Reese Cooper Adapts, Grows and Dreams
Over lunch at Le Charlot in Paris last month, Reese Cooper, remarked how this was his first visit to the city without being in work mode. “It is a proper vacation for the first time in three years – my first flight to Paris where I wasn’t working on a line sheet,” he quips. The Los Angeles-based designer was to show on official FW22 Paris Fashion Week menswear calendar, but confronting various covid-related circumstances, he has conceived an adapted and dynamic experience which will live-stream today, February 5th. Over 12 hours, eight cameras will record the shooting of his SS22 lookbook in a local studio. Backed by Shopify, Cooper notes how this aligns with a significant increase in direct-to-consumer sales alongside his ongoing retail relationships. In fact, Cooper, who is just 24, noted how this period has been one of growth in all respects – his design process included. “I think this collection is trying to figure out what someone who is 40 wants to wear, versus what I want to wear, and hitting that middle ground where both of us can wear the same thing and still feel like themselves,” he said, while sharing some additional thoughts with Insider.
Are you a dreamer?
During the day, yes. At night, I think I wake up knowing I have had a dream once every three months. It just never happens to me.
What does daytime dreaming mean to you?
Being here right now, literally. Things that felt so far out of reach and now ideas I’ve had for one, two years are seeing the light. And they end up working out better than I could have dreamed.
Did you dream of being a designer?
No, well, maybe. There was never six-year-old or ten-year-old me saying I want to make clothes. But I have always been fascinated with how things are made and how things are put together. My grandfather builds a lot of things so growing up around that, I was super interested in that. My first-ever internship once I was interested in clothes was at a distribution agency in London. When you’re steaming clothes for 8 hours a day for a week, you’re looking at everything. And once that got into me, the rest is history. Once I get interested in something, I am a rabbit hole… I think I have only become comfortable with the term designer in the past year. Whenever I meet people, what do you do, it’s always like, ‘Oh I have a brand and I make clothes.’ I never used the d-word, and I’m getting to a point where I just need to get over myself; I’m on the Paris calendar! But I am going to hold off on using the capital D designer. The lowercase, I’m all in.
I met him in 2014 as a fan first off, before doing anything on my own. He was just a very inspiring figure in my life, and he turned into a friend. I would be lying if I didn’t say seeing him doing what he did opened my worldview – like, oh, you can do this. He was always that figure, whenever I started working on something and putting it out in the world, I would get the Instagram comment of the fire emojis, which was cool. As things got a little bigger, he was incredibly gracious with his time and gave with advice when I had questions like, ‘How do you scale? What comes next.’… It’s the little things. He’s the only designer, let alone person, who continuously makes me feel that 17-year-old self.
Why do people dream of going into fashion?
I have no idea. I don’t know what brought me into it. But now that I’m here I love it. I feel it’s maybe the same reason people go into anything: you find that thing you care about and just let it consume you.
To what extent is fashion about selling dreams?
I think a lot of it. At the end the day, you break it down to its simplest terms, you do runway shows to sell the idea of the consumer piece that makes it to the store. And to sell the idea of the brand that people want to participate in.
Do you have a dream that is unfulfilled?
I think I’m now at a point where I’m now gravitating towards the idea of working in a place or directing something that is not my own. I think I have a long way to go to build up my own skill set and portfolio to where that’s a viable option, but I can see that. At first the picture wasn’t even blurry; it just didn’t even exist. And now it’s a super blurry picture; I can’t see what it looks like; but I am open to the idea.
What is your wildest dream for the world?
I don’t know what the exact, big-picture answer is, but the thing that excites me is access. You can apply this to whatever context; in certain places, it means access to clean water, even parts of the U.S. still. Or access to information like the education system. No one ever told me in school I could be in this chair right now in school. You hear stories that all it takes is access to change the course of lives. Playlab just worked on exhibition for the artist Ernie Barnes. He was exposed to art books and library and records at a young age and that’s what changed his course.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.