1840 Journal

Meet the artisans, discover their expertise, and share their passion.

Creators

Coo-Mon's travel guide.

"The name helps you understand the story behind it," says Ingrid Agbato, Coo-Mon's designer and founder. "COO" is the airport acronym for Cotonou, the capital of Benin, and "Mon" stands for Montreal, Ingrid's adopted city. We are immediately drawn to the colours of these unique handmade accessories that invite us to travel and constantly discover more. "What I do today comes from the experience of cultures that inhabit me," says the designer. "Montreal is integrated into my cultural change. I now embody a cultural duality." By launching a line inspired by her own story, the designer has come to redefine the concept of ethnic fashion.

Ingrid, a Benin-native living in Quebec, wanted to wear the traditional fabrics she loved so much, but in a different way. This is how she came up with the idea for accessories: regardless of personal preferences, they can easily be integrated into a wardrobe without having to change our dressing habits. Also, since these natural fibres are made for a temperate climate, it's unnecessary to wait until summer to sport these styles!

Each Coo-Mon accessory brings nations together by displaying a solid colour inspired by our region, and a print that comes from another country. 

Coo-Mon revamps the style of the person who wears it thanks to its mission: to visit cultures through fabrics. "It's a way of opening up to others," explains the designer. A scientist by profession (she is currently completing a doctorate in the field), Ingrid didn’t hesitate to embark on research to learn more. Looking to explore other destinations that are less familiar to her, Ingrid decided to include in madras in her collections, a print from Guadeloupe, and schweschwe, which comes from South Africa. These beautiful discoveries add to the wax print cloth from Benin. We are introduced to the history, characteristics, and properties of each motif."It also opens up a culture, a curiosity," Ingrid adds. Moreover, it highlights the complexity and cultural plurality of these regions.

Ingrid discovered sewing in Benin. Tailor-made is the norm in her home country. It’s not uncommon for people to buy fabric and go to a tailor to have them makes clothes exactly to the customer’s liking. With her entrepreneurial spirit, young Ingrid decided to try her own hand at it so that she would no longer have to rely on others. When she obtained a scholarship for her admission to the Polytechnique, she enrolled in sewing classes. Later, when the designer moved to Montreal to pursue her higher education, she gave birth to her daughter. This even was a catalyst for Ingrid. During a difficult period, she turned to sewing as an outlet, and her reflection intensified. "How can I explain to my child where I come from?" Ingrid wondered.

That was the beginning of a great adventure of culture, identity, and ethnic fashion.

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