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This summer, Coco Shop — the 1950s-era Antiguan-based apparel brand — is breathing new life into historical silhouettes with its collection of bright, retro-inspired resortwear that makes you *feel* like you’re already on vacation. The collection is chockablock full of colors, including prints of Pink and Coral Bougainvillea, Orange Checkerboard, and Blue Fish Net, paying homage to the storied heritage of a cozy, coconut brown storefront in St. John’s, Antigua — the inspiration for the company’s name. Led by Taylor Simmons, the designer and owner, Coco Shop is a 75-year-old heritage brand with a vestige of vintage and reminds you of the joy of vacation. We had the opportunity to connect with Taylor and learn a bit more about Coco Shop’s storied past.
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Q: Tell me what Coco Shop is all about — and what’s the backstory on the name?!
A: Coco Shop is all about simple, cotton clothing in sunny, hand-drawn prints — if you live in or are traveling somewhere warm, Coco Shop should be in your closet or suitcase. Founded in Antigua in 1949 as a place for Antiguan artists to sell their work, they graduated from a craft table to a coconut brown storefront in St. John’s, Antigua, where the company got its name. It was literally the coco brown shop – Coco Shop.
Q: Walk me through your path to creating Coco Shop.
A: I grew up with Coco Shop, and my father grew up with Coco Shop before me. His parents were neighbors and friends of the founders on the island. After Bloomingdale’s Executive Program and business school, I started asking questions about Coco Shop’s future. The family was thrilled that someone they knew might take it on.
In the beginning, I separated Coco Shop’s qualities into ‘can change’ and ‘can’t change.’ Coco Shop is beloved for its cotton and prints, so those were fundamental to keeping Coco Shop’s core intact and could not change. It was not known for any one silhouette, so this is where I’ve made it my own. The company did not keep archives, so I asked the community who knew the brand to reach into their closets and photo albums to put the prints back together. From that base, I’ve recreated Coco Shop – I’m keeping it as close to its origins as possible while also moving it forward.
Q: What does Coco Shop do differently than other fashion brands
A: We do resortwear differently. I find resortwear to be typically shapeless or revealing — one of two extremes — but I am making structured, thoughtful silhouettes, all meant to be worn a lot and washed a lot.
At the same time, we are of one place – Antigua – and give homage to the past while giving back to our place. Together, it makes for a one-of-a-kind brand.
Q: How do you want your customers to feel wearing Coco Shop?
A: I want customers to feel confident and comfortable. In Coco Shop, I hope women find the clothing they reach for day and night, the clothing they don’t work hard to style, and clothing they know no one else will show up in. I hope wearing Coco Shop brings customers joy.
Q: The Coco Shop color palette relies on these incredibly warm and playful patterns; it just oozes vacation and sand-in-your toes. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A: Sand in your toes is the goal. The prints were all hand-drawn by one of Coco Shop’s founders throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Except for his one geometric print, they are all what he saw around him – tropical fish, frangipani and bougainvillea flowers, limes, coconut trees, Antiguan town outlines, etc. I have recolored the prints and I have combined prints, but I’ve only made one of my own so far. I’m sure there will be more to come, all inspired by what I see on the island.
Q: What’s next for you — and for Coco Shop?
A: My husband and I just had our first baby — a daughter — so we’re figuring out how to navigate this next step. I think we’ll be trying to figure it out for a while! For Coco Shop, I am fixated on the idea of having a store in Antigua again, so I am beginning to think through what that might look like and what I need to do to get there. Both wonderful and exciting things.