Fair trade, local made, recycled, sustainable, traditional techniques, handmade… those all are words playing again and again through the records of sustainability we are listening lately. This new music is becoming the new Hit of Fashion, flowing up to project good vibes to our days. Among the songs, we find one called Meet me in the Streets of Istambul, by Cossac. It sounds deep, sexy, hot… We take the phone and contact the creator, Agatka Natalia Kozak. She is nice, very nice… and shows us so many beautiful things about fashion…
Agatka was born and raised in Poland. With 19 years old, she moved to Barcelona to complete her fashion studies at ESDi. “Meanwhile I was in Barcelona I made lots of practices in some fashion companies, like Inditex Group. When I finished the university I start to look for a real job and I got one there. But I refused it. I moved to Istanbul to attend the prestigious Mimar Sinan. After graduating from my fashion education, I decided to move to London, because I knew there I could get more experience. Six years ago, London was the place to be when you wanted to become a fashion designer. I found Barcelona a little bit limited, with Inditex and nothing else. In London, I got a job straight away. I knew I wanted to build up my own label but in order to do that I needed experience. Then I started to work for both high end and high street labels and with some distinguished designers for London Fashion Week. After four years working for other people, I decided to make up my own brand, but I wanted to do something different and contribute to the world. Then, the eco–hot label Cossac was born”.
“What I want for my company is to stay small. I do not want it to get big because I do not think a big business can be sustainable. I also think small is beautiful and if you can do your living of what you love and you can contribute to do a better World, I am happy with that”.
“I think the reason why Cossac develops well is because it has a different approach to organic fashion. Most of the times, organic fashion is associated to the hippie style, not neccesary really nice. The most of the people I asked told me that it was the main reason why they do not buy organic fashion. You can not put sustainability in people faces, they do not like it. I wanted Cossac to be sexy and to be able to compite with brands like Zara, really cool, really young, fresh”.
What began as infatuation with the glamorous side of fashion, quickly turned into a full blown love affair that enabled Agatka Kozak to not only carve an industrious career in fashion design, but would lead her to pioneer industry change towards eco fashion.
We ask Agatka what labels can we find in her wardrobe. “Mainly Cossac, obviously” – she answers. But she also does have Veja sneakers, Botanica Workshop underwear, Not Label, Friday’s Project, which uses a lot of organic cotton, bamboo and ecochic fabrics…
About her eco and ethical lifestyle she says: “London people is very sustainable orientated. Going to farming markets and shopping localy is very important. I do not want to be hypocrite. Sometimes, when I do not have time, I have to go to Tesco to buy my food, but whenever the weekend comes, I go to small shops because I try to support small business, because I am a small business too and I know what does it mean. Everything I use for my body and my skin is ecological. I am very, very carefull about those things. I do a lot of meditation. All my life is sustainable. When it comes to the food I eat, 90% is organic, I would say”.
“It was always on my mind to build a sustainable label. At the very beginning I thought about just making the label. But it was 2014, and the I saw the Rana Plaza Disaster and at that time I was changing to a more sustainable way of living. So it was a natural outgoing. And it maked me feel good to be part of the change”.
From Turkey to Portugal
“I have a factory in Turkey which I am working with from the beginning and I am going to start to work with a new one in Portugal. The factory in Turkey is a family-run Business. It is not certificad with GOTS but it has ISO certification. What I love about the place is that when you go to the factory and you want to go to the main office, you have to go through the production area and for me it means they do not have anything to hide. I know who makes my clothes, I go there every three months. I always bring them gifts, I know the hours they work and the money they get, I know they only work from monday to friday… But I had to find a new factory in Portugal because in Turkey, the minumum quantity the factories ask is ridiculous and sometimes they refuse to work with me because producing organic clothes is more difficult and the price is crazy high. I can not reach the minimum. These companies used to work with Zara or Mango and they do not want to make the effort for new clients. But in Portugal, there are small companies where the minimum order is 100 meters, not 1.000 meters, like in Turkey. I visited the factory, I met the workers, everything is clean… I have found a good factory there.”
Cossac has being running now for two years. The company really picked up last april. “I am not closed to live out of it but I am on a good way. I have a nice agent”.
Meet me in the Streets of Istambul
Designed in London and made in Europe, Cossac promotes the minimalistic concept of Capsule Wardrobes, and offers a curated selection of contemporary threads and redefined basics with a sass edge. Sustainably designed and ethically produced, each quality garment is intended to be transeasonal, with the aim of minimising wastefulness and maximising usefulness. The SS2017 collection of Cossac was called Minimal Boho, but then something happended. “When we were working on the Lookbook, I called it Meet me in the streets of Istambul, and everybody started to call the Collection like that. Then I decided to change the name”.
“I love Istambul. I was living there for a while. It is a little tribute to Istambul. I found an amazing team and I wanted to celebrate it. Scaring things are happening at Turkey at the moment. I am really worried about the future of the country. Politically it is going in a very wrong direction. So I just wanted to celebrate what is good in Istambul”.
This collection typifies Agatka’s fond memories of living abroad in Istanbul as a design student and the unassuming style she’d often see in unlikely corners. About the fabrics she uses in her collection, Agatka declares: “I work with Woven Tencel, it makes the garment looks like a millon dollars one”. Tencel is a natural man made fibre made from wool pulp from sustainable tree farms. The production process is based on a closed loop solvent spinning that recovers or decomposes all solvents and emissions. Tencel has been budded the fabric of the future thanks to its eco-friendly and economical production process. “I also use jersey Tencel and Cupro. I am used to work with organic cotton (easily available in Portugal), organic wool, recycled polyester…”
Change the habits, think twice
Agatka says it is difficult to build a sustainable label nowadays. “The problem of the current fashion system is that the consumer prefer quantity to quality. Everything is very fast. My generation grew up with the sensation that it is normal to pay 25 euros for a dress. The people does not want to pay 100 euros for a dress but they want to support an eco-fashion label… so there may be something wrong here”.
“Consumers should stop and think twice before they are buying. They should think if they are going to wear that garment more than 30 times. They just have to be responsable when they take a decision”.
That is a problem that other big labels, such as Zara and H&M, do not have. We ask her about the eco-concious fashion collections launched by Zara or H&M. She really appreciate that “they are making an effort and it is good to have those companies that can invest in sustainability, because they can affort Technologies that I can not. Actually, H&M have a massive sustainability department. But, what worries me is that they are using this sustainable face to cover all the unsustainable fashion they are producing. But, it is good, that today they do at least something. It is like companies, such as Adidas, Nike, C&A… But if I am honest, I think the truth is that they can not be sustainable, because if they were, they would not earn so much money, and they do”.
The most inspirable person for Agatka is Jennifer, the ecowarriorprincess. “She has made an amazing job and she understands that everything is about finding balance, extreme is never good. And she is very truth to herself: the way she shows the people she works with, the way she writes the blog, the way she does the transparent reports every month… It is very, very admirable. She is very open and we have a very good connection. Other person that also I admire is Yuka, my agent. We are very similar”.
+ info: COSSAC