Maria Falbo of Copson London
Photography: Laurence Tooley
London is dead, apparently. Young ‘creatives’ – whatever that term means – are fleeing in their droves, in search of new citadels where rent has yet to reach the strangling heights of the capital. Berlin, Lisbon, Barcelona, anywhere just anywhere that will provide some financial respite, a space to truly breathe and be creative, which they can gradually erode with the same pulled-pork dogma that ruined London…
But despite such hyperbole from cultural commentators and pseudo-subversive publications, London is very much alive. It remains bubbling with fresh ideas and people just making shit happen. Maria Falbo is certainly one of them. The London-based designer admits that she also harbours a desire to live somewhere a little bit warmer and a tad less suffocating, but knows it isn’t that simple.
Sat outside a bar on a swelteringly hot summer day – at least for a Glaswegian like myself – she explains how her brand, Copson, helps provide respite from her London surroundings. “I used to spend all my summers just skating and travelling the world. So when we started as a blog (entitled Copson Street), we were travelling loads so it was all tropical and sunshine-y because we were living that,” says Falbo. “I guess now we’re in London, Copson is a bit of an escapism thing, back to that time.”
The initial Copson Street blog began in 2009, when Falbo and her cohorts were living in Barcelona. But it quickly evolved into something much greater, and as some of her collaborators fell away, Copson Street soon became a purer distillation of Falbo’s outlook. Since, the brand has been re-named Copson London – a sardonic nod to London’s often grim, grey aesthetic – and has picked up a select number of off-beat stockists, from Latvia’s ITK store to Japanese nich-conglomerate Beams.
Quite quickly you realise that Maria is not your typical London girl – or even British girl, for that matter. Sat in a small fish and chips spot a few weeks later – this time in Glasgow – my friend asks her the same question as I had few weeks previous: “so where are you from?” Like I, she expected a more tropical response than Dorset. “But my family is from Italy” she adds, understanding why we both assumed that her sallow skin was not simply the result of London’s summertime sunshine.
It was in the same town that Falbo’s family came from that Copson’s most recent promo-film “A Young Summer’s Heart” was set, which received widespread acclaim for both its authenticity and its sheer beauty. The short film told the tale of an almost-awkward teenage love story between a young skater from Copenhagen and a local girl. Released by Nowness earlier this year, was an extension of the idyllic, sun-kissed lifestyle that Maria had previously spoken about – and for those six minutes, it was difficult not to briefly yearn for that.
“I go there (Calabria) every summer and every time I’m there, I’m like ‘fuck! this is untouched magic.’ You know Rommano?” she asks – I don’t. “He directed the video. I’ve always loved his work, and we just met over Negronis at the end of last year. He was like, ‘I love your Club Copson hats and I have this idea to shoot something in Italy and the waiter will have like the hat on blah blah blah.’ And then we just combined ideas and started working from there.”
“The feedback was really good – even from the skate community which I thought would be like, ‘uugh whats this?’ cause it’s not your typical VHS skate video – but even my friends who are skaters were like yeah this is fresh.” Despite her skate-roots, Falbo insists that Copson is not a skate brand, even if it doesn’t shy away from associations with her past-life. “Skating is a massive influence on me, but only a tiny bit of the whole Copson picture – it’s not everything to us.”
Despite this, there has never been a better time to present a pastel-palette mix of sportswear and menswear staples, that will appeal to a broad cross-section of people – even skaters. I ask Falbo why she thinks this is the case. “Skaters all look a bit more camp now, whereas before it was more laddish. I think people like Alex Olson have really influenced that. Now skaters are happy to wear a pink t-shirt. Thank god, finally. He has a voice to be able to influence kids that needed influencing – traditionally skateboarding was so homophobic.”
Talk soon turns back to the weather – not in the form of a conversational lull, but just how do you translate Copson’s sun-kissed aesthetic into a winter collection? The answer is, you can’t. “We’re not going to bother with winter, to be honest. We’ll do little fun things, but mainly we’re just going to do summer collections. There’s no point in us trying to do a thermal coach jacket.” Such a commitment to staying true to the brand’s nature is certainly admirable, and seems to derive directly from Falbo’s own personal outlook. Copson is, after all, fun – it’s vibrant, colourful, relaxed… “I think that’s really important for us, the brand culture, it has to be good vibes,” she says. “Even in London we’re all trying to live well and not work too hard. People work too hard here.”