Curated by Highsnobiety and presented during the time period formerly known as Paris Men’s Fashion Week, “Not In Paris 2” is our second in a series of bi-annual digital exhibitions celebrating creativity in the age of remote interactions. Head here for the full series and cop our new merch via our online store.
Two years ago, Cold Laundry was just a passion project between Ola Alabi and his wife Cerise. “We didn't go to fashion school or intern at Dior or anything, but we were super into fashion. We worked in retail,” Alabi tells Highsnobiety. “We wanted to bring something to the market that we couldn't really see."
For “Not In Paris,” Cold Laundry presents “Still Escaping,” a depiction of a day at the beach, and a 12-person swing-set to crystallize the brand’s ethos of cultivating a peaceful mental state.
“I remember as a child, you had no affairs, you had no worries" Alabi explains. "It was just all about playing and having fun. We wanted to match that by creating a Cold Laundry playground where people were swinging and having fun and living life, almost carefree." The film also speaks to his personal values: "Representation is at the core of what we do and that's evident with our visuals and how we put people of color at the forefront.”
The vision saw Cold Laundry take over one million in sales in its first proper year of trading — not bad at all for a passion project. Cold Laundry was stationed in BOXPARK in Shoreditch and is now homed in its flagship store on Redchurch Street. It's a cyclical destination for Alabi, who developed an aesthetic vantage point for his embryonic label in the same neighborhood when he was younger.
“I used to be out at Brick Lane early Saturday and Sunday morning, queuing up, waiting to get my pieces," recalls Alabi. "I was a more hype sort of guy, but as I started to develop my focus and mind a bit more, I started to want to dress more grown, and that's where my love for contemporary Korean-style streetwear came from.”
The couple spent six months in South Korea researching the brand, finding suppliers and factories, which the brand still uses, in addition to factories in Portugal. “We intertwined with the culture and the fashion there" says Alabi. "Our pieces are heavily inspired by Korean fashion; clean, minimal looks with our twist on colors and cuts and shapes as well, so it derives from that sort of drop shoulder, oversized, boxy fit.”
Cold Laundry's offering of clean pieces cut through the noise of contemporary fashion, distinguishing itself with the details; the bifurcated zipped seams, matte fabrics, pleats, pastel colorways, and absent logos. The overall aesthetic is contagious — we've profiled enough Korean street style to know — but accessible. Anyone looking to get on the tracksuit to double-breasted suit pipeline need only try on the loose and oversized pistachio pants and blazers. As a modern brand that's come up in the age of Instagram, there’s a photogenic quality to the garments, too, matched by the brand's glowing visuals, which deliver a bit of mental respite in trying times.
While Cold Laundry seeks out a restful state of mind for both itself and its customers, starting a brand from scratch is not without some setbacks, as Alabi discovered. Expansion and rapid growth can be a double-edged sword: “We weren't ready for that sort of growth, the customer service was absolutely horrendous at times," he notes.
“We did see a dip last year because of that," he continues. "People didn't really understand that we were so new. Sometimes they don't know that they’re buying from a brand that's only got three people working and we have an influx of orders so we can't handle it. They think we're just taking the piss," says Alabi, “We've got an army of customer service reps now though.”
Now that Cold Laundry has weathered the growing pains of a brand that hit the ground running, it's well positioned to become the next IYKYK brand in London. "I always knew my calling was to do this. I had a clear vision. I'm living out what I've always wanted to do as a kid. I don't know if I'd been manifesting it as a kid or if I just got lucky, but this is what I've always wanted to do, so I feel massive fulfillment."
Cold Laundry is available on their webstore.