MR PORTER x COS, an interview with Martin Andersson
We all know and love MR PORTER; they bring us the best in menswear from around the world.
Around the period when COS has finally landed in Australia and is making its way through the popularity ranks, MR PORTER has partnered with the Swedish design brand thanks in large part to the great reception of the game, but its easy, seamless practicality with which men can wear everything they pump out.
We’re lucky enough to have some words from the head designer at COS, a Mr. Martin Andersson whose knack for his work and knowledge of the industry is inspiring and exciting.
Tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to where you are today?
I wanted to be a designer from a young age. While growing up in Sweden, I admired the designs I saw on the pages of FACE and i-D Magazine. With the help of my mother, a dressmaker, I experimented with creating my own designs, eventually going on to develop my skills at Central Saint Martins in London.
When creating the COS collections, is there a specific design philosophy you follow?
The COS brand ethos is to create modern, timeless, tactile and functional collections which are designed to last beyond the season and are crafted with the use of innovative fabrics and techniques.
Most designers have a particular facet to their clothes, which is identifiable as unique to that brand – what is specific to COS?
I don’t know if there is one particular facet, however I do believe that form follows function which leads to timeless design; I hope that our designs are reflective of this. When designing, no matter what the inspiration is for the season, quality and attention to detail is paramount. From the functional placement of a pocket and the seam allowance on a pair of tailored trousers to the fabrics used, all elements are considered with the customer’s needs in mind.
This is the first time COS has collaborated with another fashion brand. What drew you to this collaboration with MR PORTER?
In addition to sharing similar brand values, we feel that MR PORTER is a pioneer in your area of expertise. In this contemporary setting of the “information age” you continue to lead in adapting the latest technology for your business needs ultimately granting global availability, information sharing and pioneering design-led fashion.
What were your influences for the MR PORTER exclusive capsule collection?
When we begin to work on the seasonal collections we often start by looking at the overall themes we will focus on for the season. We travel and visit exhibitions, constantly researching and looking to the world of art and design for inspiration. Once we have defined our inspirations we break these into trends and then begin to work on garment designs, colour groups, fabrics, fittings and so forth. For the MR PORTER collection we were very much inspired by the idea of the “modern traveller” and wanted to create a collection that reinterprets function for every occasion – a collection where the tailored suit can take you from a business meeting in NYC to an art gallery opening in the evening and then swiftly changed for a pair of shorts for a casual weekend lunch.
What sets this collection apart from your mainline offering?
When designing this collection the creative team and I wanted to reinvent timeless wardrobe pieces for the modern traveller. We then took the core ethos of our design philosophy and, by making subtle tweaks to the fits and functional details of items, created an exclusive collection with MR PORTER’s customer in mind. For this collection we also included a new print and new colourways to ensure that it was fresh and modern while remaining timeless.
Why partner with MR PORTER, what can we add to your current retail strategy?
We are very excited to be partnering with MR PORTER. It is important for us to partner with parties we feel are aligned with us, and who share a similar ethos. What we like about MR PORTER is its ability in offering a contemporary yet timeless wardrobe for the modern man; a quality, which, at COS, we instil in our designs. In addition, MR PORTER allows us the opportunity to be available to global customers, particularly in locations where we may not currently have stores.
Do you see similarities between COS and MR PORTER? What is it that makes this collaboration a good fit?
At COS every element – from the creation of the collections, to the interior design of our stores, to our window displays, and the features on our website – is considered toward the overall brand experience which is a similarity we feel we share with MR PORTER, whose packaging and service provides an extension of the site. I am also a big believer in dressing for your personality and being comfortable and confident with who you are. This is what we always start to build our collection on: updated basic pieces and re-invented classics, like the white shirt, blazer or perfect sweatshirt. This is something MR PORTER allows for, too.
What are the challenges when designing for men?
I find that men generally have an expectation for high quality and attention to detail yet wish for garments to be untricky and simple. Often simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve, however this challenge is what makes it so interesting and fun!
Do you have any other hidden talents?
I come from a tailoring background and I have a very keen interest in the craftsmanship of traditional tailoring techniques and the reinterpretation of this to fit into a contemporary setting. Also (while not necessarily a talent), I have a huge interest in mid-century functionalist architecture and the Bauhaus, which we constantly look towards for inspiration.
Do you shop online? If so, what do you buy?
Of course. I am often browsing for vintage furniture or records online – I used to trawl through the flea markets for these finds. Recently, I bought some ceramics and I often buy shoes from MR PORTER.