The SS15 collection is the ‘Cloudbreak Collection’ and AW15 the ‘Akari Collection’. Tell us about the concept behind these collections and when they are available to buy?
ALT/TALKS: CHARLI COHEN, BRINGING FASHION AND FIT TOGETHER.
Being Fashionably fit, has well and truly become a ‘thing’. Owning the latest saucy but supportive sports bra, having a bursting sports-drobe and wearing gym clothes outside of the gym has never been cooler. Not only have we gone fash fit crazy, brands have joined the bandwagon too. Chanel and Dior are sending trainers down the runway (beautiful ones at that), high street brands such as H&M to premium fashion labels such as Whistles are launching sportswear ranges and young, independent sportswear designers such as Charli Cohen are participating in the cream of the fashion industry crop – London Fashion Week (where btw she used Instagram fit babes and regular girls to model her collection).
We were lucky enough to get an interview with Charli to find out how she managed to launch a successful, sought after and stunning sportswear brand at such a young age, the concept behind her designs, how it felt to be part of LFW and where she sees this ‘fashionably fit’ frenzy going.
Did you always know during your time at Kingston University that you wanted to design a sportswear brand?
It was towards the end of my first year at Kingston – I was helping one of the third year student’s with their sport-luxe menswear collection and thought I need to be doing this! By then fitness was already a massive part of my life and it made perfect sense to me not only to jump on this huge gap in the market but to consolidate my two passions through sportswear design.
Its such an achievement at such a young age to have designed, created, launched and successfully run your own business, tell us about how you made it happen and what advice you would give someone wanting to do the same?
It’s important to be super-organised and super-resilient. When you’re running a business (especially in fashion) if something can go wrong, it probably will. You need be able to stay on top of everything all the time and leave nothing to chance. Know your numbers too – being talented and creative is one thing but funding yourself beyond the first season takes serious planning and a whole lot of risk taking!
Every Instagram page, fitness article, blog, blogger page and fitness website I click on, I see Charli Cohen Sportswear. How does it feel to see all your hard work paying off and have such great response and feedback from the press and public?
It’s incredibly rewarding. Working primarily by myself, it’s really motivating to get that external validation and support for what I’m doing.
Congratulations on your LFW show, It was so endearing to see a young brand such as Charli Cohen take part in such a renowned event. We absolutely loved that you used fitness bloggers to walk, can you tell me what your reasons were behind this?
I decided to Instagram-cast for the show rather than going the traditional model agency route. I think it’s fantastic to see ‘regular’ girls without conventional fashion model measurements develop such big followings and become relatable, positive role models – I want to support that. They do of course all look incredible and in several cases, their audience has watched them get to where they are through social media – the excitement and pride of their fans once they revealed they’d been cast for the show was really touching!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The London Fashion Week show was definitely one of the biggest highlights, especially as we only had three weeks to pull it all together! The success of our 2013 Kickstarter campaign, where we raised £30k in 30 days, was also a real high point.
Where do you see the ‘ fashion fitness’ industry going over the next few years?
There’s a lot of data to support the idea that activewear is the new denim. It’s become a real wardrobe staple and both luxury brands and high street brands are introducing their own ranges, alongside premium independent brands like CC – the same way that denim exploded in the 90s and 00s. I don’t see it going away any time soon, especially as there’s so much scope for technological innovation in activewear – it’s one of the few fashion categories where it’s possible to create something completely new, especially when it comes to textiles and wearables.
The Cloudbreak Collection concept was born out of my own collection of vintage surfing photographs. I took these classic silhouettes and contemporised them – I wanted a “surfer chick comes to the city” feel. The collection is available in-store now.
A woman of many talents, you are also a personal trainer and have created a fitness and nutrition concept with Christina Howells called ‘That Girl’. Can you tell us a little more about it?
That Girl is a series of high intensity online GIF workouts and targeted nutrition plans. Christina and I understand the demands of a busy professional lifestyle and want to teach others how to balance to keeping fit and healthy even when they don’t think they have the time. We also wanted to create plans with a more fashion-conscious edge – it’s very ‘London’ and a little bit gritty.
What does the word ‘healthy’ mean to you?
That’s a big question! For me it’s about being optimised – getting the most and the best out of each day, whilst incorporating the nutrition, fitness and rest to support that.
Join Charli Cohen’s Ista army at @charlicohen and check out Charli Cohen online at http://charli-cohen.com