A Room With A View: Ed Barlett, Founder, Kostüme CC

For Ed Barlett, cycling apparel doesn’t need to be boring to be functional. After the devastating shut down of exhibitions during Covid 19, affecting artists all over the UK, Ed wanted to create new spaces for artists to continue self-expression whilst reinvigorating the rapidly growing and diversifying cycling apparel market. Kostüme creates limited-release collections which are available via pre-order with the aim to reduce the environmental impact typically associated with apparel production. #Edit001 launched on April 25th, 2022, and all seems to be going well. Multi-award-winning UK op-art duo, Kai & Sunny are the first in the lineup to collaborate and you’ll most certainly stand out in a crowd. Known for their mesmeric, hand-painted line works that echo the energy, colours, and movement experienced while cycling and 50 limited edition signed, and numbered prints of the Kai & Sunny artwork will also be released at the same time. We caught up with Kostüme founder Ed Bartlett to get to grips with what a day looks like when you’re the founder of a brand new apparel brand and how Soho house isn’t the only place to swim for the cool kids of London.

Wake and Play

“As well as launching a new label I also recently co-founded a new person, which still blows my mind daily! Isaac is currently 21 weeks old and raring to go first thing in the morning (unlike his daddy.) I’ll have some lazy play with him in bed while my partner showers and dresses.”

The Daily Grind

“I am a self-confessed coffee addict, although it’s quality, not quantity for me. Kostüme just partnered with my favourite roaster, Full Court Press, to do an exclusive founders roast as a gift for our first customers, so that’s what I am currently drinking. I dare not own an espresso machine, so it’s a hand-poured V60 drip. I’ll normally limit espresso to when I am out and about. Bristol is blessed with more than its fair share of amazing coffee.”

To Me, To-Do

“At this point, I’d love to say ‘I go for my daily ride on my bike’ or at the very least do a quick session on the turbo trainer. The reality is that launching a new label doesn’t leave much time for anything else right now, so my morning workout is checking my to-do list and making sure my priorities for the day are straight. The Notion app has revolutionised the way I work, after years of flitting between different solutions.” 

Range Planning

“Even with our lean-influenced model, lead times for new Kostüme products never really drop below 9 months. I check in daily with Demi, my product technical lead at Get Stuff Made, and we’ll go through feedback on the latest samples, developments on fabrics and trims and make sure the critical path for the next 2-3 drops are updated and tracking ok. Apparel development can be a bit like a 3D jigsaw puzzle at times, except that one missing or mistimed piece can have massive ramifications.”

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

“The benefit of working from home still is that I can sneak in regular play breaks with my boy. He is busting out his first laughs at the moment, so I will probably be clowning around trying desperately to make him chuckle. It’s kind of mind-blowing to see someone learning how to laugh for the first time, and really helps you to snap briefly out of the ‘work is life’ mindset.”

Sanity Check

“My partner is a great sounding board, and as well as being mum to Isaac she’s also a Director of Marketing and Comms, so over lunch we’ll usually have a casual check-in on Kostüme whilst also taking time out for some play. Everything is a balancing act with a baby, and a business just adds to the mix.”

Outsider Thinking

“I work best under pressure, so the thought of the end of the day approaching makes me really focused. I usually spend the morning trying to clear bite-size tasks and then tackle more meaty stuff in the afternoon. Right now that means design concepts for our first non-road cycling collection, which is due for launch early next year (you heard it here first!) I’m not formally trained in product design – actually I’m technically not trained in any of this – but I think that’s partly what is resonating with our customers. So much cycling kit is derived from the constraints of racing, whereas Kostüme is developed with real-world riders and innovations in mind.”

Sink or Swim

“I live opposite an amazing old limestone quarry that has been home to a swimming club for over 100 years. It’s harder to get a membership there than Soho House, but now I’m in I usually try to get there mid-afternoon, when it’s warmest and quietest. I’ve never been good with cold water, but it’s just idyllic there and you come out feeling a million dollars.”

Content is King

“We are still in our first launch cycle, so a good chunk of the afternoon will be marketing-related. I’ll look at Instagram post plans, check customer engagement and do some creative thinking about content and partnerships. Kostüme really focuses on commissioning great content from upcoming creatives, so I will also do some research there too. Our launch film, for example, features an incredible light painter ‘Sola’ plus a brand new piece of music commissioned from electronic artist, Surgeon’s Girl.”

State of Play

“Before I finish up I will go back through Notion, move everything that hasn’t been completed to the next day, and reprioritise. I never learn, though. I always put way too much on the list, and always convince myself it’s doable. I really enjoy food and drink, so now we are past the frozen meals phase of early parenthood I will normally cook, with a glass of something on the side. As with the coffee at the start of the day, it’s always about quality, not quantity. Well, nearly always.’

Research and Relax

My partner will usually take Isaac to bed around now, so it’s a chance for me to be purely creative for an hour or two. It’s essential to take time out purely for inspiration. I’ll look at key sites and Instagram accounts to see who is doing what, with a focus on potential future artists, content commissions and also just to inform my thinking about product design and brand development. I don’t really class it as ‘work’, so it never feels like a chore. Mind you, if I’m totally honest, none of this does. I work exceptionally hard, but consider myself really fortunate to be doing something I love.

Pre-Order the Kostüme Collection Now Kostume.cc


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