Coskel University is a clothing company based out of Brooklyn New York, being recognized as an "ambassador of the true Caribbean culture" in the US, and considered as more than just a fashion label. Founded by a team of Trinidadian designer Xolani Heylon and Japanese artist Machiyo Kodaira in 2005, the brand has shown collections inspired by cultural heritage of the twin isle republic of Trinidad and Tobago, specially inspired by Calypso music and Soca music, Steelpan, Trinidad Carnival, or even unique species of plants, birds and animals from the islands.
For many Caribbean descendants and Caribbean music fans in New York City, Coskel University is beyond a fashion label; it's become a cultural icon that fulfills a missing link between an emerging new generation traditional culture. Coskel University represents that the Caribbean that is more than just "Bob Marley and beach resorts". Excluding stereotypical imagery of the Caribbean, and instead focuses on the richness of Trinidadian/caribbean culture.
The popularity of the brand has spread rapidly, throughout the world, regardless of the cultural or racial differences, the brand's strong and positive message has already gotten to fashionable crowds in major cities of the world; such as Miami, Toronto, Port of Spain Trinidad, London, Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, or Sapporo in Japan.
Coskel University have been featured in articles in national newspapers such asTrinidad Guardian, major culture/fashion magazines like Caribbean Beat, Crème Magazine, Luire (Japanese) and Street Jack (Japanese), and a documentary film broadcast by Gayelle TV network.
Coskel University's "wearable art" pieces have been favorite of many Caribbean celebrities such as; Mighty Sparrow, David Rudder, Black Stalin, Calypso Rose, Scrunter, Mighty Shadow, Lord Nelson, Dane Gulston, Shawn Noel(Da Ma$tamind), Liam Teague, Hemo & Moofire, Rihanna, Kevin Lyttle, Maximus Dan, Shurwayne Winchester, Kevon Carter, Trinity, Bomani and more.
"Coskel" spelt originally "cosquelle", is Trinidadian patois meaning "outlandish or garish taste in clothing, decor or style". Ironically Coskel University's clothing is the exact opposite of that. Creating a new definition to the word, "Coskel" in today's Trinidadian slang dictionary means "I am a stylish person who has a hip fashion sense and style."
Coskel University refers to a place where one can learn about dressing in a unique and stylish way, or a place to learn about hidden cultural treasures of the Caribbean.
The company was founded in 2005 by designer duo Xolani Heylon and Machiyo Kodaira. As a fashion enthusiast living in the West Indian neighborhood Brooklyn New York, Xolani had been seeking for a fashionable apparel representing his Trinbagonian culture, but could not find anything. It was decided, then to start his own clothing line and teamed up with a Japanese artist Machiyo Kodaira, herself a Calypso fan and a well-known illustrator doing artwork of Caribbean oriented subjects. In the beginning they created homemade T-shirts and tank-tops only for friends and family, but these pieces eventually became a commodity in the predominately Caribbean neighborhood. Since then the company has grown rapidly with headquarters in New York and Tokyo. Coskel University products can be found in numerous trendy boutiques such as Pieces of Brooklyn and Untitled in New york, Caribbean Culture Shack in Port of Spain Trinidad and Studio Zone in Tokyo.
Their Spring 2007 collection held in Soho NYC covered by Tempo TV was a major success, showing that their products also appealed to non-Caribbean fashionable crowds. In October 2006, the label was featured in Tokyo Metro Collection (TMC) as the first American brand in history of the show to be showcased and was attended by many fashionistas in Tokyo.
Coskel University's primary focus is on clothing, the company designs trendy street gear including T-shirts, tank-tops, sweatshirts, dress shirts, polo shirts, jackets, hats and a denim collection. The label is also known for many collaborative works with other clothing companies and record labels such as Glimm Jean Tokyo, Ma$tamind Productions and Catalyst Entertainment. Many Caribbean celebrities have become spokespersons of the CU brand. Currently world famous steelpan artist Dane Gulston and model and dancer Shaun Marcus are featured in their Spring 2007 ad campaign.