Reese Cooper X Levi’s: a global launch from Paris
Reese Cooper was all smiles the day after the presentation of his ‘Seed and Soil’ Spring/Summer 2023 collection, showcased appropriately at the Jardin des Plantes botanical gardens in Paris, the US designer's first show in the French capital. As part of the show, Cooper officially dropped his first collaboration with Levi’s. The collection was immediately available for sale at a pop-up store in Rue d’Uzès in Paris, and internationally too.
Cooper, who founded his RCI label six years ago in Los Angeles, with a focus on workwear and upcycling, had first dipped his toes in Parisian waters, outside the official calendar, in 2018. This time, he came back with a fully fledged collection show.
“We were on the digital show calendar, but this was the first time we were on the [official show] calendar. It’s unreal. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet, there was so much energy. For us it was key, since this is our largest collection to date, featuring nearly 300 items, not counting t-shirts, but it’s also the largest team I’ve ever worked with in the company. It was a culmination of the work done over the last two years, which came to life with this show,” said Cooper.
Cooper’s savvy in reinterpreting workwear codes lay of course at the heart of this collection for men and women, evident in the trench coats, jackets and other types of parkas, notably enhanced by modular pockets. Some of the garments were cut in raw fabric, others were patterned with interesting green and blue prints, mixed with some brown, which Coper and his partner designed themselves. Cooper produces his creations at his own Los Angeles-based ateliers, and his style attracted Levi’s during the Covid-19 lockdowns. The show’s first look was the fruit of his work with Levi’s.
“We started on this two years ago,” said Cooper. “This is the first collaboration I said ‘yes’ to with my label. For me, it was the first time I was presented with a real project that had purpose. [Levi’s] allowed me to apply my own touch and materials to their classic silhouettes. Some of the looks are theirs, but have been tweaked by my team, while others were created by me and [Levi’s] then worked on them. It was a genuine exchange. We also worked with what they call deadstock, and we wanted to do something special with these items. But these are limited-edition pieces because, for example, six garments may be needed to create one jacket. What I’m interested in, as with Merrell, with which we can design sneakers, is to be able to work with quality brands with a broad appeal, and bring my own vision to them,” he added.
Karyn Hillman, chief product officer at Levi’s, said: “We struck an instant connection on how to work with fabrics and on sustainability. These are Levi’s items, but clearly infused with Reese’s amazing creativity, mixing function and fashion. We started this project two years ago during the pandemic, planning how to deploy it. Of course, we have a strategic vision on collaborations, but the important thing is that they make sense. The starting point is talking about products, fabrics and archives, sparking the inspiration to create something new. We always want both brands and their narratives to truly come through in a collaboration.”
This collection’s unique feature is that it is being launched in ‘see now, buy now’ mode. It was shown on Wednesday evening, and Levi’s commercialised it from Thursday.
“Nine of this collaboration’s products are already available in Tokyo, Dubai, Shanghai, and at our flagship stores in Paris, Los Angeles and New York,” said Karen Riley-Grant, chief marketing officer at Levi Strauss & Co. “What is important in these collaborations is to make a new line immediately accessible. Prices are appropriate to the products. Levi’s has been committed to greater sustainability for years. But this type of collaboration enables us to deliver the message to consumers, and to generate a greater impact on these topics. Our priority is to be able to connect with customers and communities,” she added.
Cooper's label is already commercialised by e-tailers like Mr Porter and Ssense, as well as by Saks, Bodega in Los Angeles, Le Printemps and End.Clothing, and this collaboration is set to give it even greater international visibility and credibility.
“I think that right now, even though there is a lot of energy around the brand, we are still building its foundations. I think that’s the most important thing, before we can even think of building something bigger. We are setting up our organisation. There are nine of us, six of whom work at our atelier. My goal is for us to be 15 by the end of the year,” said Cooper.
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