dedication to high-quality design will always be rooted at its core. Meaning that – whatever your style, whoever you are – with a COS suit, you can expect tailoring that stands the test of time.
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