Many fashion designers will agree that the work they do is intoxicatingly glamorous. There is a requirement to be constantly inventing; creating patterns, designs, lookbooks, and pulling talent and concepts for photo shoots. The process of creating beautiful collections and affecting the world with an original artistic vision is what pushes many designers into the industry.
COSSAC founder Agata Kozak is no exception.
But what makes her different from her peers, is that she is led by something bigger than just the desire to see her designs be brought to life. Agata’s mission is almost Herculean in nature given our modern penchant for cheap instant gratification: to change the fashion conversation to one that is deeper, more conscious, more transparent. “I am awake to the abuse of people and our planet that takes place in the wasteful mainstream fashion indus-try,” she laments. “We [as fashion designers] have a responsibility to address these is-sues, as fashion is now arguably the largest industry in the world.”
Being the change.
With five years design experience with other fashion brands and travelling across Europe and Asia to inspect production processes, Agata gained valuable insight into the destruc-tive nature of the fashion industry. While other designers would have embraced the lavish-ness of the jet setting lifestyle, Agata’s concerns for the future of fashion weighed heavily on her mind. She surveyed the waste, the disregard for worker’s welfare, the unsustaina-ble nature of fast fashion and thought, There must be a better way to do this business of fashion.
Luckily for us our beloved designer followed this initial thought to it’s proper conclusion - launching a fashion brand that would “pioneer a change in the movement towards eco fashion” and be an alternative to high street fashion.
In October 2014, Agata Kozak launched her label COSSAC, an obvious namesake in sound, not in spelling.
From using eco-friendly and fair trade fabrics such as organic cotton, tencel and recycled fabrics; maintaining close relationships with suppliers; visiting ethical production facilities in Turkey, and using recycled materials in her packaging; Agata is highly involved in every aspect of her brand, and also extremely discerning in the decisions she makes. It’s this kind of leadership, attention to detail, commitment to supply chain transparency that is needed within the fashion industry.
For Agata it’s really quite simple - she’s just leading by example. And her desire for posi-tive change has naturally crossed over to many other aspects of her life. “From the cos-metics I use to the food I eat, I have applied the sustainable twist to all areas of my life.” And her sustainability mantra has gone viral, affecting each member of the team too.
The business side of a fashion business.
Now despite how she makes running a business look - with her enviable organisational skills and limitless energy - operating a fashion business is far from easy. We know this because we’re privy to the challenges she faces, particularly when it comes to strategic planning. “I am a creative, so I do struggle when it comes to the business side of things,” Agata admits.
In design school, aspiring designers are taught the technique, the craft. The focus is less on operations and more on the artistic. It’s only when a designer leaves school to launch a brand, that he or she realises how ill-prepared they are with running a business. However this knowledge gap isn’t stopping Agata. She is determined to achieve consistency of sales and strong demand forecasts. “I am doing business management courses to help me with all of this.”
Almost two years in, COSSAC has had some great exposure. The brand has been pro-moted at trade shows such as Pure London and The Ethical Fashion Show in Berlin. COS-SAC has been given big nods of approval from the conscious fashion pack, and worn by some of its most distinguished members. Most importantly, COSSAC has gained wider publicity, having been featured in magazines such as Nylon, Flanelle, Self Control Mag and Glamour (Germany). All this is proof that Agata has hit a winning formula in combining sustainable design and affordability, with clever use of avant garde styling and photo shoots to enhance the appeal of the brand. “I think if I make the garments appealing to both conscious and mainstream consumers, it will be a success.” The fact that ASOS Green Room, one of the eco fashion heavy weights, came knocking - requesting she ex-pand her capsule collection from 16 pieces to 60 in order to stock the brand, a request Agata outright refused - is not only a testament to her character, but a sign she’s on the right track.
While there are absolutely no guarantees in life, what we can be sure of is that talent, work ethic, perseverance and passion usually pays off in some way, shape or form. If our hard-working visionary designer Agata is throwing her full weight behind the sustainable fashion cause, we are rallying behind her to make sure that a sustainable business model will soon follow.
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