Cos, the 15-year-old London-based fashion brand owned by H&M, is embarking on wholesaling for the first time and has picked Nordstrom, Yoox and Breuninger as initial partners in the strategy.
“We’ve taken the time to really reevaluate our customer demand. We need to meet the customer where the customer wants to meet us,” Lloyd Goldby, the global head of growth for Cos, told WWD.
Nordstrom will start selling the Cos collection on Sept. 13, during New York Fashion Week both on its website and at five New York-area locations: the women’s flagship and separate men’s stores in Manhattan, and the Paramus, N.J., Westchester and Roosevelt Field, New York, stores.
“This will be great for maximizing our positioning in New York,” said Goldby, who is responsible for the brand’s expansion through brick-and-mortar stores and digitally, and for seeking new business opportunities.
In the U.S., Cos operates just 12 stores. “We need to build brand awareness in the U.S. and wholesaling will be a big part of it. Our brand awareness is relatively low in the U.S. compared to other markets. We have a lot of work to do,” Goldby said.
Sometime in early October, Cos will start selling on the Breuninger website, making the brand available to buy across Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Poland. The Stuttgart, Germany-based Breuninger also operates 11 department stores.
The Yoox website, which is part of the Yoox Net-a-porter Group, will begin carrying Cos in December this year and will be available to buy across all Yoox’s live markets.
Asked how much of the Cos collection Nordstrom, Yoox and Brueninger will carry, Goldby replied, “We are being very selective how we work with the partners. We’re making sure each is getting something quite special.”
He suggested Nordstrom’s Cos offering will be more curated with “an edit that goes hand-in-hand with New York Fashion Week, appealing to high-end, high-fashion customers.” With Brueninger and Yoox, he said, “they will be launching up to 70 percent of the collection, men’s and women’s.” Nordstrom will also offer men’s and women’s Cos styles.
“We’ve been very selective about the partners,” Goldby said. “We really see it as long-term partnerships but [are] still keeping it exciting and fresh for the customer.”
At the London headquarters of Cos, there’s a new wholesale team, and Cos employs regional experts in merchandising.
The wholesaling strategy is expected to grow. “We are in numerous talks with other partners globally,” said Goldby. For further wholesaling, “The timing has to be right and we have to get to know each others’ brands.”
He said that for Nordstrom and other retailers, “We can really easily fill a void, with our iconic wardrobe pieces, elevated essentials, innovative design and products made to last. It’s quality for the price point. There is really a gap in the marketplace for that.”
He said the Cos brand doesn’t target a specific age or income. “It’s a very wide audience, ageless. We don’t have a clear target. We cater to a wide range. You can spend $15 or $400. There is a wide range of price points.”
The brand is known for its modern, affordable clothing for men and women that ranges from classic to contemporary in style. It’s also known for using natural materials and creating store interiors with a minimalist aesthetic. Cos was established on London’s Regent Street in March 2007.
As Cos gets into wholesaling, there’s still plenty of room for growth on the brick-and-mortar side, considering Cos has just 267 stores in 47 markets around the world. Bringing Cos to the Nordstrom, Breuninger and Yoox websites will help determine where there could be a strong demand for the brand and the possibility of opening a Cos store.
“We still see the really important role of the stores and big potential for store expansion,” said Goldby. “We do have a clear expansion plan,” though he declined to specify the extent of it.
Considering the relatively small retail footprint that’s spread out globally, Goldby said there’s no concern about the channels cannibalizing sales from each other. Quite the opposite, the channels will strengthen each other, he said. Online, Cos operates in 38 markets.
For New York Fashion Week, Cos, as already reported by WWD, plans to debut its fall 2022 collection with a catwalk show on Sept. 13. The show will also be livestreamed on the brand’s website. Cos stated that the show will “celebrate New York’s diverse communities and individual expression against the city’s own powerful backdrop.”
“Expanding into wholesale has been in discussion for a while, but now the timing feels right. We know the retail landscape is changing and we need to meet our customers — new and existing — beyond our owned channels, by partnering with best-in-class multibrand retailers who complement our DNA,” Lea Rytz Goldman, the managing director of Cos, said in a statement.