Without even realising, beloved minimalist label COS might have just done the most punk thing possible: a debut show at London Fashion Week.

Hear me out.

Punk was always about being anti-establishment. Anti-greed and -corporation and a celebration of nonconformity. Fashion Week, for all its celebration of creativity, can sometimes feel a little…exclusive. Be it price range or be it that fashion is intrinsically clique-y by nature. So when a brand that rejects traditional seasons, doesn’t do trends, and is unashamedly a high street experience takes on a major fashion week, it’s shaking shit up a bit.  

COS, London Fashion Week
Love a degrade dye knit. Image: COS.

That Scandinavian brand COS would choose to show at London Fashion Week could suggest two things: firstly, the brand known for designs that encourage a more timeless approach to style and a departure from traditional trend driven collections might be flirting with more seasonal codes. Secondly, said brand is making a statement on what high street brands can offer fashion as a movement. That luxury can be both directional and affordable.

The location chosen for their debut runway was London’s Roundhouse – a former railway turntable turned arts venue that you could argue highlights the philosophy of the collection. That even something engineered for practical purposes can still be a source of art. And so it was with their Autumn Winter ‘21 range.

Still the same core COS values of keep it simple, make it elegant, the emphasis of the new collection is on the way great design is informed by both structure and detail. Tailoring is ever so slightly oversized, adding volume to proportions without taking away any of the garment’s architecture. The signature flash of colour made itself known in a range of exquisitely dyed wool garments. The hybrid of balayage and tye-dye effect a refreshing exploration into pattern from a brand known for its mastery of colour blocking.

At the core of the entire show however was the utilitarian approach to menswear that still retained its feeling of luxury and comfort. If there’s one thing that the past two years have taught us it’s that clothes are pointless if they’re not comfortable. And even if we are still in lockdown, the desire to dress for the day remains. 

A pair of trousers at first glance appear to be your standard, tailored silhouette. Closer inspection reveals the cargo-elements – oversized side pocket, a stitch that runs the length of the leg in lieu of a seam. Over this, unstructured coating that flows as naturally as water across the shoulders. Softness is clearly still big and for menswear, it’s a welcome change. 

COS, London Fashion Week
Zip details for shirting rather than buttons? The future is here folks. Image: COS

As to why the Scandinavian label chose London Fashion Week as opposed to the more close-to-home Stockholm Fashion Week? It could simply be an homage to the city that they launched their first flagship store in. Or it could be because London Fashion Week has always been considered the rebel of the events – London has always been the less stuck up of all the fashion weeks. Britain’s punk sensibility always bubbles away just below the surface. While COS might be a far cry from pins in the nose and mohawks, a high street brand being the biggest show at a major fashion week is definitely disruptive. It just didn’t have to shout to do it.