Tim Coppens Has the Sporting Life

Tim Coppens’ collections infuse contemporary athleticism with extreme technical savvy and chic. “[The Tim Coppens man is] definitely interested in fashion, but not dressed in fashion labels from head to toe,” the Belgian Coppens tells Interview. “A sophisticated guy, with an edge and attitude.”

Coppens graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, and was subsequently senior designer for Adidas. Most recently, he held the design director position at Ralph Lauren’s sporty line RLX. “I have always loved to be active, from when I was very young,” Coppens says. “I am really into fencing at the moment—it has stylish movements, but at the same time can be very explosive, and you have to be very athletic to master it.”

The designer’s love for endurance isn’t hard to find in his eponymous, outerwear-heavy line, which Coppens began work on in 2011. “Even though I loved working for companies such as Ralph Lauren, my ambition has always been to venture out on my own and to be able to express my creativity in personal collections,” the designer states. Barneys NY scooped up his entire first season, which was inspired by the Academy Award-nominated French film Un prophète. “I have always been attracted to this banlieue vibe, and coming from Belgium, it is very familiar,” Coppens says of the movie. “I also liked the styling and the music of the movie—it has a very stylish flow with some arrogance mixed in.”

One piece that seems to emulate the spirit of Un prophète is the trendy Farahan varsity jacket, for which the designer cites the film’s star Tahar Rahim and “his roots” as inspiration. “I have always liked the varsity jacket as a style—when I was in high school it wasn’t as available in Belgium as it is here in the US,” Coppens explains. “I remember I bought my first one from Vision Street Wear in a skate shop in Oostende.”

He says the spring collection’s brown suede blouson with neoprene cuffs is his personal favorite. “The washed suede is super light, but still compact enough to keep a structured feel,” the designer adds. Coppens certainly remains confident in his talents as they gain more and more attention (he’ll be showing in New York this coming fashion week to much excitement), but he does mention his unpreparedness for the line’s received reactions. “I didn’t expect to get so much interest in such a short time,” Coppens admits. “It is really nice to get so much appreciation from people inside and outside the industry.” Get used to it, Tim.