Fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki dies aged 47

Sophia Kokosalaki: ‘A brilliant and hugely talented designer.’

 Sophia Kokosalaki: ‘A brilliant and hugely talented designer.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Sophia Kokosalaki, the London-based Greek designer, has died at the age of 47. Kokosalaki was known for her talent for drapery and clothes that had a female-friendly glamour. They were worn on the red carpet by Chloë Sevigny, Kirsten Dunst and Jennifer Connelly.

The fashion world took to social media to express their grief about the news. Journalist Melanie Rickey, writing on her @fashioneditoratlarge Instagram account, called Kokosalaki: “a brilliant and hugely talented designer who reinvented drape and Greek craft into exquisite high fashion.” Fashion critic Sarah Mower posted a picture of the designer bowing at the end of a catwalk with the caption: “Mourning the loss of dear Sophia Kokosalaki, a great talent, sister pioneer of the London fashion new wave of the 2000s, Greek fashion heroine.”

A Sophia Kokosalaki design from her autumn/winter 2004 collection at London fashion week.
 A Sophia Kokosalaki design from her autumn/winter 2004 collection at London fashion week. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Reuters

Kokosalaki introduced her label at London fashion week in 1999, and was part of a generation of fashion talent in the capital in the early noughties. A graduate of the respected Central Saint Martins MA in fashion, she soon established her aesthetic with draped dresses that felt elegant but also easy to wear. She once said of her clothes: “I like to design functional apparel that also allows you to look interesting.” She brought this look to the costumes for the opening ceremony of the Greek Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.

Her brand was bought by Only the Brave – the conglomerate ran by Diesel’s Renzo Rosso – in 2007, only for her to buy it back two years later. Kokosalaki also designed the high-end Diesel Black Gold for three years, from 2009 to 2012, created collections for Topshop and worked on the relaunch of Vionnet, the French heritage house. She introduced Kore, a cheaper line, in 2012, which was sold through Asos.

In recent years, Kokosalaki had retreated from the show circuit. She launched her first bridal collection in 2012, telling The Guardian: “I thought there wasn’t much on offer for the contemporary bride. By this I mean a modern woman that doesn’t want to feel overwhelmed by her dress and has a very chic approach to how she would like to be dressed for the day.” She continued to create wedding dresses, with her final collection on her website, from 2017, comprising 32 designs.

Kokosalaki is survived by her husband and daughter.


Pepsi makes its debut in fashion industry


NEW DELHI: Pepsi will mark its foray into the fashion industry through a collaboration with homegrown ready-to-wear label HUEMN, launching at FDCI’s upcoming Lotus India Fashion Week SS20.

The collection, created by designer duo Pranav Misra and Shyma Shetty, comprises statement athleisure. All denim fabric used in the collection is made using recycled plastic, in line with PepsiCo’s ‘Winning with Purpose’ vision which aims to build a world where plastics never become waste.

Speaking about the collection, Tarun Bhagat, Director-Marketing, Hydration and Cola, PepsiCo India, said: “Pepsi is a brand which has always resonated with the voice of today’s generation. Fashion has always been an important way of self-expression for Indian youth and our foray into the world of fashion is a step to celebrate this self-expression. This collection reflects the cool attitude and swag of the youth. We are very excited to launch the collection at the upcoming India Fashion Week and are confident that it will find its way into the hearts and closets of India’s youth very soon.”

HUEMN co-founder Shyma Shetty said: “We are thrilled to be playing with the iconography of a legacy brand such as Pepsi. The collection is an amalgamation of the ethos of both brands and an effort to bring both our audiences together, with an inclusive and fresh product line driven by both- popular culture and cutting edge fashion.”

The collection is an extension of part of Pepsi’s 2019 Har Ghoont Mein Swag’ campaign and will be unveiled at the Pepsi x HUEMN runway show at FDCI’s Lotus India Fashion Week on October 9.


Uniqlo Dismisses The Idea That It’s Fast Fashion Through The Concept Of LifeWear

A installation shot of the Uniqlo exhibition The Art and Science of Lifewear: New Form Follows Function


Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo may be under a parent company called Fast Retailing, but don’t assume that it’s a fast fashion brand.

