The London-based high street fashion brand, built with innovative design and enduring qualities, is now open at SM Aura
It’s bittersweet that COS (Collection of Style), the London-based fashion brand, is now in Manila.
When I was working in fashion magazines, it was an editors’ secret, especially around 2010 or soon after it opened in London in 2007, when it had branched out of the UK and it was the store the editors would have inserted in their packed itineraries whenever in Europe on assignment or on vacation. It was at that time—as it still is now—one of the hottest brands on the high street.
But even before the secret was out, COS had really all been about easy access. Embedded deep in its DNA is the idea of timelessness, durability, and functionality. When it was conceptualized in 2006, the attributes sought included investment clothing, the opposite of fast fashion, the goal being that each piece, made with innovative design and enduring qualities, would last a long time and could be worn again and again to a variety of occasions and to perform a variety of tasks.
Yet, COS is more than wardrobe staples. It’s not about clothes so generic you can wear them on repeat with no one the wiser. Each piece is designed differently, whether in the cut or the choice of fabric or the way it falls on or drapes the body.
There’s a subtle statement in the way the material feels to the touch or in its proportions or in the tailoring or in the softspoken color scheme or the little touches of art or architecture or film after which every collection is very likely designed. Art is a big deal at COS—“art is well ahead of fashion,” COS creative director Karin Gustaffson once said—so that even a plain white shirt, when it’s COS, is a blank canvas.
The last time I went shopping at COS was in Copenhagen. Around that time I was obsessed with white shirts, whether long-sleeved or short-sleeved, formal or casual, with collar or without, and COS to me in Copenhagen was white shirt heaven. I still have those COS whites in a closet reserved for plain white shirts, although a couple of years ago I suddenly had this thing for color and I’ve since shifted to florals and foliage, geometrics, stripes and plaids, and knits in bold colors.
But anyway, COS is here, in Manila, an emerging hub that, prior to this long-staying pandemic, has been quite the destination for many brands across the world, whether mobile technology, F&B, hospitality, luxury, or fashion. To many, especially those who are into fashion without really knowing they are into fashion, COS is still a secret, even if it is now at least in 197 locations around the world, Manila included.
That’s the bitter in bittersweet. To get your COS fix, no need for Paris, Amsterdam, Liverpool, Prague, Strasbourg, or Milan, no need for Tel Aviv or Marmara, no need for Hong Kong, Bangkok, or Singapore, no need for New York, Boston, Beverly Hills, or Miami. It’s now in Manila. That’s the sweet in bittersweet, especially now that, for many of us, travel has been on hold.
The Manila store is on the upper ground floor of SM Aura Premier in BGC, Taguig. It’s like any COS store I’ve seen, bright and airy and light and minimalist yet warm and congenial, a 380-square-meter space that houses not only the brand’s only-what-matters-as-long-as-it-matters-a-lot aesthetics but also its urgent call for sustainability. The textured cladding material extending across the staggered walls, according to the promotional texts, are constructed of “Really,” an engineered material made of upcycled textiles, such as end-of-life cotton and wool.
I’m a little sad that the men’s collection only occupies a fourth of the entire store, although I was happy to have spotted a knit shirt—not white, but gray-green, not gunmetal but kind of moss before it turned brown. I should have bought it at the preview, but I don’t shop under pressure. Well, anyway, I don’t need to travel across the world to get to a COS now that it’s here.
What debuts at this opening is the brand’s summer 2021 collection of wardrobe icons inspired by the changing of the seasons as a metaphor for the constant renewal of hope. And perfect for its Manila arrival, COS this season embraces warmer weather, versatile enough, even as they stay true to the brand vision of timelessness, to be worn in the city or the countryside or the beaches of the Philippines that are now beginning to open up along with the relaxation of quarantine measures.
The biggest statement COS makes on its arrival to the Philippines, no less essential than our collective understanding that our planet is in peril, is its resolve to limit its impact on the environment.
The collection you will see at the just-opened store at SM Aura is comprised of statement pieces and relaxed essentials, but the biggest statement COS makes on its arrival to the Philippines, no less essential than our collective understanding that our planet is in peril, is its resolve to limit its impact on the environment to the most possible minimum. Durable fabrics like hemp and linen are a dominant choice among the store’s current offerings and many of the other materials are repurposed, such as the nylon recycled into swimwear.
As an introductory gift, a limited-edition repurposed-cotton tote bag will be given away, while stocks last, to customers with purchases of over ₱10,000. Among the recipients of this gift, who were caught shopping on the eve of the opening, were Liz Uy, Camille Co, Tricia Gosingtian, LA Aguinaldo, Karen Davila, and Sofia and Pamela Andres.
COS Manila is at SM Aura Premier in Taguig City.