If you like crisp white shirts, muted tones and loose fitting, contemporary styles then you’re going to like COS. The Scandinavian store opened the doors of its first Sydney store on November 19 in a majestic former Commonwealth Bank building in Martin Place.
COS, which stands for Collection of Style (though very few people call it that), is part of the H&M Group alongside Cheap Monday and &Other Stories. It’s like a sophisticated older sibling to H&M. The clothing is affordable, rather than cheap, and the styles are modern and fashion-forward, rather than footloose and casual.
Time Out had a sneak peek into the store and here’s what we learned:
1. It’s roomy. The new store feels like we’re in Melbourne, or Paris; they’ve created compartments for various tones and styles. To the left is a decent range of menswear, to the right is a maze of women’s wear divided up by lifestyle and occasion. Are you in the mood for a black silk shift dress? You’ll find those nestled with many other smart monochrome options. Fancy something girly and vibrant? The crayon tones in the midsection of the store will draw you in until you’re knee-deep in pleated pastels. They've got a corner of kids' wear too.
2. The changing rooms don’t make us feel shitty. As one Time Out staff member said, “I don’t usually like trying on swimwear, but I felt pretty good after trying on that striped bikini”. That’s a win right there.
3. They’ve got trans-seasonal styles. It’s always going to be a tough decision for a Northern Hemisphere-based brand when they expand south of the Equator: send us the new styles, or give us something we can wear now? COS have chosen to do both. Look for the signage above the rails of clothing. If it says ‘New to COS’ or ‘Just arrived’ then you’re looking at what’s in store in Europe. If you’re looking at swimwear, use your smarts.
4. We can purchase a new outfit in under $200. Is COS cheap? Well, that’s relative. You can pick up a silk dress for $150, or an oversized cotton tunic for $99. Delicate and sheer undies for $35. Shoes made in Portugal for $215. Or a $30 basic men’s T-shirt.
5. They have plenty of accessories. Chunky asymmetrical necklaces, delicate copper bracelets, ruby red leather clutch bags, disco-ready backpacks and shimmering socks. COS likes to play with textures and fabrics across its clothing and accessories, so prices vary from $65 for a backpack to $150 for the leather clutch.
6. It’s easy to get carried away. You need that $49 black, semi-sheer tank right? And those bobby socks are adorable. New undies are always a good idea. What’s that she said? Last size in store? We’ll take it.
7. Sizes are limited. Where is the good shit, asks Time Out’s Editor? It’s everywhere. Like its sister brand H&M, products come and go very, very quickly. Merchandising is an art form: once an item is out of stock a shiny new thing pops up in its place. It makes searching for that dress your friend found very difficult, especially since sizing is limited to S, M & L for some items.
8. They have a 30-day returns policy. Can’t be bothered with the queues for the changing rooms? You may regret walking away (see point 7), but you can always change your mind.
9. H&M's queues have gone. Because they've moved to COS.