Koja, a new luxury outerwear brand, launched just three months ago, but it’s already been spotted on Demi Moore and is beginning to build some buzz. Founded by Irene Zwetzich and her daughter Diana Zwetzich, the brand takes inspiration from the duo’s Kazahk heritage. Irene, a furrier expert who’s now based in Germany where the brand is manufactured, began making coats for Diana and her sister (both of whom live in New York City) a few years ago. While wearing the coats, the girls were constantly stopped on the street by curious passerby, so Diana—a project architect at L’Observatoire International—decided it was time to get down to business. We sat down with the burgeoning designer in New York to find out more.
Your brand is only a few months old, and already Demi Moore has been spotted wearing one of the coats…How did that happen?
I’m friends with stylist Evren Catlin who was doing the styling for the movie Blind. She loved the coats and asked if she could borrow them for the movie. The Daily Mail published images of Demi wearing the coat on set for a scene. Demi actually picked two coats from the collection to wear—she kept the gray shearling one.
And there’s fur too?
Yes, we carry lambskin fur coats. We moved to Germany when I was a teenager, but wearing fur and shearling coats is something that’s a bigger part of the Kazahk culture.
Where do you get your fabrics?
We source our materials from Italy and Spain. Italy makes the best quality Toscana shearling whereas the Spanish are masters in Merino shearlings. We also really care about how the animals are treated, and unlike fox fur, for instance, these animals are raised first and foremost as a food source. They are free range and they aren’t injected with hormones.
What’s the price point?
The calfskin leather coats range from $2,100 to $2,400 and the shearlings are $1,600 or $1,700, which is relatively inexpensive for the quality. We’ll be adding two new shearlings come January.
What makes the quality better?
A shearling jacket from Acne is around $2,800 and they source their materials from Turkey. We source all of our fabrics from Italy or Spain and produce in Germany so everything is done to the best quality. We don’t cut corners on price, but we are still able to offer coats at a lower price than most established fashion brands. We work with the best tanneries. They sell to Gucci, Prada, and other high-end luxury brands.
What textural qualities make for a good shearling coat?
It’s softer, it’s lighter, but it’s very warm.
What does Koja mean?
Koja is the Russian word for leather.
Where are they sold?
Right now we are selling directly to consumers on our website KojaNYC.com. We don’t want to move into retailers just yet, because they’ll mark up the price. There are brands that are using lesser quality fabrics and marking it up three times as high, but we want to be fair to our customers in regards to quality and price.
How big is the collection?
We started with four coats and just added two more. Our business model is more like Everlane; we are vertically integrated so it’s easier to come out with new things fast. These coats are the type of thing you could own for your whole life, so we don’t want it to be seasonal. The classic designs will support that.