Charli Cohen is a petit blonde power force to be reckoned with, even though she is only 23. We have met in the beginning of the year for a chat and after an hour spent in her company I walked away with a wonderful sense of marvel at how someone so young can have such a mature head on her shoulders when it comes to running her life and her business.
For Charli fashion was always the plan, somehow deep inside she knew she was destined to work within it, but her fitness aspirations kicked in later, when she was in her teens, so by the time Charli was going to Kingston University, she knew that both were very important to her. Even at that tender age she knew that she needed to have proper qualifications to be taken seriously. By the time Graduation Week has arrived Charli’s esthetic was formed and even though she didn’t win the top award, she got the attention of the fashion press and Lycra offered to sponsor her with materials.
With Lycra’s mentoring as well, Charli was able to start her own sportswear label sooner that she expected and her The Vis Collection was previewed in July of this year. With meticulous research into fabrics and its qualities, as well as running a business and label’s infrastructure, no obstacle was going to get in the way of Charli’s determination ( Spring/Summer Collection is due to be presented in February 2014). Her premium, UK-made, technical sportswear collection bridges the gap between high-performance function and high-end fashion. As well as running her own business, Charli also writes her own blog, blogs for Huffington Post and offers nutritional and fitness consultancy to both men (about 30%) and women (70%) ( her initial client base started from the US) via e-mail and Skype. Charli looks at her customer’s needs realistically and takes into account their lifestyle and needs. Not bad for someone who is still very young.
It is Charli’s conscious choice to manufacture her luxe sportswear line in the UK (the factory that manufactures Charli’s pieces also works with established British designers like Erdem and Victoria Beckham) while her fabrics, which are technical polyamide, are sourced from Italy. They are anti-bacterial, they draw sweat away from the body and they don’t loose colour as you wash them) and to run a truly British brand. There are 12 designs in the current collection, with some coming in two colour combinations. You can choose from a parka, a hooded jacket, a shorter jacket version, sweatshirts, two types of leggings, an oversized t-shirt, a bra, tank tops, track pants and long-sleeved tops.
I have seen the presentation of Charli’s collection at the intimate yet very modern gym The Library in July and for the first time I actually saw sportswear pieces that didn’t ride up as the girls (models) did various sports demonstration with the in-house gym instructor. From doing yoga to boxing Charli’s pieces stayed put and the girls looked luxuriously glamorous even when they broke sweat on their faces.
The fabrics are tactile, epitomising the luxury sportswear end of the market, highly practical and all of the items, even the parka, are machine washable. The fabrics that Charli chooses for her designs are made from the so-called ‘brushed’ fabrics, so they feel comfortable and ‘lived in’ thus you will feel equally at home in them when you workout or do a school run.
It was a conscious choice for Charli to make her first collection more commercial than her graduate one. When I asked her what inspired this collection, she told me that it was inspired by people and their movement during their training. She paid attention where gussets and seams were for ease of movement, she researched to the minor detail how to put panels in so they are ‘color blocking’ in a flattering way and she zeroes on the muscles shapes and paneling in order to design pieces that would have a slimming effect.
With all of the above said, don’t think for a minute that it has been an easy road so far. Charli travels to London all the time, presenting her collection, raising her profile via the social media and working on various creative collaborations. Her feet don’t seem to touch the ground and yet I have never seen her moan or complain about the difficulties along the way. Being a young designer in particular isn’t easy, in the market that is already saturated and very competitive (and while there is plenty of press interest already, when it comes to fashion and stockists, it is almost unheard of to be offered a concession until you present at least your third collection) and for now Charli hasn’t got a place to showcase her collection, so brave and daring as she is, she bit the bullet and launched herself into the Crowd Funding Initiative called The CC Effect Campaign (you might have already seen in on Facebook and Twitter).
Her goal is to launch a pop-up shop in Central London so she can showcase to real perfection her debut collection. Customers, as well as buyers, potential investors and the press would be able to have an opportunity to have a fun shopping experience.
Charli’s CC Effect Kickstarter is half way through its run of 30 days ( she needs to raise a minimum of £30,000) and by shopping the full limited edition Charli Cohen range, with specific exclusives, VIP event tickets & perfect Christmas gifts-after all a lot of us start the new year with fitness resolutions, thus making it a perfect and practical gift that is bound to help achieve results. With every single purchase you are getting Charli to fulfill her dream and more importantly, her potential. You are not making a donation, you are doing what Charli coined ‘SHOP to SUPPORT’. Goodies designed by Charli start from £5 and go up to £5000 but if Charli doesn’t reach her 30k target, all backers will have their pledges returned to them. In actual fact by making a purchase you are really joining the force that will make this particular small British sportswear brand take off and who knows what interesting developments can happen further away.
To learn more about Charli, her sportswear collection and CC Effect Kickstarter, check out the link below:
THE CC EFFECT KICKSTARTER LINK
photoes are courtesy of Charli Cohen