Tim Coppens: High Fashion On NYC Streets

Photo of Alexandra Letellier
26 September 2016

Tim Coppens, originally from Belgium, is a high fashion menswear designer based in New York City. Coppens designs immaculate clothing for men and women who enjoy athletic-wear with elegant flair. He began his career working with brands similar to his such as Adidas and Ralph Lauren before creating a label of his own in 2011. Coppens’ unique style attracts individuals who desire to add a sense of athletic luxury to their closet.

Adidas | © Thomas8047/Flickr

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Tim Coppens has always been interested in the arts and was curious to learn more at a young age. Raised in a modest village in Belgium, Coppens had hardly any artistic influence or access to the arts. However, his parents were fond of the arts and were supportive with anything he chose to do. He began experimenting with design during his high school years, when skater clothing was trendy. As an adolescent, he had no specific interest in fashion, only in creating things.

Together! Glasgow In-Store Fashion Show | © Pat (Cletch) Williams/Flickr

After graduating from the internationally acclaimed Royal Academy of Fine Arts, he moved around throughout Europe and eventually landed a job with Bogner in Munich, which led to a position at Adidas. Coppens always felt attracted by New York, so that is what he decided to do next. After working for some time at Adidas, he moved to the Big Apple and was recruited for the position of design director for Ralph Lauren. After working for Ralph Lauren, Coppens decided to branch out and start his own luxury athletic menswear line in 2011.

Tim Coppens’ solo brand would not have been possible if it weren’t for Stella Iishi, who took a look at his designs while he was still with Ralph Lauren, and insisted on showing them to Barneys New York. Within months, his designs were on the racks and his brand possessed a cohesive concept with quality pieces. This rare, rapid success is something most designers can only dream of achieving.

Adidas Originals | © adifansnet/Flickr

Tim Coppens quickly rose to fame and fell under the spotlight. Immediately following the release of his first collection, large retailers such as Barneys New York, Dover Street Market, Isetan, Club 21, Harvey Nichols, and Mr. Porter were buying his collection. Just one year after founding his label, he received the 2012 Ecco Domani Award for Best New Menswear Designer and the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star of the Year in 2013. He was also a finalist for the Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund Award in 2013 and was nominated for the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award this year.

CHIN Chun-San, Francesca: Time Sculptor: Look 2 / PolyU Fashion Show 2013 | © See-ming Lee/Flickr

Since the beginning of Tim Coppens’ career working for other designers, he has possessed a good sense of what comfortable means to regular individuals and how it plays a role in high fashion. He claims that textiles, textures and fabrics play a large role in his creative process while designing clothes. He compares a plain white shirt to a set of sheets: once you’ve slept on a good set you’ll never think of sheets the same way. He hopes that people will feel the same after wearing his clothing.

Tim Coppens takes his brand image seriously and is shifting toward creating pieces for both men and women. His brand image combines unisex items of clothing and gender-blurred pieces. His comfortable, chic athletic wear aims to please those who desire runway style with an everyday street flair. Coppens’ pieces all have a concept behind them, which is crucial to him. His biggest struggle is trying to make clothes that retain a significant meaning without being too conceptual which would make them unmarketable to the public.

Adidas | © Jake Stimpson/Flickr

Although Coppens began primarily designing menswear clothing, many women expressed interest in his pieces and even started wearing them. Because of the demand for Coppens’ womenswear designs, he came out with a line specifically for women in February of 2015. This collection, inspired by Ian Brown, a ’90s music pin-up artist, turned heads and had women across the globe ecstatic. His latest collection for Spring 2016 is inspired by his adolescent years in Belgium, which consisted primarily of attending raves and parties. The collection juxtaposes the typical teen partier concept with sophisticated adult seams and cuts. Coppens’ plans for the future include maintaining his focus, professionally and in all aspects of life, and continuing to design clothing for both men and women.

By Alexandra Letellier

Alexandra Letellier is currently attending Parsons School of Design majoring in strategic design and management. She is from Palm Springs, California, a former competitive swimmer who enjoys photography, traveling, food and yoga.

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