Reese Cooper is bringing a breath of fresh air to the fashion industry, quite literally.
Today he debuted his Spring/Summer 2022 collection virtually for Men’s Fashion Week in Paris, a presentation titled “Fresh Air” that showcased the emerging designer’s most extensive, cohesive body of work yet. Filled with bright reds and bold blues, the collection features 35 looks and his largest women’s offering to date, making up 14 looks of the total collection.
“Fresh Air” is the designer’s first in-person show since his debut runway show at Palais de Tokyo in Paris in January 2020.
“You can’t compare it to doing things in person, but just to be able to switch my phone off and enjoy it instead of having to talk in the back room at Palais de Tokyo for three hours is incredible,” said Cooper reflecting on the experience.
This season’s experience welcomed friends of the brand to join him for an outdoor show, set against the dusty, sage-colored mountains of California. The East Fork Bridge in Asuza served as the perfect runway, paying homage to the brand’s mission of integrating nature into each of its collections. It was when Cooper drove across the bridge for the first time that he discovered the inspiration for this season, “The color palette of the area informed everything. It’s a barren wasteland of dusty browns – something you’d never seen in the city. The collection needed some crazy color pops,” he explained. The show was filmed by the brand’s longtime collaborated Andrè Bato and brought to life by PLAYLAB, Inc.
Some stand-out pieces include an array of men’s utility pants and shorts, each adorned with bold pockets and their staple, reusable water bottle. Cooper’s highlight is a dress he made in collaboration with artist Juliet Johnstone, created with 80 yards of blue tulle and a one-shoulder bodice.
“For womenswear, we wanted to do something that had nothing to do with sales. Instead of doing a hoodie or a pair of pants, we went into it with the goal of actually getting our ideas across instead of focusing on production,” said Cooper.
Models walked down the bridge to a custom soundscape by musician Kaytranada, a compilation of unreleased songs and sounds inspired by the show’s expansive setting.
“When I pitched the idea, I said, “You happen to be in this place and you have all of your equipment and the loudest speaker in the world. What are you playing here?”” said Cooper with a smile. The collaboration, he hopes, will be the first of many.
Upon arrival, guests received a disposable camera to shoot the collection. The cameras themselves were Reese Cooper branded, with a note that encouraged guests to “DOCUMENT EVERYTHING,” recruiting each guest as a member of the “RUNWAY SHOW MEDIA TEAM.” Every photo from the disposal cameras was autographed by attendees on-site, which the team aims to compile for a book.
With the world beginning to open up again, this collection is ushering in an exciting chapter for the business with a newfound sense of optimism. They’re working with a new manufacturer to bring their products to market after a falling out with their previous one. They’re also in the process of moving to a larger office space that will accommodate the brand’s growing team and desire for a community space. When reflecting on the hardships of the past year, Cooper exuded a more refreshing take, one that described an era where the brand was been able to deep dive into its identity and create moments universally recognized by the fashion community.
“Business-wise, the past year has been a struggle for everybody. But for brands that are built on an idea versus just product-driven stuff, this has been a field day,” said Cooper. “The run of three COVID-era shows has been an absolutely incredible opportunity for brand building. I feel like I now have a much clearer understanding of the aesthetic of the brand because we’ve had to put it into things for people to reference from a distance.”
Cooper debuted his first collection of locally made clothing when he was just 18-years-old and went on to become the youngest-ever finalist for the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund in 2019, landing a spot on the Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2020, and adored by fashion thought leaders like Bella Hadid and Virgil Abloh. Five years since launch, his team and business have grown dramatically, but he still likes to keep his hands in every part of the process – from emails to their website.
“As nice and like beautiful as the brand looks from the outside, it’s still the same amount of work as it was when I started the brand,” said the designer of his day-to-day life at the helm of his eponymous label. “I like to still have my hands in everything. You realize without your hands involved in most of these processes, a lot of things just get lost, and that’s when things start to feel less personal for me.”
Most personal to the brand’s mission is Cooper’s love and admiration for the outdoors. Since its launch, every item sold by Reese Cooper on their website & retail partners has been matched with a donation of planting one tree in the forests of California through a partnership with One Tree Planted. Through each show and collection, Cooper continues to inspire his clientele to get outside, be conscious consumers, and create a more conscious fashion industry as a whole.
“You have to let nature humble you,” said Cooper. “As soon as you start getting in your head about running a cool company, run up 40 flights of stairs. You’re going to feel that you’re just a person.”
Reese Cooper’s “Fresh Air” was released on Thursday, June 24th at 20:30 CET.
Watch the Livestream at Youtube.com/ReeseCooper
Shop Reese Cooper at Reese-Cooper.com