Tailored, chic collections, sporty-chic riffs on outerwear, paired with an undeniable gift for getting to the heart of the chameleon like ‘youth culture’; Belgium born designer Tim Coppens is known for designing collections on the pulse of ‘what’s now.’ His elevated approach to sportswear has earned him a reputation as a leader of fashion’s move into athletic luxury.
Technical savvy is married to a love of the métier, making for designs which offer a surprisingly tailored approach to minimal collections. Inspired by the street style fashions of Japan and the rock stars Jimi Hendrix and Axl Rose, Tim Coppens’s Autumn/Winter 2016 urban street-savvy collection featured nearly 75,000 Swarovski crystals in patchwork.
Recently appointed as Executive Creative Director of Under Armour, Coppens is a man of reinvention; and much like his source of inspiration, an inexhaustible creator. Swarovski joined Coppens inside his (immaculate) studio in Tribeca for an intimate sit-down.
What's your most unique source of inspiration?
Music. Smashing Pumpkins, etc.
How did growing up in Belgium influence you?
I wasn’t exposed to fashion at all but I always built things in the workshop of my grandfather. It wasn’t until someone said I had to check out the academy in Antwerp that I became interested.
This collection really riffs on your sportswear aesthetic into something more polished. Can you speak to that evolution?
I love well made clothing, and I think that there’s a new arena where athleisure becomes luxury by way of its composition, approach, and detailing.
Are there any special design elements or collaborations that are new this season?
Swarovski beaded Vans. Embroideries based on vintage bowling shirts.
I love how the different sizes and round shape of the Swarovski pearls create depth and structure. The overall look is very modern and fits very well with the rest of the collection. It adds a sophistication and feel of craftsmanship that creates an interesting contrast with some of the simpler sweatshirts and t-shirts.
You’ve visited the Swarovski HQ in Wattens twice – what do you think?
I have seen a lot more than what usually comes to mind when thinking of Swarovski. The industrial applications and the technology behind the creation of crystal is very fascinating.
You were inspired by video games graphics for the fall collection - what about them inspired you? Personal fan?
Nothing especially, besides the graphic elements. I love the visual blocking and approach to rendering images.
How would you define youth culture?
There’s this thing about youth, and how they identify – in a way, like a herd or a tribe. Maybe its music. It’s usually music – maybe its art or a nearby city where something is happening.
I find it funny to see who wears my collection. For example you’ll see a girl from vogue with the mushroom tee-shirt, spotted in some magazine or another –these icons speak to everyone, whether or not they identify with the source. It’s a constant reinvention, turning symbols and messages on their head. It goes so fast now, when you go to Asia and especially Japan you can really feel that, and feel how the language of fashion moves at a lightning speed. Same with youth culture – when something catches, it spreads like wild fire.
What about youth culture inspires you?
The energy of seeking, of going out and finding these emblems and references which speak to you.
What keeps you in fashion / what makes you crazy about it?
I grew up in Belgium, in a little town near Antwerp. I got into fashion because that’s what there was to do down there. To see a concert, to go out to bars, whatever – you had to leave and to go. America is really where it is happening from a business perspective, Europe has all this old-guard way of doing things. So that’s what keeps me here. I worked for Adidas and Ralph Lauren, which was a great education. However I always wanted to go off and do my own thing, so the evolution into doing my own collections was natural from there.
Crystaldust Bangle and Stardust Bracelet