Born in Atlanta, Georgia, multidisciplinarian Reese Cooper dropped his first collection aged just 18 years old. His eponymous label has since blossomed into a fully-fledged brand that can be found in the likes of SSENSE, MR PORTER, and Selfridges. Cooper was recently announced as a finalist for the CDFA / Vogue Fashion Fund (last year’s winner was PYER MOSS), which will see him and nine other designers compete for a grand prize of $400,000 and a year’s mentorship.
Cooper wound his way into the fashion world after becoming obsessed with streetwear as a teenager (the youngster flipped Supreme and cites a particular BAPE camo T-shirt as an item that changed everything for him). He then moved to London from Los Angeles, where he worked with a seamstress learning pattern making at 16, before deciding to start his own label.
Cooper’s debut collection, “Spoiled Children,” was essentially a fuck you to the kids he met at school but never connected with, referencing a theme of isolation. Other career highlights include a hoodie, the profits of which were donated to the Flint Child Health and Development Fund, and his latest FW19 drop, inspired by classic Americana.
A self-confessed workaholic who claims to sleep only four hours per night, Cooper shared his key tips for making it in the industry to Highsnobiety.
Surround Yourself With the Right People
“It’s the most important thing.
“The smartest thing you can do is realize that you are not the best at every element of running a business. I’m not the best at finance and there are people better than me at that, so if you bring in someone who knows what they’re doing — and understand your skillset and be honest with yourself about where you are — this is where you can start bringing in help and really advancing things.
“You need to be surrounded by like-minded people who all have a common interest. You’re ten times better off this way than you are trying to run it all yourself. It’s also important to bring in people who are better than you. Just for the sense of work ethic and output. You are always learning here. So it’s really important to surround yourself with people who you can learn from day to day.”
Put in the Hours
“I’m usually in the office by 7:00 a.m. or 7:30 a.m.
“I’ll be here until 7:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. most days. Some days, I’ll end up staying for a while. I have a bunch of different things that I could be doing because I have so much to say, so if I’m getting a block in one project, I can switch to another. I can be here until 2:00 a.m. working and that’ll help me develop something the next day.”
“it’s important to me to spend as much time in the studio as possible. I feel like a lot of it is business management at this point, but I’ve built up a good team where I can still focus on the creative direction of the whole company.”
Have Something of Value to Say
“What’s worked for me is having something to say; having a clear vision and narrative, at least in my own head, that I’m still working on perfecting, but knowing what I’m trying to do every day.
“If you don’t really have a central identity [for your brand] it’s hard to build traction. Everything for me has worked so far because it’s all based on my actual interests; I’m not really faking anything. So there are no strategy meetings. It’s a question of what do I want to do next? How do we do this?
“It all relates to exactly what I’m doing or how I’m feeling, so it’s all me. Everything has stayed true to the core identity.”
“I mean, I’ve said this before and I say it to anyone who asks me personally about a creative process — It’s about the feeling you get, having that initial idea, going through the steps to execute it and having that final thing. Once you have that final tangible thing in front of you, it’s addictive. You make one thing, you’re like, ‘Okay, what’s next?’ You can’t stop after that.”
Find a Meditative Creative Outlet
“All the furniture in my office is very functional, but it’s all from Home Depot plywood, so I’ve spent the time putting it together myself. I feel the biggest part of running a clothing brand is the element of problem-solving.
“That’s been a way of thinking quickly and problem-solving, but it’s also really nice meditation to be able to work on something all day that has nothing to do with clothing or drafts.
“It’s some sort of creative output, but at the end, I walk away with something tangible, functional. I’m thinking about how to take that with what goes next, but in the meantime, it’s a very good meditation tool for me.”