Skater Maria Falbo’s Copson designs are inspired by sun-kissed Italian summers – here’s why she’s voting in on June 23rd
“I mean, it’s June and it feels like November right now,” complains Maria Falbo, founder of skate-led, “sun-kissed leisurewear brand” Copson. Sat in her East-London studio, talk of the weather is never far away – and not in the sense of a conversational lull, but because Copson acts as a tool for escapism for the ex-skater turned designer. As a brand, it is outward looking, borrowing the hues of buildings and the typography of local businesses of Calabria in Southern Italy, where Falbo’s family is from and where she spent her summers growing up.
Copson is perhaps not your typical skate-meets-streetwear label, presenting a more laid-back and perhaps delicate perspective on both cultures. They do not, for instance, produce winter collections, preferring occasional drops and capsule offerings in the colder months while they gear up for summer. Nor does the label fit the typical lo-fi gritty aesthetic of many of their Dickies-clad peers – last year, to accompany their summer collection, they released a short film via Nowness, documenting a tale of young love between a girl in Southern Italy and Villads Larsen, a skater from Copenhagen.
Naturally, for a label that has made “la dolce vita” its cornerstone, and frequently works with collaborators throughout Europe, the forthcoming EU Referendum is an unavoidable issue. “Culturally I don’t see why you’d want to cut yourself off,” Fablo says. The vote also coincides with a conscious shift in the brand’s make-up, as they move all of their production to Europe, taking a stance against some of the appalling conditions factory workers are made to operate in outside of the EU.
We sat down with Copson to discuss the EU Referendum, why fashion doesn’t necessarily need to be fast and the gradual softening of skate culture.
How did Copson come about?
Maria Falbo: The name originally came from the street we lived on at Uni, which was Copson Street in Manchester. It started originally as a Blogspot just for anything style or skate related when I was living and skating in Barcelona over the summer. We made some t-shirts and the blog got a bit of a following because we had this sort of abstract tropical aesthetic that mixed skating and house music, which at the time was a bit of a random mix of things. Now that seems to be totally normal, but back then it wasn’t.
Last year, we had a bit of a re-launch; we started making cut and sew and dropped the street, so it was just Copson. But it was still the same aesthetic – sun-kissed leisurewear.
You recently shifted all of your production to Europe, what prompted this move?
Maria Falbo: We started making our stuff in London at first because it was the easiest option for us, but all our t-shirts and jersey were made in South America. There were two reasons for the shift to made in Europe: first was my roots which are in Italy, my family is from Italy and almost all of the brand’s inspiration comes from Southern Italy like the colours of the houses, the sunsets, the fonts that they use, and how my uncles used to dress in the 80s, so for that reason we thought it was nice to take the brand back to its roots.
We thought it would be a different angle for a skate-rooted brand, or a streetwear brand (I hate that word), to focus on Made in Europe, because most of that isn’t considered – it’s all about getting it made as cheap as possible. But for us, we’re quite a niche brand, and we’ve never been about selling as much as possible because it started as a hobby. So it’s a way of giving back to Europe, the old factories and keeping some tradition alive.
“We’ve never been about selling as much as possible. (Making clothes in Europe) is a way of giving back to Europe, the old factories and keeping some tradition alive. But, more importantly, it’s about avoiding sweatshops and that culture” – Maria Falbo, Copson
But, more importantly, it’s about avoiding sweatshops and that culture. Our whole brand is about good vibes and positivity and optimism – we want that to be in every step from design to which store it goes in. We want people to feel the goodness in every angle of the brand.
The discussion around sweatshops is one that is becoming increasingly prominent. Are you hoping that other streetwear brands will follow your lead?
Maria Falbo: I’d like to hope there’s a bit of a movement going on. It feels like there is. But at the end of the day, it all depends on the company’s goals and who’s involved at the top sadly. We’re small enough to make the decision at the beginning. I mean, it’s a massive risk for us, because our price points are now quite high for the market we’re in but we hope that people understand why and want to be a part of that.
Brands are constantly churning out collections are such a speed, it feels quite refreshing that some are still willing to take their time, and release it when it’s ready or it’s good…
Maria Falbo: We struggle quite a bit with the wholesale cycle, with the scale and the numbers, so we work with retail partners who want to be a part of it… We’ll never go to tradeshows. I just disagree with all of that, it takes the fun and creativity out of it all when you just have to keep churning, churning, churning and making stuff other people want to buy rather than what you want to create. We’re trying to stick to that as much as possible but also trying to make it work as a business.
You’ve said in past interviews that Copson provides a form of escapism from London life at times, is that still the case?
Maria Falbo: Yes definitely! I guess it goes back to growing up in Italy in the summer and being a beach kid. All the images we create or colours we use, they give that feeling of wanting to be away. You get the product and it takes you away. But we’re also trying to live that lifestyle – we’ve got a mini office in Barcelona, with one of our partners working there, and we’re setting up a small studio in Southern Italy this summer. So yeah, we want to live that lifestyle too and not just be London based.
For a brand that is so tied to places in Europe, I assume you’ll be voting to remain in the EU on the 23rd. What do you think the benefits of staying in the EU are?
Maria Falbo: For us, obviously, trading and business. Particularly for small brands like us that are working with companies within Europe, we want that to be as easy as possible. But also, Britain is so special because it has a mix of so many different cultures and I don’t think we should close the door on that. I feel like there’s a bit of a fear bandwagon surrounding the whole leave campaign at the moment.
What has been your impression of the Leave campaign so far?
Maria Falbo: A lot of it feels very racist. I think people think that if we leave, we’ll be protected, and everything will be fine, but it’s not the case – it’s not that simple. Too much of it has been about fear and scaremongering, rather than actually putting forward a case from being independent of the EU.
Your background is in skating, and it’s a subculture that Copson is heavily influenced by – what was it like growing up in the subculture? And do you feel it is changing?
Maria Falbo: It has definitely changed a lot from when I first got involved – skateboarding used to be so homophobic and macho, all baggy cargo pants and beers. It has definitely got a bit more delicate and poetic, I mean skateboarders looks more like mechanics or artists these days, and they’re all ok with wearing pastel colours.
We were a bit scared when we released some pastel coach jackets three years ago and people were like, ‘woah this is a bit camp’ but skateboarding has definitely gone that way for sure, which is a good thing. I think teenagers now are educated differently, racism and homophobia are definitely decreasing.