“Part of the frustration we have in marketing is that Mr. Yanai [Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and CEO of Fast Retailing] wanted to say, I’m going to build a company that moves very quickly in being innovative,” said John C. Jay, Fast Retailing’s president of Global Creative, “So he called it Fast Retailing. But the press look at Fast Retailing and go, Aha, so you are fast fashion. But we are not. So the first step I will tell people…it’s not fast fashion, because we will never make disposable clothing.”

Uniqlo doesn’t just want you to think that its clothing isn’t fast fashion; it wants you to think that it is a way of improving life with the concept of LifeWear, which the brand introduced to the public through an immersive exhibition, The Art and Science of Lifewear: New Form Follows Function, in London’s Somerset House from September 16 to 21. LifeWear, according to brand, “is the Uniqlo concept that expresses simple, high-quality, everyday clothing with a practical sense of beauty and designed to make everyone’s life better.”

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It only makes sense that Yanai chose London for the location exhibition; it was the city where the brand’s genesis started, after Yanai paid a visit to the British retailer Next in 1987. “Back then, Next  embraced a concept of affordable lifestyles, incorporating the latest trends at a time in which classical and contemporary fashions happily coexisted,” he told a group of media. “It was on visiting the NEXT store that I resolved to create something similar in Japan. I wanted to create and sell top-quality clothing that would be affordable to all worldwide, incorporating fashion that would match the style preferences of wearers rather than simply following the latest trends.” In the ‘80s, Uniqlo existed as Unique Clothing Warehouse, and then, it was registered as what was supposed to be Uni Clo, but was accidentally changed to Uniqlo due to a misunderstanding that stuck in 1988. Now it has more than 2,000 stores across 23 markets around the world that yielded 2.3 trillion yen in sales [$21.4 billion] for the fiscal year ending in August 2018, making it the world’s third-largest clothing retailer.

Uniqlo develops clothes that are simple, yet stylish and comfortable. Silicon Valley engineers, Wall Street bankers, college students, fashionistas, and suburban soccer moms can all incorporate its pieces into their wardrobe effortlessly. As Yanai said, “We believe that individuality comes not from clothes, but the people wearing them.” Uniqlo’s technological innovations with Toray have made it the reason why consumers flock to its HEATTECH, thin underlayers that hold the body’s warmth in, every winter, and its AIRism line in the summer. Its Ultra Light Down items are also wintertime staples. Fashion insiders rely on the brand for well-designed basics, like soft cashmere sweaters, warm fleece jackets, and wool skirts. Its design team, led by global creative director Rebekka Bay and artistic director Christophe Lemaire, who is behind its elevated Uniqlo U line, knows what they’re doing. In addition, the brand recruits heavyweights like Jonathan Anderson, Inès de la Fressange, and Alexander Wang for capsule collections. The brand also introduces the masses to art, through its collaborations with MoMA and the artist KAWS. Uniqlo, for many, has become an integral part of people’s wardrobes—and as the name LifeWear implies, their lives.

Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and CEO of Fast Retailing


Mr. Yanai emphasized Uniqlo’s approach and the three pillars under which it operates: people, the planet, and community. “Our mission is to create clothes that are non-disposable, long-lasting, and which function as perfect components, providing the ultimate in everyday wear. That is our approach to sustainability.” In a world where 150 billion garments are produced annually for a population of 7.5 billion people, and where some 50 percent of fast fashion items are disposed of within a year, retailers need to rethink their business strategy, and Uniqlo’s approach is refreshing.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some 12.8 billion tons of clothing is sent to landfills every year. Greenpeace reports that 92 million tons of solid waste are produced each year with 98 million tons of natural resources. In the Ellen Macarthur Foundation report A New Textiles Economy, 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions come from textile production. Something’s gotta give, and Uniqlo is trying to do its part. Yanai is fully aware of the impact of the clothing industry on the environment. “I understand that this planet’s environment is at risk,” he said. “You gotta be in a hurry and try to do something to alleviate the situation, [otherwise] this planet will be disastrous.”

The brand announced two sustainability initiatives on September 16 in London—that it will collect used Ultra Light Down items from customers, which, thanks to its partner textile innovation partner Toray, will be extracted through a system it developed, cleansed, and turned into new products made with recycled material. In addition, Uniqlo will be use fibers recycled from reclaimed plastic PET bottles to produce its sweat- and moisture-wicking Dry-Ex pieces.

