by Jennifer Nini for Lucy's Magazine
You wouldn’t associate a fear of flying with a person who boards a plane about as often as women get their nails done, but it’s just one quirk of many for Agata Kozak, fashion designer and founder of COSSAC.
The East London-based designer who hails from Poland and has studied at not one but two reputable design schools, is also obsessed with sustainability, which is at odds with a career in the world’s second most polluting industry.
In an effort to understand Agata and resolve this seeming contradiction, decided an interview was in order with this selfprofessedeco fashion designer.
JENNIFER: What inspired you to become a fashion designer?
AGATA: When I was young, my mother was friends with a famous
Polish fashion designer. I had an insight into the fashion world,
catwalks, events - and I loved it. I was also always a creative
person. I enjoyed making things and was fascinated by the
complex process of creating a garment.
JENNIFER: Which design schools did you go to?
AGATA: I went to ESDi in Barcelona and to Mimar Sinan in
Istanbul. Both amazing universities, both very different. I like
the fact that my fashion education was shaped by such diverse
cultures which also suited my cosmopolitan nature very well.
What I am now and what COSSAC stands for is a fruit of these
JENNIFER: What’s your favourite part about your job?
AGATA: I love the first part of the design process the most - the
research, discovering trends, tendencies. I enjoy analysing
current fashion and social cultures as well as studying history of
art and fashion. Discovering and feeling new fabrics. The final
product depends on how good your preparations and studies
were. And I like to be as much of a perfectionist as I can be.
JENNIFER: Where do you find the creative inspiration for each
AGATA: I love fashion history books. In the end fashion always
makes circles and repeats itself to some extend. I also use trend
forecasting websites, Instagram, Pinterest as well as creative
magazines such as Cereal, Kinfolk or Purple. I also observe a
lot; particularly the people around me. As Diana Vreeland once
said the ‘eye has to travel.’ I let my eyes travel a lot.
JENNIFER: You worked as a designer for other brands prior to
launching your own label. How did that experience impact the
way you run your own brand?
AGATA: I wanted to get as much diverse experience as possible.
I worked in both high end and high street in Turkey, Spain and
the UK. I did many freelance projects too. I had to go through
all of this to know what I truly wanted and felt comfortable doing.
COSSAC is a fruit of all these experiences and our current home,
London, was also carefully chosen as a creative and fashion
hub with so many opportunities and logistic advantages it offers.
JENNIFER: Is that why COSSAC focusses on sustainability,
because you saw a lot of waste when you were working for other
AGATA: The longer I lived in London the more I became
conscious of the way I lived. I started to buy organic, support
small local businesses and became increasingly interested in
applying a sustainable approach to other areas on my life. My
interest in sustainable clothing was a natural consequence. Of
course in the past I, like many other people, got seduced by easily
accessible fast fashion but as I continued working in the industry,
I saw many disturbing things and as I started to educate myself
about the subject by reading books and watching documentaries
I knew that I would like to contribute to the change in the fashion
I always wanted to have my own brand but after my experiences
with fashion, I decided that my brand has to ‘do good’. I think
the breaking points were the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013 and
reading Lucy Siegle’s ‘To die for: Is fashion wearing out the world?’
I would like people to question how and where things are made and
understand that a sustainably produced garment does not cost
£10. They have to understand the labour that goes into it and care
about people who made the piece of clothing they are wearing.
When a garment has a story behind it, we treat it with more care
and love. I would like people to start to cherish fashion again, like
they used to before fast fashion.
JENNIFER: What makes COSSAC ‘sustainable’?
AGATA: I try to make every stage of product development as
effective and sustainable as possible. I call it smart design;
experimenting with limited production runs, zero waste design and
transeasonality. I think that eco fashion brands often forget that
at the end of the day they sell fashion and the product has to be
We create product that is attractive to the mainstream fashion
customer as well as the niche green-buyer. On top of that, what
differentiates us, is the fact that we thrive on collaboration and
promoting other artists, especially photographers; I believe that
networking and helping each other is the way forward.
JENNIFER: How do you balance creativity with running the
AGATA: It is hard. As a creative I do struggle with the business part
of running a brand. At the end of the day I simply know how to draw
pretty clothes. I grow together with COSSAC but I am also lucky
to have amazing people helping me out with business mentoring,
marketing help and great agents who handle sales. Running a
fashion brand for me is like a constant learning curve. I do business
courses, seminars, trade shows; I read books and constantly have
a business podcast on the go. It’s all scary but very exciting and
JENNIFER: What motto do you live by?
AGATA: There are so many! One of my favourites is “Life starts
outside of your comfort zone” which I repeat to myself every time I
have to board a plane. I’m petrified of flying but I know that at the
end of each flight, great adventure awaits.