Collection of….'Oh no! Not another one….'

Collection of….'Oh no! Not another one….'

So Londoners, get ready, get excited, an upmarket, grown up version of H&M is set to open on Friday on Regent Street.  ‘Imaginatively’ named Collection of Style or COS for short, it’s supposed to bridge the gap between high street and high fashion.  But don’t for one second think it’s going to adopt the quick reaction to catwalks, flash-in-the-pan trends strategy that has made H&M work so well.  No no, it’s all about classics, the fashionable essentials – the perfect fitting t-shirt, skinny trousers.  Easy to wear. Understated chic.  The ad images say it all really.

Lovely jubbly, all very well, but to be honest, I’m not 100% sold.  COS could have taken what they have done so incredibly well with H&M and applied the same principles but with superior quality, fabrics and finish.  When I first heard about this new venture, I was expecting and hoping for something along the lines of Topshop’s Unique range which in my opinion bridges that gap that COS is claiming they will do.  I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that one of the biggest problems of high street fashion is though everything is very on-trend and very affordable, it all comes off looking too watered down and when fashion weeklies tout certain things on the high street as ‘must have’ items, you know you will bump into someone else wearing it.  Perhaps it’s wishful thinking but I’m after distinctive, edgy design with quality on par with designer ready to wear at prices that are affordable but not ridiculously cheap. Something that is a little on the niche side design-wise but to be honest, with the number of people in London that are catwalk/high fashion-savvy, I wouldn’t say it’s a completely suicidal business proposition.  I imagined something like Topshop Unique but on a larger store-wide scale. Something for the people who appreciate design and are catwalk-observant but cannot necessarily afford to buy designer ready to wear all the time. Someone like me? I suppose that is the crux of it. My desires don’t correlate with mass market demand yet somehow, I see it working on some level.

The gripe I have is that I think the UK is becoming a little saturated with ‘high quality basics/classic fashion.’  We have always had access to the French answers to fashionable basics APC, Petit Bateau etc and now Comptoirs de Cotonniers has got four stores in London, with more to come.  Bananna Republic, whose clothes bear a lot of similarity to what COS are trying to achieve (judging from the initial press images) is also coming to London next year.  Then we have Muji and Uniqlo for the more utilitarian but still chic basics.  I just feel like I have the ability to find the perfect t-shirt, the skinny trews for around the same price brackets of COS and if it’s a little more expensive than perhaps there lies the connundrum.  If you spend a little more on those basics/essentials/classics that count and need to last, what is left of our clothing budget can go on the ‘different’, ‘unique’ and ‘trend-led’ fashion.  Well for me, that is basically how my wardrobe equation works and thus makes COS a little redundant for me. 

COS are probably completely on the ball with their strategy and I suppose it will become a raving success with stores planned for Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.  I just can’t help but wonder at the could-be potential of taking what H&M have done so well with fast reactions to trends and design and taking it to a higher more exciting and aspirational level.


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  1. DJM

    2007-03-14 at 2:58 PM

    I totally agree 100%. I am not in the slightest bit excited by this and feel we, even outside of London, have plenty stores stocking high quality basics. When I posted about this a while ago I said I wasn’t excited then, and that still holds true now I’ve seen some of the collection. I was hoping for something akin to Unique too, something which takes a few risks design wise.

  2. rachel

    2007-03-14 at 4:55 PM

    really need some more shops like the ones you said..
    ahead of fashion but cheaper.

  3. sherry

    2007-03-14 at 7:34 PM

    this is what the US needs more of. i wish GAP would open their eyes and get a clue.

  4. e

    2007-03-14 at 7:36 PM

    Banana Republic is so far off from all the brands you stated above. No euro chic at all. Poorly fitting, cookie cutter, crappy materials, overpriced clothing.

  5. Saskia

    2007-03-14 at 7:46 PM

    I get h&m’s message and yet I agree with you, Susie. Unique, modern fashion should at least in parts be available for everyone. Like Acne, although I still can’t afford it (and Acne is not cheap actually). …hmmm… Well, is it possible to sell unique quality fashion at a low price anyway? I wonder.

  6. Queen of Suburbia

    2007-03-15 at 12:09 AM

    Years ago hyper hyper in Kensington used to fit that niche pretty well. But it’s long gone… It’s weird – in an age where pretty much everything is more accessible, access to new talented design is less so…maybe it’s something to do with price of real estate or something – floor space is expensive so less risks are taken?

  7. jennine

    2007-03-15 at 6:50 PM

    hmm… they obviously weren’t doing good market research as forth & towne the gap’s newest venture in middle of the road fashion was a complete bust.

  8. NOA

    2007-03-16 at 6:07 AM

    Where OH where can i order this or any H and M stuff online. But especially this collection because it wont be coming to the U.S?

  9. ambika

    2007-03-16 at 10:33 PM

    Yeah, when I got to the part about basics, I stopped being interested. Between the Gap, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Ann Taylor…need I go on? There are a million chains putting out basics in varying levels of quality. It would be nice to have a chain that doesn’t mind putting a little quality into trendy pieces, too.

  10. Raffy

    2007-03-17 at 9:37 AM

    Hey, Banana Republic merino sweaters are great! I buy them on the eBay since in Italy there’s no BR and I’m very satisfied as for style and quality. 😛

  11. michaela

    2007-03-19 at 9:29 PM

    as i don’t live in the uk, i would be very interested, how the quality of the COS turned out to be finally. could someone comment? thx for this!

  12. KIALY

    2007-09-19 at 7:39 PM

    wow you look really really pretty in that picture

  13. KIALY

    2007-09-19 at 7:51 PM

    oopsie doopsy did a poopsie wrong window lol!

  14. anon.

    2007-09-21 at 12:35 PM

    forth and towne was very different – different market (US) and a different demographic (upper-middle class older women – BOBOs). too bad they flopped, i actually liked their stuff more than either gap or banana republic.
    it’s fascinating that yet another store like that is opening in the UK, when it’s here in the US that we could really use something like that! out of the list of gap, BR, j. crew, and ann taylor (ugh, i just feel ill writing the list) the only one i can stand is j. crew, and even their stuff is sometimes TOO classic, and it’s also much more expensive than the others. (meanwhile, the other three are barf-inducing dowdy). i really wish we had a store here in the US that did basics, but basics that were sharp and fashion-forward (i.e. that could be combined with the trendier stuff). it’s what the gap used to be, is supposed to be, could have been… club monaco also used to, a long time ago, fit that bill, but after being acquired by ralph lauren et al it doesn’t really anymore. we barely have APC here, muji only in the met gift store in NYC (and no clothes, as far as i know), and none of the other stores you have mentioned (oh wait uniqlo. also only in NYC. arg.) so, COS, if the UK doesn’t go so well for you, how about giving the states a try? i know i’m dreaming but… well, one day, i hope.

  15. Sebastian

    2008-04-13 at 1:33 PM

    Ok. I hear what you are saying. But H&M is already doing a up-market range within their store. It’s called “H&M Clothes” (I know it’s a dumb name, but what can I say). It’s the garments with the salmon pink label inside. Really COS has nothing to do with H&M. Sure enough it’s part of H&M ltd., but the designers are completely different and the founder of COS is the son of the chairman of H&M. He used the money his father made to open a different retail experience. The only connection is that COS will probably buy materials from the same suppliers for cheaper conditions because H&M has good connections (being in the industry for over 40 years now) and using the same logistics. Apart from that, they’ve got nothing to do with each other. Trust me, I should know, i worked for both.

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