This is the first in a series of mini-posts I’m planning to run in response to the reader survey. I’m going to give you the lowdown on a specific UK retailer each Tuesday and pull out their strengths. The intention is that you’ll have an edit on what to buy, from where, and why. I’m starting with Cos because it’s a brand turnaround that I’ve been watching closely. So here we go, Cos review – retailer spotlight, let me tell you more.

Cos – brand background in a nutshell

Disclosure: as with the majority of blogs, products featured on Midlifechic sometimes (but not always) include affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase, you are helping to support the site because a small referral commission may be paid. This contributes towards hosting fees, software costs, site maintenance and other plug-ins. Midlifechic could not exist without these small payments, so every contribution makes a big difference.


Cos is launched in the UK by the H&M group intended to be their premium offering in a tiering that also includes, Arket, Weekday, Stories and Monki. Initially it sees huge growth in bricks and mortar terms but is slow to develop a good Ecommerce model. As consumer sales start to move online in the 2010s, it falls behind more nimble retail groups.


The newspaper Metro publishes allegations of inappropriate behaviour of a member of the senior management team towards junior staff members, said to have long gone unheeded by HR and Cos top management. Allegations include sexual harassment and endemic racism towards particular junior team members.


Industry bible Business of Fashion follows this up with a shattering review and more detailed expose of the brand’s subculture…

Cos review - retailer spotlight

Three senior executives depart and a new MD, Lea Rytz Goldman, comes over from Arket. She is tasked with a turnaround of both the brand’s internal culture and the dwindling revenue. She sets about tackling the internal issues around culture and diversity as well as refining the brand offering. The summer of 2023 is where a new product approach becomes visible.

Why did Cos take such a nosedive in sales during the 2010s?

When Cos first launched in 2007 it was known for offering sleek designer styles at an affordable pricepoint. As we’ve already discussed, Cos put their full attention into bricks and mortar stores and were much slower than other high street brands to build a strong and efficient online channel. Adding to that, the overarching style aesthetic changed very quickly when fashion swung towards maximalism. This was largely in response to Alessandro Michele’s 2015 Gucci collection which underpinned the desire driven by Instagram for dramatic looks. Cos was simply too understated for the grid, its styles didn’t pop enough.

In 2023 Cos seems to be finding a sweet spot, continuing with a strong focus on architectural cut but introducing much more colour to give people the impact they crave. Goldman’s key retail focuses were initially said to be activewear, cashmere and sustainability. This was stated when she first started in 2020 but now that the rush to activewear that happened over lockdown has abated, it seems to have been quietly retired. Cos cashmere however goes from strength to strength and in my opinion is at the absolute top of the high street.


Good On You, the ethical brand ratings app and website last assessed Cos in Feb 22 with an ‘it’s a start’ rating, raising particular questions about the lack of information about labour rights in the supply chain. Cos appears to be making headway towards its headline 2025 sustainability mission. You can read all about it here. A particularly good feature on the website is clear sustainability information on each page at a product level so that you can check fabric and sourcing information before you add a piece to your basket. This is much further than most high street brands go.

Cos review – retailer spotlight – the lowdown

Cos review - retailer spotlight

So let me talk you through my Cos top 10 right now. I’ll just add that even though it’s now mid-October, there’s still quite a bit of full priced summer stock on site which is odd. The selection of AW dresses is currently very limited which is a shame because there are usually highly wearable and washable workhorses amongst them.

COS review – top 10 AW23

Core Cos strengths – knitwear

1. High neck cashmere jumpers

I’m starting with cashmere because it’s so good. You can see an old shot of me wearing one of my Cos cashmere classics at the top, it’s permanent stock, I’ve had mine for three years now and it washes and wears beautifully (you can find it here). Cos cashmere is thicker and heavier than most high street brands and softer too. It can cost up to 50% more but so many of you said you’re buying less but better and willing to pay more for high quality in the survey that I don’t hesitate to recommend it. The style on the right has the perfect neckline for making your neck appear longer and your face slimmer. It has great raglan sleeves and also comes in navy, camel and natural. In my experience Cos knitwear is oversized so if you like a neater fit, size down. You can see the complete range of Cos cashmere here.

2. Simple merino jumpers

If cashmere’s too heavy for you, Cos do great merino options too, certified by RWS as unmulesed. This simple layering jumper is a great price, it comes in eight different colours and it’s machine washable.

3. Perfect cotton tops

If you prefer not to wear any kind of wool then there are breathable cotton tops too in beautifully structured shapes. The one on the right is great value, utterly simple, made from organic cotton and available in ten colours including stripes.

Core Cos strengths – trousers & jeans

4. Wool trousers

Now I confess I haven’t tried these but they’re every fashion editor’s favourite – pleated wide leg trousers in 100% traceable wool with a cotton lining, they have a hidden adjustable tab so that you can amend the fit. There are four colours available including bright pink.

5. Straight leg jeans

It’s really hard to find a straight (not slim or skinny) leg jean for an AW23 wardrobe update that isn’t too long – I know because I’m looking. These have just arrived and they could be perfect, they’re available in the chic holy grail of a dark wash as well as a mid-blue or black and they’re made from a blend of organic and recycled cotton.

6. Coats

Now I suspect the main coat drop is still to come because the choice isn’t as wide as usual but just look at this dream piece. In dreams it will have to stay because of the price and also because it’s already sold out but it’s just arrived in brown leather which is just as beautiful. Responsible leather, certified by the Leather Working Group.

Cos core strengths – accessories

7. New necklaces

As we start to move away from the very fine necklaces of the last few years to more statement styles, this is a really easy, reasonably priced way to bridge the two looks. Cos has always done amazing jewellery at a decent price, it’s the architectural look that you see on well dressed women in TV dramas and wonder about. This necklace has understated, eye-catching chic and it’s also available in gold.

8. The earring of the season

Elevated studs rather than hoops or drop earrings are a quick way to update your look this season. This teardrop style is the key shape for Aw 23, also available in silver.

Cos core strength – socks & tights

9. Fancy socks

An often overlooked detail, Cos has a good sock collection. I’ve pulled out a lurex one here because they’re great with loafers at this time of year when the cold starts to bite but I bought my favourite soft boot socks from Cos last year too. You can see the full selection here.

Cos review - retailer spotlight

Fine lurex ankle socks (four colours available)

10. Beautiful but comfortable lingerie

Lingerie that’s beautiful isn’t always comfortable but Cos seem to have managed to work the two together. They have a really good range of silk satin like the bra that I’ve shown to the right as well as organic cotton and even unpadded mesh bras if you’re a fan of those like I am, all at reasonable prices. You can see the full collection here.

I hope this ‘Cos review – retailer spotlight’ has been useful and given you a little more insight into one of our leading mid-market brands. I’d say they’re one to watch and I really hope they get things as right for the new AW season as they did in summer. There’s a wide open space in the market for simple but beautifully designed clothing in sustainable fabrics at an affordable price. If you like this retailer spotlight series, I’ll continue it on Tuesdays whenever I have the time to write. I’ve disabled the comments for this post just while I get used to the new pace so please let me know on Friday if you found it helpful and if there are any points you’d like to share on Cos.

Disclosure: Cos review – retailer spotlight is not a sponsored post

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    Disclosure: as with the majority of blogs, products featured on Midlifechic sometimes (but not always) include affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase, you are helping to support the site because a small referral commission may be paid. This contributes towards hosting fees, software costs, site maintenance and other plug-ins. Midlifechic could not exist without these small payments, so every contribution makes a big difference.