As LA-based premium basics brand Cotton Citizen makes its UK debut with a Selfridges exclusive, Drapers speaks to its founder and creative director Adam Vanunu to find out more about the brand
Adam Vanunu headshot
Adam Vanunu grew up surrounded by the world of clothing, watching and working at his family’s premium denim manufacturer based in Los Angeles. In 2012, the family set up its own brand, Cotton Citizen, focusing on producing high-quality jersey basics. Since then, the brand has become known for its premium jersey and leisurewear – with the Aspen tracksuit and hoodie set to be bestsellers.
The entire collection is taken from concept to finished product in the family-run LA factory, where 150 people are employed across the denim manufacturer and the brand. In March, Cotton Citizen launched into the UK exclusively at Selfridges, with a collection that ranges from £70 for a cotton T-shirt to £350 for a cropped denim jacket. Vanunu tells Drapers what drove the family to set up a brand and how it has developed in its first few years of life.
How did you first become interested in fashion?
Fashion is really something that our family has been servicing for a long time. It has been manufacturing denim in Los Angeles for 30 years, working with premium denim brands, including J Brand. We’ve always been really hands on with the product making and we’re really involved with the production – we do everything from fabric to washing to fit.
Photo jul 19, 2 09 01 am
Why did you launch Cotton Citizen?
When we launched Cotton Citizen in LA in 2012, we felt there was a lack of premium T-shirts. We wanted to build a brand that didn’t compete with the [denim] clients we service but corresponds with what they’re doing. We started off with just basics but, from that, the brand transitioned as people wanted more and more product from us – diifferent fits and styles. Now we’re having to create content and a lifestyle around the brand, and now there is a really strong community of supporters, brand ambassadors and people who really help us tell the story of what Cotton Citizen is.
How do you describe the brand?
Our customers vary from those who want everything from a black T-shirt that you live in day to day, to those who want to wear a fully bright sweatsuit. The brand can really blend through a person’s entire life. They’re modern basics. A lot of the pieces are very versatile in terms of when and where you can wear them.
Tell us about your store in LA’s Melrose place.
The LA store opened a year and a half ago. People thought we were crazy when we opened in this tiny store but it is in a neighbourhood street where we grew up and it’s part of us. It’s where we’ve been going to get coffee for the past 10 years, it’s where we hang out. It’s such a local spot for us. We wanted to create something that is very experience driven. It’s our own gallery, our creative space. We can test both product and ideas there.
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How have you brought the LA vibe to your new Selfridges space?
It’s really about the pieces we have here. We have vintage-inspired, distressed T-shirts, and that’s so part of the Californian lifestyle. Jeans and T-shirts are California.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you set up Cotton Citizen?
We knew how to make a product, we didn’t know how to build a brand. That’s very different. We learned on the way, but there was no guidance. When we started out, the industry was at the beginning of this whole digital transition, a new revolution on how to build a brand. Brands can pop up overnight now. It’s a completely different business these days.
What advice would you offer to others building a brand online?
Be very up to date on social media – in terms of how you navigate it and how you make the best use of it. Always keep a lot of new content ready. You have to keep giving consumers something fresh.
Favourite clothing brand
Favourite places to shop
Last fashion purchase
A Sacai shirt
Last book you read
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Last film you watched
The Shape of Water
Assistant wash developer
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Relaxing at home