Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Reese Cooper moved to London's Hammersmith neighborhood in 2009 because of his mother's work. While there, he began to develop his own world during solo lunches at school, discovering culture via Tumblr and the Internet, and really getting into BAPE.
“I worked my ass off babysitting to buy that shit,” he recalls in an interview with NME.
By 15, he was interning for Craig Ford, owner of influential sales and marketing agency a number of names* (anon*), who is credited with expanding the footprints of brands like BAPE and CAV EMPT to the U.K. and European markets. anon* also holds the U.K. license for Billionaire Boys Club, which is executed so well that its stateside counterpart has made recent moves to align the brand closer to anon*'s vision, like hiring Brendon Babenzien as its creative director for BEE LINE.
His interest in fashion progressed rather quickly, and in a few short years he was working on editorials with London store EJDER, along with fellow young creative Jakob Hetzer, whom he met on Instagram. By 19 he had become the face of adidas U.K. and launched his debut collection, “Spoiled Children,” a slight to the kids he couldn't stand in school, and the reason he opted to eat lunch alone. He ironically followed that up with “Seneca Arts Club,” a nod to the self-taught and driven idealists, like himself. In May 2017, he also launched “Water Is More Precious Than Gold,” a selection of items emblazoned with the saying to help benefit the still-suffering residents of Flint, Michigan's ongoing water crisis.
Now 20, Cooper has traded gloomy London for sunny Los Angeles, and just debuted his new label at Paris Fashion Week. His first proper label is Lone Pine, named after a California desert town that had its heyday as the backdrop for Hollywood westerns. It's just a few hours north of L.A., and boasts a humble population of 2,035 as of the 2010 United States census.
The clothes riff on Americana, repurposing flannel shirts as hardy half-zips, with touches of academia in collegiate letter scarves and colorblocked varsity jackets—Cooper's favorite piece from the collection. One of the more impressive items in the debut line is a military jacket made from repurposed military duffel bags circa 1984.
The clothing is made in Los Angeles at the Giannetti Factory, owned by architect Steve Giannetti and his wife, interior designer Brooke Giannetti. Cooper was brought in by their son Charlie, and currently Giannetti Factory has a second life helping cultivate young designer brands. Other clients include Jakob Hetzer and the forward-thinking Portland, Oregon boutique Machus, which produces its nascent in-house line there. Charlie Giannetti also shot Lone Pine's lookbook, while Cooper handled creative direction.
“I essentially just learned everything I didn't know without going to school,” explains Cooper, who dropped out. “I learned from Charlie, from the experience being in the factory all day for a whole year. And, I feel it's like so much more valuable to learn there than from four years of school.”
There's a touch of Cooper's already well-traveled mind in the collection. Italian wool adds an upscale accent to a varsity jacket, and Japanese wools give a soft hand to numerous other pieces. He took a trip there specifically to source fabrics. Cooper's team is small and includes Alberto Mier and Cooper's mother, Leah, who jokes that she's been his “manager” for about 20 years now.
“I help on the business side. He's the vision,” she says. The fashion world is a big departure for her, a lawyer by trade who also runs a consultancy. “This is my night job,” she quips.
It's clear where Reese Cooper gets his drive from. But he also appreciates how Los Angeles has let him focus more on his work. After all, he can no longer drink legally, and admits that he would go out all the time in London. And besides the fortuitous change in weather, he's also picking up some of the city's healthier beverage habits.
“I just found a juice bar around the corner. I was so fucking excited about it! I was never into that stuff before,” he says. “Then I moved to L.A. and someone made me try all that bullshit and I'm like—Yeah, okay. I get it now.”
Now meet the winners of our 2017 Highsnobiety Crowns Under-the-Radar Brands.