Dear COS………..a word of warning!

This week the weather has changed, there’s a nip in the air, it’s getting darker in the morning and we’ve started thinking about new winter clothes. Every season, you are our first port of call when it comes to shopping for new clothes.

We have loved you, unconditionally, since that first day we entered the Regent St store way back in 2008. We’ve admired your pure and honest style and your ability to capture just what we want every single season – simple shapes, clean lines, clever details and good quality fabrics in shapes that flatter our middle aged figures. Your colour palettes and fabrics push boundaries, yet still manage to fit in with previous seasons purchases and you are not obsessed with finding the “latest thing” – you make timeless, stylish, unexpected clothes, that we want to wear.

Your look books and in-store graphics resonate with our sense of style and are aspirational, yet attainable and your prices are just right. We leave your lovely, easy to shop stores feeling good about our purchases and ourselves – not something that happens often in High St shops these days.

We were over joyed when you launched your website, a chance to browse and buy online and to tap into what’s inspiring you – which can be as random as a collection of soap bars, to customized bikes from Stockholm. Like us you are eclectic, stylish and care about design. Uninfluenced by celebrity and trends, you are a brand with insight and integrity, who know themselves and their customer.

Or so we thought!

Rebekkaa Bay came up with the COS concept in 2006 and was design director until 2011, when she went to Bruuns Bazaar. Anyone who works in fashion knows, that all successful companies have one thing in common – a vision and a single minded creative who implements it..

Its rare for the visionary to be allowed to translate their ideas in a pure form in large companies – but in this case, it seems to have happened. No-one knows your story, as you never actively seek publicity, but my instinct tells me either someone high up at H & M trusted Bay and let her get on with it and were pleasantly surprised when it became a success –  or she had a daily fight on her hands to prove there were customers out there who wanted to buy well designed, clever clothes on the high street. Either way I suspect she was COS, in the same way that Apple was Steve Jobs and Net-a-Porter is Natalie Massenet.

It takes a whole six months to a year  for a change in design director to affect a clothing collection and over the last couple of months I have been hearing the same thing, “I’m not loving COS so much, it seems to have changed”. Don’t be ridiculous I thought, never! The last time I shopped there before I went on holiday, everything was as it should be, gorgeous colour palette, good quality basics, clever styling and interesting details in directional yet wearable shapes.

But when I went to check out the A/W range this week, there it was, for all to see – someone had tampered with our COS! The shop felt the same, the A/W campaign is gorgeous, the website is still in tact – but the clothes!

It’s very subtle, but its there and it may not be obvious to the untrained eye – yet!
There’s the odd dodgy shaped shirt in a cheap crinkly viscose (so not COS), a nasty piece of knitwear, some strange pockets, weirdly placed on a badly shaped tunic, too many styles and no distinct COS colour palette. OMFG it felt a little bit like *whispers* H&M!

We all know COS is part of H&M, but we pretended it didn’t matter. H&M is for our daughters and younger colleagues, not for us – apart from the occasional collaboration, obvs.

Dear dear COS, pleeaase listen to us and listen hard. We are not H&M customers, but older. We have never ever shopped there and if you think you can slip the odd “re-worked” H&M best seller in there without us noticing, you are very much under estimating the obsessive and quite frankly, cult like, COS customer!

I fear as we speak, there are designers desperately clinging onto the brand they know and love, while buyers and merchandisers are looking at spread sheets, wondering how they can change designs, use cheaper fabrics and work with H&M suppliers, to consolidate costs.

Be warned it may be subtle now, but we are watching and if you tamper with our beloved, special brand, we will quite simply STOP shopping there.

Rebekka Bay has gone to be creative director of Gap. We once loved Gap and we could learn to love it again.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you!


  • Bev Stellas says:

    I have always loved COS, affordable, stylish with a bit of an edge, and suits a big girl. If it starts to embrace H&M quality I too, will no longer be a fan. I have noticed similarities in styles on some items in both stores, as I do have the odd browse in H&M…..but it simply doesn’t work for COS.

  • Katherine says:

    Totally agree – that was exactly my experience when I did an autumn wardrobe foray earlier in the week and came away unexpectedly empty-handed.

  • notsurebut says:

    Oh dear one of the few places I could cope with shopping in, haven’t been there in a wee while probably won’t bother now, should we start a petition? Will be keeping a close eye on Gap hopefully they will have some interesting developments soon.

  • Jane says:

    #saveourCOS. Quite pleased at the prospect of COS like Gap – nice! Jx

  • Sue says:

    oh no.And I’d only just got into COS.Love the plainness and fabrics.Will need to check out GAP again.Sue

  • Jane says:

    We are all scared Alyson – this is a fashion emergency of epic proportions! Jx

  • Andrea says:

    Even I have managed to purchase a few lovely things from Cos from Selfridges in Manchester, although I have always found the sizing really weird, I can vary by about three sizes in tops and dresses!
    Not sure about Gap, I always find the quality of their clothes so poor, in fact when I was in there the other week I thought I was in Primark by mistake – horror!

  • Dinah Hall says:

    Got to argue with you on H&M. Admittedly, it’s only a tiny part of their stock but I ALWAYS find something amazing in the Regent Street store, in the section on the left as you go in. And check out their design competition winner Stine Riis. This top is fabulous – it feels like a really high end designer piece. (Sorry, it’s sold out online – which makes me feel very smug indeed as I’ve already grabbed mine.)

    I’m reserving judgement on Cos as last time I went there was a lot to like….

  • Amanda says:

    Oh god after going in today I confirm it’s true. After struggling all summer with the peach and lavender – they only are ever going to work in the most beautiful of fabrics- I left with one single top. And a refund card – which may be difficult to spend at this rate. The shoes – what’s happened for gods sake??!!!! X

  • Cathy says:

    I went to the High St Ken branch eartlier this week looking for some clothes for autumn. There was a lot of stock some of it a bit strange. I came out empty handed a first for me. Reading this I know now why, oh dear.

  • cara says:

    sadly agree. used to buy a few pieces each season, but there is very little I like there now. better for my wallet I guess.

  • Anja says:

    Unimaginative, awkward and totally devout of inspiration just as always. Why this brand has ever been featured anywhere is beyond me. Stop boring us, Cos!

  • emma says:

    Oh well after a long love affair with cos its over! I had returned 2 items never worn.
    For them to turn back up 6 weeks later with marks all over one of the tops and the other was in the same condition ot was sent back inperfect.
    To then be told that it had been returned to them in unsaleable condition .
    After a half hour wasted on the phone i have decided never to darken there door again very unhappy excustomer

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