Kokon To Zai, the venerable Soho London boutique started by Marjan Pejoski and Sasko Besovski has been selling needle moving, cutting edge brands since its inception in 1996. From the beginning streetwear from the likes of Jeremy Scott, Bernhard Wilhelm,Gareth Pugh,Casette Playa,W<, among other seminal brands dominated the store’s constantly changing merchandise. The beat of the tiny concept boutique relied on leading edge 90′s and Noughties dance music that sold alongside the clothing and accessories. Fast Forward 15 years and the Kokon To Zai enterprise has grown to 3 boutiques and their own booming KTZ line, the one-to-catch right now in the streetwear market. We spoke to Sasko Besovski about the social networking play, the Kanye effect and why he thinks they’re blowing up now.
JCR: What did you set out to do with the first Kokon To Zai Greek Street store when it opened in 1996?
KTZ: We wanted to create a new movement through a music creative space which offered fresh ideas to lifestyle. It became a meeting place for people to gather with unique artistic interests.
JCR: Was your interest in fashion to be retailers or designers?
KTZ: I was an entrepreneur driven by developing successful business, whereas Marjan was more interested in artistic solutions and design.
JCR: KTZ is at the center of a community that’s innovating a new streetwear and casual wear movement. Describe the movement as you see it.
KTZ: The KTZ brand is heavily influenced by street culture, so it’s rewarding to see that it’s reflected in people mirroring our ethos. It’s interesting to see the evolution over the years, which again is pivotal in the KTZ design process.
JCR: Was KTZ identity as a brand purposefully designed around a casual identity or did a trend lead you there?
KTZ: KTZ is like the birth-child of Kokon To Zai; hence the acronym, so it was made to represent youth, colour and vibrance – like a physicality of what Kokon To Zai represents; a creation inspired by art and culture. So of course with inspiration of youth in mind, we have casual, exiting and sporty ideas that still to this day echoes the KTZ pedigree.
JCR: Why now for this current sensibility?
KTZ: This is bizarre to read as the brand is anything but sensible at the current time! The brand respects traditions and world culture, but still has the freedom to explore in a playful rebellious way that stands out from conventional fashion design, which is more present than ever right now!
JCR: How has social networking directly impacted KTZ?
KTZ: A great deal, as people from around the world treat social media almost religiously – it’s almost as if we cannot live without it! Platforms such as Instagram has given us an opportunity to showcase the brand and is almost essential for every KTZ customer to keep updated, quite literally by the minute in order to see what we’re about.
JCR: Talents from Kanye West, Rihanna to Rita Ora to Wiz Kalifa to K-pop superstars have found the brand and have become loud proponents of it. How did that come about?
KTZ: It was like domino effect. Still to this day its an example of how artist respects the other artist’s work, then suddenly you’re left with the brand spreading across the field. It’s something that happened very quickly. KTZ clothing is made to be bombastic and extravagant, so you’re going to attract bombastic and extravagant individuals.
JCR: Kanye West also played a special role in the brand’s exposure; tell us about this high profile endorsement in this age of celebrity culture.
KTZ: Kanye is a visionary and has unique gift, he has a very original perspective which ties into what we’re very much about and supports everything we do, he’s a good example that represents us.
JCR: Breakdown the different identity of the three Kokon To Zai stores.
KTZ: The Soho store is like an old fashioned institution for fashion education. The Notting Hill store represents Marjan’s passion in interior design and home lifestyle. It has unique taste in original objects and curiosities. And then the Paris store is fashion establishment – it’s small store with a big heart.
JCR: You’ve collaborated in the past with the likes of Asos and Topshop in a smaller capacity, now that you’re the ones to catch, will we see greater scale collaboration in the future?
KTZ: We are working on exciting collaborations which are soon to be revealed so don’t miss the space.