Tim Coppens on Menswear's Paradigm Shift

“It’s about making things easier—easier to move around in, easier to make your day faster.”

Fashion
3,798 Hypes 0 Comments

Tim Coppens has been designing menswear for a long time. The Antwerp Royal Academy alumni has completed stints at adidas and RLX, before beginning to helm his own eponymous label and overseeing Under Armour’s UAS sportswear division. The designer is at the forefront of what is known to most as “athleisure,” and has long been in the trenches with sportswear-influenced fashion. With his roles as a fashion designer for his own label and for a multinational athletic company, Coppens has the ability to experiment. Check out this in-depth interview with the designer, courtesy of SSENSE.

Watch our video interview with Tim Coppens just before his UAS presentation during NYFW here.

When you zoom out and look at the history of men’s dressing, the 20th century is very much defined by the suit. But in the 21st century—at least so far—we are looking at a shift into “athleisure”—a kind of convergence between casual dress, formal dress, and athletic clothing. Since you are someone who has been at the frontline of this sea change, I wanted to ask you what kind of society you think this shift is speaking to?
I think there are a lot of things, actually. When I started working in fashion, there was a very big division between performance wear and fashion. If you looked at all the fashion houses when I was going to school—looking at the stores that were surrounding the Antwerp Academy and what was being shown at Paris—you would have a sportiness to a certain collection, but there was not that immediate link to real sports. I think part of the evolution has been that certain things have become more accepted. For example, if you look at something stupid like an elastic waistband. That was seen as something for a jogger’s pants or baby’s pants, but now everybody has elastic waistbands because there is something easy about them. But then again, you just have to look at the amount of gyms there are. Ten years ago in Belgium, going to the gym was something you couldn’t talk about loudly in public. It was totally not cool. Now, the gym and playing sports has become a much bigger part of life in an urbanized environment. When I left the Academy and started working for Adidas, it was not because I knew I was going to create high fashion, it was because I thought there was something interesting in the way the garments were constructed—the evolution of technology and how all these things were happening a lot faster there. And now you can see, after like 10 years, a lot of these technologies have been incubated in fashion.

I think in another time—like, the ’80s or ’90s—wearing sports clothes all day was a subcultural way of checking out of the white collar economy. But now with, say, billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg wearing hoodies, these types of separations no longer exist.
I think a number of brands have been developing this connection for the last 10 years. And a lot of these brands get bucketed into the “streetwear” category. I was just thinking about how when I was a kid—like 12, or 13—I had this huge O’Neill jacket with these extreme, snowboarding colors. I never went snowboarding in it, but it was cool and nobody had it. I remember I also had these Tommy Hilfiger track pants with the long zippers. And if you look at what Palace or Supreme are doing right now, it’s not that much different. I think the new thing is how this aesthetic has translated into something more innovative in menswear that’s now available to more groups.

When you started doing RLX, was it a challenge for you to make this sort of translation between high-performance wear and a heritage brand? What was the thought process there? Because when kids in the cities started wearing Polo Sport and Tommy Hilfiger in the 1990’s, that was a coup that happened on the consumer side, not the design side.
It was pretty much figuring out what Ralph Lauren was about. And then gradually I was able to think about how we could incorporate elements that went farther from like, “Oh, we’re creating a polyester t-shirt and track jackets.” I think it’s nice to keep certain elements of tailoring and fabrics like wools and cashmeres to bridge that gap. When you’re working on something innovative, you can balance that out with something more recognizable. Not traditional per se, but something known that’s comfortable. You don’t want everything to turn out like a space suit. Because that’s the other extreme, and that’s a lot easier to do in my opinion.

It’s interesting to hear you describe things in terms of “comfort,” because that’s almost an unspoken word when it comes to high fashion.
In my eyes, it’s not just talking about comfort. It’s about making things easier—easier to move around in, easier to make your day faster. When you live in New York, for example, a lot of things have to be tackled in one day. Clothes have to be able to give you that benefit.

