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An interview with Wilson Lam and Enrico Hernandez, founders of designer brand COCHI

London based COCHI, an up and coming brand is the brainchild of the power duo comprising of Wilson and Enrico. After both of them graduated from university, they decided to push forward in realising their combined high-school dream of bringing their unique take on style to consumers. The pair felt the need to bring something totally different and appealing to our creative sides. Blown away by the fashion scene in Hong Kong, they felt that Britain could do with a fashion revamp. 

COCHI BLACK X WHITE TEES are their current line, demonstrating a clever use of the two colours, espousing originality and a mishmash of East Asian influences. Wilson’s graphical visionary direction and background in design go well with Enrico’s entrepreneurialism and business acumen. What’s extra special about their brand is that not only is it wearable and fresh, it’s got the flair and soul of two best friends ready to take on the fashion industry at large.

Partners in crime

Nee Hao’s Yinsey Wang talks to the pair to learn more about how they get their creative juices going and what they perceive as their brand culture.  

What or who is your greatest design inspiration?

Hmm… that’s a hard one! As the two of us have different answers, we decided to both conclude that it would have to be East Asian culture/lifestyle, whether those experiences are sourced from growing up with anime or travelling to the East. We always feel surges of inspiration; even from East Asian companies’ packaging on food products! The most important thing that inspires us about East Asian design culture is the attention to detail that they have to their products (especially in Japan); the pride that they have; and that the quality in their execution on all their products are unmatched.

What do you think is the hallmark of a great design? What is the most powerful design you’ve encountered?

We believe it is the quality of the design that is most significant. It could be the simplest one to the most detailed; what matters is if the execution and development is carefully thought through. This is the winning recipe.

After a long talk about the greatest design we’ve encountered, we have decided on a very weird object. Not so much a fashion object (not even close, actually!) but it would have to be a samurai sword. Reason being is that the amount of pride and care which is taken into forging one is admirable. It has a delicate and simplistic design to it, but it still takes years and years to master the correct techniques. It has been said that even the sharpening and polishing process takes just as long as the forging of the blade itself. Crazy and inspiring!

What is the vision behind the brand?

The vision behind the brand is pretty simple; it is the same as the reasons we started it! We wanted to make some nice looking clothes and we wanted other people to like them too. Focusing on detail and quality, we want to produce clothes/accessories/fun things that almost anyone would like to wear. Whether it is just one of the products that we have, or a few, COCHI is suitable for anyone. Our aims include keeping the clothing line exclusive by having a limited run on each design, making COCHI less predictable, and ensuring that the fan base remains  close to us to create an ever-growing community.

Describe your brand using just three words.

Weird, minimal, and exclusive.

What does fashion mean to your team?

We believe fashion is very important as it’s a primary way to express yourself. From what you like to what you want to be part of, fashion and your choice of garments say a lot about you and sets everyone’s first impressions.

Comment on today’s fashion industry. What challenges do you feel are ahead and what promising opportunities do you think there are out there?

Thanks to social networking and the ever growing branches of fashion “styles”, there’s so much diversity in the fashion industry. It’s easier for people to make clothes (even if they have no experience; it all starts with a sketch) and get noticed, thanks to all those networking options people have.

In terms of challenges ahead, it’s about competing amongst other brands and making sure not to sway from our original vision and our design style whilst not being influenced too heavily to follow the “next best thing”. At the same time, however, it’s great that we are being constantly pushed to come up with something different and distinguish ourselves from other innovative lines.

Name a famous person that you’d love to have model for your brand. Why?

We’ll love it if Pharrell Williams from N.E.R.D modelled our stuff. He has a great understanding of East Asian culture as he loves it himself, and also he has his own line “Billionaire Boys” which has a slightly similar ethos. That guy oozes style and dare I say it “swag”! Haha. We’ve followed him since his early days up until his recent “I AM OTHER” channel/cultural movement. He has a great sense of style.

What support have you received in launching your line?

The backstory regarding the support we’ve received is pretty cliché! We’ve gotten help from family members offering design advice to friends spreading some love on social networks for us. Indeed, this has all helped us grow and developed us into what we are today. Other lines and experienced people in the London clothing industry have given us some words of advice too! So, we want to give serious thanks to them; we received valuable insight into what we were getting ourselves into. Of course, that was back when we were still wet behind the ears!

Describe your working relationship with your team.

We are a team of two and have been best friends since we were kids. We’re actually more like brothers that just crack a bit too many jokes when we should be working harder! But on a serious note, we are a pretty good match. One is a business whiz with creative blood, and the other is a creative beast with business blood.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve designed?

Haha, the weirdest thing that we’ve designed was the first ever COCHI character, which was a TV with a face, and octopus tentacles coming out of him as hands. Can’t believe we were going to start COCHI with that character years ago before we refined it… what were we thinking?

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