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An Interview with Agata Kozak for Lucy's Magazine


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

eclectic influences.

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

collection?

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

brands?

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

industry.

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

aesthetically appealing.

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

business?

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

rewarding!

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.