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

Justin Bieber and Tim Hortons to Launch Biebs Brew
Food & Beverage

Justin Bieber and Tim Hortons to Launch Biebs Brew

All three Timbiebs flavors will also be returning to stores.

Tim Meadows Reportedly Joins Cast of 'The Mandalorian' Season 3
Entertainment

Tim Meadows Reportedly Joins Cast of 'The Mandalorian' Season 3

Supposedly appearing in a montage shown during the Star Wars Celebration event.

Netflix Drops First Teaser for Tim Burton’s ‘Wednesday’ Starring Jenna Ortega
Entertainment

Netflix Drops First Teaser for Tim Burton’s ‘Wednesday’ Starring Jenna Ortega

Following the story of a 16-year-old Wednesday Addams.


Watch Justin Bieber Star in New Tim Hortons Commercial for Biebs Brew
Entertainment

Watch Justin Bieber Star in New Tim Hortons Commercial for Biebs Brew

Following up his Timbiebs Timbits collab.

New Fashion Publication 'PRINT' Features Work From Frank Ocean, Terry Richardson, David Sims and More
Design

New Fashion Publication 'PRINT' Features Work From Frank Ocean, Terry Richardson, David Sims and More

Limited to just 1000 copies.

Wendy's Twitter Account Has Lost Its Chill
Food & Beverage

Wendy's Twitter Account Has Lost Its Chill

The redhead dishes out the beef.

Giuseppe Zanotti Teams up With Zayn Malik for an Exclusive Footwear Collection
Footwear

Giuseppe Zanotti Teams up With Zayn Malik for an Exclusive Footwear Collection

Aptly dubbed “Giuseppe for Zayn.”

UPDATE: Soulja Boy Did Not Get Robbed in Instagram Live Video
Music

UPDATE: Soulja Boy Did Not Get Robbed in Instagram Live Video

Chris Brown, Waka Flocka Flame, Ebro, Charlamagne & more react.

The Velvet Underground Founder Loves Chance the Rapper, Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples & More
Music

The Velvet Underground Founder Loves Chance the Rapper, Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples & More

John Cale’s forthcoming album is heavily inspired by modern rap.


Girl Scout Release S'Mores Cookies to Celebrate 100 Years of Selling Cookies
Food & Beverage

Girl Scout Release S'Mores Cookies to Celebrate 100 Years of Selling Cookies

And now with online ordering.

The 2016 FIFPro World XI Has Apparently Been Leaked Online
Sports

The 2016 FIFPro World XI Has Apparently Been Leaked Online

Is this the team of the year?

BAPE Gives Us a Sneak Peek at Its Year of the Rooster Collection
Fashion

BAPE Gives Us a Sneak Peek at Its Year of the Rooster Collection

In celebration of Lunar New Year.

Frank Ocean’s Mom Wants Kim Burrell Removed From "Godspeed"
Music

Frank Ocean’s Mom Wants Kim Burrell Removed From "Godspeed"

“Can we crop Kim Burrell’s voice out of your song?”

The Instapump Fury Gets a Striking Rooster Makeover for Chinese New Year
Footwear

The Instapump Fury Gets a Striking Rooster Makeover for Chinese New Year

Happy CNY.

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Looks like you’re using an ad-blocker

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. Support us by whitelisting our site.

Whitelist Us

How to Whitelist Us

screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Under “Pause on this site” click “Always”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock Plus icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Block ads on – This website” switch off the toggle to turn it from blue to gray.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlocker Ultimate icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Switch off the toggle to turn it from “Enabled on this site” to “Disabled on this site”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the Ghostery icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the “Ad-Blocking” button at the bottom. It will turn gray and the text above will go from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the UBlock Origin icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the large blue power icon at the top.
  3. When it turns gray, click the refresh icon that has appeared next to it or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the icon of the ad-blocker extension installed on your browser.You’ll usually find this icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You may have more than one ad-blocker installed.
  2. Follow the instructions for disabling the ad blocker on the site you’re viewing.You may have to select a menu option or click a button.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.