“Koshi is all about ladies on the look out for what’s next,” says Joanna DeVoe, creator of iluvkoshi.com, a web-boutique specializing in indie labels. She founded koshi in 2003 with the launch of a paper zine, “koshi is… too cool for school”, and has watched her company evolve to include the production of koshi panties, tees and one of a kind illustrated handbags, as seen in Redbook magazine and on the WB’s “What I Like About You,” with iluvkoshi.com moving from it’s roots as an illustrated fashion monthly to become a full scale boutique featuring the work of independent designers like Redder Betty, Luka and Minnie Wilde.
Today’s fashionable woman sees the personalized style of stars like Gwen Stefani, Kate Moss, and Cameron Diaz and wants to create an individual look of her own, often turning to second-hand shops and independent designers to create that special mix. DeVoe understands this need to be original. “Life is not a Gap commercial”, she says. “Women really want to stand out now, and the internet’s somewhat level playing field means that the more unique pieces by new emerging designers, once only found in a few hip metro locales, are suddenly accessible.
One of the most attractive things about indie fashion is its ability to set you apart from your average girl on the street. “Nobody wants to go out in some get-up straight off the mannequin for fear of running into someone else wearing the exact same thing. You need to mix it up, and so there’s this thrill in discovering something new, before it’s in your local mall and on the back of every other trendster,” says DeVoe, who prides herself on the originality of the goods available at iluvkoshi.com. She says, “Once something reaches that level of popularity, it can lose some of its magic for gals on the hunt for something fresh.
The secret web-savvy shoppers know is that the internet can be a great source for creating an eclectic look. Since the popularity of eBay with it’s impressive array of apparel on auction from real designer samples to retro-anything, a number of online vintage shops featuring everything from turn of the century lingerie to original Halston and Gucci by Tom Ford, and the addition of indie boutiques like iluvkoshi.com, more women may be turning to the web when the urge for some retail therapy sets in. Total e-commerce sales for 2004 were estimated at $69.2 billion, an increase of 23.5 percent from the year before, according to the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce
“I specifically support women designers from the internet, because I care about seeing creative women succeed and the web is the best place to reach the kind of people that enjoy participating in that.” says DeVoe, who stocks her virtual shop like you might a cozy downtown boutique, with a selection of hip girly tees, accessories, and beauty treats along side indie fashion from emerging brands like Edge Of Urge, King William, and Jewel Thief. “These are tiny companies run by real women just doing their thing,” she says of the twenty plus brands sold at iluvkoshi.com, “And they are not only inventive in terms of what they create, but they’re willing to go that extra mile to succeed.
Indie companies often begin as a one woman show with the designer taking on the additional roles of manufacturer, distributor, sales rep, and publicist, which is what DeVoe says she admires in the designers koshi represents. Audrey Hu of AH Jewelry has, by her own determination, had her line on the likes of Christy Turlington, Ashanti, and on Hilary Duff for the cover of Seventeen magazine. Debra Weiss and Hillery Sproat, the mother-daughter design team behind Rebe have, also by their own steam, managed to see their feminine floral styles between the pages of Elle Girl, Bust magazine and the Style section of The Washington Post.
Catering to a youthful, free-spirited woman with an eye for something a bit sexy and sometimes downright sweet, iluvkoshi.com is carefully edited by DeVoe as a collection of indie must-haves. She says, “Much like a personal shopper, I sift through the numerous possibilities to bring you the best according to koshi. The web is so vast. There’s room for a niche within the niche.” She explains, “If you like my taste and what I’m doing, you will find that I’m consistent in that, that you can rely on me to always supply something cool from this particular vantage point, across the board.
With a new “indie rock that rocks” section selling music by fresh talent like The Culottes, and singer-songwriter, Rachel Robinson, DeVoe has just partnered with Billy Gruber of California Sound Control to release L.A. Woman: Song Book One, the first of a planned series of compilation CDs featuring, as you’ve probably guessed, independent female artists. “Fashion and rock go hand and hand,” she says, “I love them both equally and, as long as I’m sticking to this theme of presenting web-shoppers with the best of what indie women have to offer, it makes perfect sense to me.
Koshi is a lifestyle and entertainment brand for women, currently producing a line of panties, tees, and one of a kind illustrated handbags, as well as a series of compilation CDs featuring independent artists, with iluvkoshi.com offering fashion, beauty products and music from over twenty-five female-based companies.