Uniqlo is also attempting to eliminate single-use plastics from its supply chain. “We want to eliminate any waste at all and also the use of plastic material to eliminate so, we are using paper that for example instead of plastic bags,” said Yukihiro Nitta, group senior vice president of sustainability at Fast Retailing. Uniqlo invites customers to bring any unwanted Uniqlo clothing to its stores to be recycled and donated to its partner,  the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It works carefully with merchandisers to ensure that clothes don’t go unsold, anything that isn’t sold goes to the UNHCR. To Bey, the often confusing and complicated term sustainability can mean a number of things. “It’s much more complex, it can be in creating a product that will last a long time,” she said. “It can be creating a product that is using pre or post consumer waste. Or it can be really interesting product that you can continue to be new.”

But, says Mr. Yanai, “I’m afraid going after 100 percent sustainable production could mean an extra load on the environment. We truly care about the environment, rather than numbers, we wanted to make sure whatever we do is good for the environment.”

With its ethos of LifeWear, its sustainability initiatives and plans, and its emphasis on keeping its clothes in your closet for years to come, Uniqlo’s example is one that should be followed by the other clothing giants.


YouTube launches optimized /Fashion page with curated videos, original content

To tap into how the video site is already a destination for beauty videos and style tips, is launching today. This “single destination for style content on YouTube” features a unique homepage and video watching experience on mobile.

/Fashion — pronounced “slash fashion” — comes as Fashion & Beauty channels on YouTube have grown over 6x between 2014 and 2018, with views in the billions last year alone. It will feature “original content from the biggest names in the industry” and other popular content. This page is similar in concept to YouTube Gaming, which was recently integrated back into the main site.

The aim for /Fashion is to create an ultimate destination for style content that bridges both our fabulous endemic creator community and the more traditional worlds of fashion and beauty.

The top of the screen features a carousel with large cover images of recent videos, like fashion shows. /Fashion can be subscribed to and arranged by video shelves from creators, industry professionals, publishers, and luxury fashion brands. Original content includes behind-the-scenes, while there’s a carousel of individual channels to explore and follow when watching a video.

  • Style content from your favorite YouTube creators: Creators are, and always will be, the heartbeat of our platform and /Fashion is no exception.
  • Industry collaborations: One of the most thrilling parts of the new Fashion & Beauty department has been to foster collaborations between fashion brands and our creators.
  • Straight from the Runway: Just in time for the kickoff of September Fashion Month, we’ll be livestreaming the latest collections straight from the runway, including Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Dior and more.
  • Industry access: We’re also excited to bring new voices onto YouTube from across the industry, including fashion professionals, publishers and brands.

In the coming months, YouTube plans to localize the page for global markets and add more international voices.


From vacuuming to circle bags: this week’s fashion trends

Leonard Cohen and Marianne

The white stuff: Leonard Cohen and Marianne. Photograph: Babis Mores/AP

Going up

White, head-to-toe Leonard And Marianne, but also Samuel Ross of A-Cold-Wall. Alpha dressing goes serene.

Monogrammed lab jackets As worn by Victoria Beckham and team in the VB Beauty labs. Science, but chic.

Depop disasters eBay alternative’s funniest messages are shared via Instagram account @depopdrama.

A toy Henry hoover on a white background
 Photograph: Alamy

Vacuuming Kylie Jenner’s hobby, we presume, after Travis Scott covered her floor with rose petals. Bloomin’ messy.

Mountain Warehouse The next Shoreditch House, if Snow Peak is anything to go by. The New York retailer is a hangout for “urban foragers, downtown artists, and the fashion set”, says The Cut.

Going down

Getting dressed From long nighties to silk two-pieces, everyone at Copenhagen fashion week was basically in their jammies. Couch to catwalk? We’re in.

beige round women’s handbag
 Photograph: Getty Images

Circle bags Half-moon bags are the it-shape.

Rose gold jewellery The warm, pinkish tone is best saved for eye shadow – see Sophie Turner and Margot Robbie.

Maxi dresses and trainers Mini skirts and boots are back, thanks to Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (and also the AW19 catwalks).

