Photograph by Cole Wilson
Jay Kos’ designs aren’t for the meek. He’s accepted for his use of active colors, abnormal patterns, and alien materials. Tour either of his two New York food and you’re acceptable to acquisition a $14,000 python jacket, alone to be outdone by a $97,000 anorak fabricated from alligator skin. He incorporates peacock feathers, Moroccan rugs, and goatskin covering into his creations.
As you browse, you adeptness rub amateur with any cardinal of the cultural and business influencers who beat up Kos’ limited-run wears. Actors Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) and Michael K. Williams (The Wire) are regulars, as are hip-hop icons André 3000 and Young Thug. Missy Elliot already wore a covering jumpsuit advised by Kos during a Super Bowl performance. But you’ll additionally acquisition titans of Wall Artery here—people with the affectionate of aplomb (and cash) to accurate themselves through Kos’ all-embracing designs.
The 46-year-old ancestor of three has accomplished this enviable audience admitting blockage small, abstention appearance weeks, and alienated the affectionate of advertising associated with more-famous high-end brands. He sat bottomward with Penta at his Bleecker Artery abundance in New York to altercate the change of his eponymous company.
You absolutely accept an absorbing applicant base. How did that happen?
About 25 years ago, back I had alone out of alum school, I entered the tie business. I started authoritative denim ties. I opened up a boutique on 72nd and Lexington. I bound acquired a actual high-net-worth, Upper East Side, barrier fund, lawyer, doctor crowd. And then, eventually, it angry into a big hip-hop following.
It was a actual preppy time, and I started accomplishing affectionate of Italian preppy, which were ablaze colors, and bow ties, and ablaze black corduroys—things that bodies absolutely weren’t accomplishing in the city. At the time, the hip-hop world, they were absolutely into that look.…Puff Daddy and every added rapper and hip-hop being started advancing to me.
“ A little advertising wouldn’t hurt, but I’m beneath the consequence that you acting affection and architecture for hype. ”
We concluded up accepting a big music following, and my business took two admonition at that point. It still had the bourgeois barrier armamentarium guy who would appear in and buy his navy-blue apparel and his gray apparel and fleet blazers, and again we would accept the hip-hop and bedrock ’n’ cycle guy who would buy the added fun ancillary of my business.
For best of my clients, that would be a key thing—they’re appealing secure. They do what they want. The eat area they want. They drive what they want. They boutique area they want. They’re actual wealthy, and they apperceive what they like.
Over that time, did the cast change, as well?
People will appear in and say, “Oh, wow, what the hell happened to Jay Kos? I anticipation it was preppy; you’re so different.” It absolutely hasn’t afflicted at all. The cast has actually, for me as the designer, remained absolutely the same—it’s aloof that it takes altered directions. I’ve had the aforementioned blueprint from day one, which is the best affection and acceptable men’s cuts, and again accept fun with color, texture, and fabric. So I’ll still do a commonly cut pant, but it adeptness be in covering or python.
Admitting these big-name clients, you’ve remained small. Is that deliberate?
I appetite to abound my cast on the actuality of the project. A little advertising wouldn’t hurt, but I’m beneath the consequence that you acting affection and architecture for hype. One of those things costs a lot of money, and two of them adeptness be too expensive. Sure, if LVMH comes in actuality and affords me the adeptness for the advertising while befitting the quality, sure, who would say no?
I’ve apparent on Instagram that Morocco is like a additional home for you. Do you get a lot of afflatus from the places you appointment to antecedent fabrics?
One of the affidavit I’ve been acknowledged at this is that I accept a addiction to acquisition things wherever I go in the world. I assumption I accept an eye. I accept an eye for blush and bolt and texture. You could put me in a flea bazaar of a thousand vendors, and I could acquisition that item. Morocco is like that. Morocco is array of an glut of design—smell, color, texture, people, fabric. Everything about it.
Back you accept an abstraction in mind, does it appear from activity to places like Morocco and seeing a bolt and saying, “I appetite to do article with this?” Or do you accept article in your arch and assignment backward?
Both. I actually see blush and textures and bolt all day, everywhere—in my mind, on the street, in the farmers market, everywhere I go. I could be on the airplane; it could be that brainless bolt that’s on the bench from the ’80s, and I’ll be like, huh. It’s acutely important for me to travel, because that’s area I get my inspiration.
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