Fashion: Nicole Bischofer
Nicole Bischofer and I am head of womenswear at COS.
Where are you based?
In our global head office in London, where we have our design team, interior architects and pattern cutters. London is such a vibrant city with an abundance of inspiration from galleries and museums to the mix of architecture.
What do you do in a typical day?
My day varies according to the time of year. I work closely with the design team on developing new shapes, colour palettes and outlining the direction of the next collection. We work on a new season collection around six months in advance, so one day we might be looking at what has inspired us, another day could involve working with pattern cutting to develop a new technique using an innovative fabric.
What is your training/background?
In my teenage years in Sweden I became very interested in bespoke tailoring and incorporating traditional menswear elements into womenswear design. After completing a course in fashion illustration in Gothenburg, I moved to London to complete a degree in Fashion Design at Ravensbourne college. After my studies I joined COS.
What are your inspirations?
Looking at the world of art and design. Having lived in different cities the abundance of world renowned galleries and architecture inspires me to create new and interesting shapes with the garments. Our latest collaboration with Snarkitecture at the Gana Art Centre in Seoul was a hugely inspiring exhibition.
Who has influenced your style?
In my eyes, the German photographer Marianne Breslauer had a style unlike any other, not only through her personal look but her work. The way she photographed women created a balance between femininity and masculinity.
What’s different about your designs and COS products?
I have a strong interest in tailoring and translating traditional masculine shapes on to a feminine silhouette which can be seen in the collection but is still very much aligned with the COS aesthetic.
Where are COS products made?
COS does not own factories. Collections are produced by approximately 60 independent suppliers with 60 per cent of production in Europe and 40 per cent in Asia.
What challenges have you faced in your work?
As the brand has grown into new markets, looking at how climates vary and the seasons differ means creating collections which work for the global customer.
What was the biggest surprise along the way?
After I left to work in Paris for four years, I didn’t expect that I would return as head of womenswear at COS. It was always a dream of mine but when it becomes a reality, it surprises you.
What is the fun part of working at COS?
Getting to work with so many creative people means possibilities as an individual but also as a team. That makes it a very free-flowing creative environment and that’s the fun part.
How has it evolved?
Since launching the brand has inevitably evolved, but the essence of COS has remained unchanged – timeless, modern, tactile and functional design. We hope and believe that everything we do incorporates these elements.
What is the most popular design?
I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint a design in particular, but the reception from our customers is always super positive. You will often have customers coming back each year to purchase wardrobe staples like the same cashmere jumper and it is perhaps that sense of timelessness that explains why COS has grown so much over the past decade.
Who is the COS customer?
We do not think of a specific man or woman, more a group of friends, people sharing likes and aesthetics but with individual tastes and takes on fashion. What they share is their sense of style, confidence and personality. They all have busy lifestyles and are interested in current issues – cultural as well as financial and political, and of course, fashion. This group of friends tend to be confident, style conscious, well-travelled and have a big-city mindset. They also appreciate exceptional quality and value in every element of their lives.
Which COS items do you have at home and which are your favourites?
When it comes to this time of year I will always gravitate towards our knitwear and our navy tailored coat which we do each autumn winter. Those layers that are versatile and modern.
What’s your style philosophy?
Always have good staple pieces in your wardrobe that can be highlighted with an accessory that throws off the total look a bit. I often treat my wardrobe like a uniform, based on the pieces that I know are timeless.