Duts AKA denim ruts. With autumn round the corner, we’re plotting to up our tights game – avoiding a groundhog day approach to your wardrobe.


Urban Chat: The fashion fight to remain relevant

Urban Chat: The fashion fight to remain relevant

Yes, there are fights in fashion, and not just the kind of hissy catfights among fashion folks as you’ve probably seen in the likes of the televised Next Top Modelreality show.

The real fights in fashion always center on two sides; the creative realm to usher in the next trend, and the business camp to translate the creativity into revenue.

At the end of the day, beyond the priceless couture or hyped streetwear, fashion is inherently a business.

As the world’s population steadily moves in hordes to cities and lifestyle becomes more dynamic and informal, fashion choices have gradually shifted into less death-or-alive situations.

Increasing mobility means a person may attend a handful of daily engagements wearing just an ensemble without the chance to go home and change, so the attire needs to be relevant to the course of the day instead of just a symbol of personal taste or purchasing power.

Even better if the particular fashion of choice can be a conversational starter attuned to the issue of the day –– showing relevance, not distance.

Lulu Lutfi Labibi, the Yogyakarta-based fashion designer who’s been credited for reviving lurik into the premium wardrobe, decided to shorten the distance by working with a handful of fellow Yogyakarta-based artisans and renowned artists, Indieguerillas, to open Warung Murakabi in the newly opened 12thARTJOG, Indonesia’s most coveted contemporary art fair.

Following the local philosophy of gotong royong (equal collaboration), Warung Murakabi is indeed a functioning warung (small shop) where goodies are offered with friendly personal approaches and patrons can socialize with each other within the intimate outlet.

On one side there is a marvelous art installation depicting lush vegetation, on the other side there is a fashion installation featuring Lulu’s lurik and batik designs, and just a step across the hall there is the furniture installation –– all a collaboration under the Warung Murakabi umbrella.

Serenaded by the Tumbas (buy in kromo Javanese dialect) litany, a not-so-subliminal message to coax visitors to make purchases, that corner of the Jogja National Museum’s ground floor does offer a small refuge for the weary urbanites who come for a healthy dose of art, a little fashion fix and hopefully a stylish shot or two for social media.

In recent years, many other designers have launched a capsule collection incorporating works of popular artists, but with the Warung Murakabi collaboration, Lulu, a graduate of Yogyakarta’s most prestigious art school majoring in textiles, showed that his brand was more seamlessly woven into the art scene.

Many art aficionados, a crowd often thumbing their noses down at fashion as shallow hedonism, didn’t seem to have trouble snapping up the merchandise, especially after Lulu rolled out a trunk show during ARTJOG’s opening party.

Another route is taken by Fashionlink, the commercial outlet dedicated to promising local designers in Senayan City.

Run by the power behind Jakarta Fashion Week (JFW), Fashionlink tries to address the environmental concerns directed in recent years at the global fashion industry.

While JFW has steadily allotted more slots to ecofriendly designs in the past couple of years, Fashionlink extended hands to premium furniture purveyor Savana and WWF Indonesia to launch Fashion Habitat, displayed within its premise in July and August.

Savana’s conceptual works offer representation of the endangered Sumatran tiger, Javan rhino and whale shark that are hoped to induce awareness of patrons to not only the animals’ plight but also fashion consumption style that has polluted and depleted the environment –– a direct counterattack at fast fashion labels that have inundated shopping malls worldwide and eroded Indonesian designers’ market share domestically.

A portion of sales throughout the exhibition is also donated to the WWF conservation fund.

While it may look a bit like a promotional gimmick, Fashionlink still has room to leverage this initiative further.

The International Tiger Day just took place last week, a follow-up awareness campaign could’ve been developed. The conceptual furniture could be turned into more use, perhaps educational tours or auctions of some kind, to raise both awareness and funds for the WWF.

Perhaps some of the talents selected for the upcoming JFW could feature works with textiles of zero waste affecting the habitat of endangered species.

Relevance is today’s name of the game.

You stay relevant to the public consciousness, you are factored into the public conversation, you remain the label increasingly finicky consumers will choose. Even the hoity-toity fashion folks now need to tread on this path.

So, who’s ready to do even more?