Haute Fashion: Exclusive Q&A with Skingraft’s Jonny Cota

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"Skingraft Downtown Store Front"

One of Downtown L.A.’s best fashion boutiques, Skingraft specializes in artistic design ranging from spiked leather jackets to silk-chiffon drapery. With a birth in 2005 and a flagship opening in 2009, designer Jonny Cota is on the fast track to fashion royalty. Although Skingraft originated as a trial run for the performance-based costume design brand Cota, the company now produces full ready-to-wear collections for both men and women in addition to the occasional stage novelty.

Cota’s designs are also sold all around Los Angeles; from Melrose (Forgotten Saints) to Sunset (E.P.I.C.) to Santa Monica (Church); and of coarse other mega-cities like New York (Oak), San Francisco (Five and Diamond), and Philadelphia (Delicious Boutique).

I visited Jonny at his store to find out more about the thought process behind the fantastical madness from which he has built his reputation…

Haute Living: I’ve read music and imagery fuels the inspiration for your collections; is there a common thread behind the catalysts?

Jonny Cota: I call it animal magic…a witchy-ness, a haunted animal spirit thing that happens in every collection; lots of leather, sometimes we use furs and distressed fabric- trying to make it very city and young and modern- it’s a beautiful darkness. Musicians who tap into something similar is who we resonate with like Fever Ray and Bjork.

HL: What message are you trying to communicate through your garments?

JC: It’s a blurring of lines of day to night; conservative and outlandish; of gender-appropriate clothes – to play with things both dressy and night-time wear. Maybe not so much of a message as a goal in a way of living in a way of styling yourself.

jonny cota at skingraft

HL: Who do you see as your target market?

JC: Of coarse I always want to push the envelope and appeal to new groups of people but I think our target market is people who love fashion, who love all types of art, who can appreciate our attempt to put art into all of our pieces.  I’ve been seeing the clientele expand; we’ve done work with Britney Spears…Brandon Boyd … Marilyn Manson…I definitely like the expansion.

HL: Is your target market a main focus from the beginning or at what point do you start to consider their needs and wants?

JC: Every collection has a muse, it can be someone close to me or someone I’ve never met who inspires the collection and I constantly think would that person wear this? I think of it very stylistically from the beginning.

"Skingraft Downtown Store Display"

HL: In 5 years from now, where do you see your brand?

JC: What I really want to do is allow Skingraft to maybe go into the high-end market with higher quality materials and tailoring, then create a fusion line with a more accessible budget and target people who are interested in modest spending. I really want to find a greater sense of our identity and push that envelope…maybe open up a store in New York.

HL: What’s next for Skingraft; any L.A. Fashion Week plans?

JC: This season we are actually going to do a film and an event, in order to switch up the platform in which we show the collection…I love runway, but this gives us a chance to be more artistic, to push the boundaries a little bit more and force us to think differently about the collection.

Skingraft Flagship Store is located at 125 West 4th Street, Suite #102, Los Angeles, 213.626.2662
Store Hours: Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday: noon – 6 p.m.

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