Interview with Brand Co-Creator, Johanne Wilson
On the Cool Creative Brand:
We have been in business for about five years. My husband and I have started COOL after being in the arts and design industry for over 15 years. As creatives, we try to spread our wings in different areas. We focus on video branding, design marketing, and digital web. Fashion, though not a core part of the business, has always been a passion of ours and [the collection] has become larger than what we initially thought. So now we are thinking about how it fits into the overall vision of the company. COOL stands for "Create Out of Love." For us, everything comes from the heart. It's more than just doing pretty work, but also being thoughtful about what we do.
What was the inspiration behind the ICONS Collection?
This is the age of the NOW generation, which is spearheaded by social media. They haven't had the "luxury of struggle." They have different interpretations of struggle and sacrifice than previous generations. The ICONS Collection is an attempt to bring some substance to today's innovation. Since fashion is very influential with the NOW generation, we chose it as the canvas to promote the heroes and heroines of the past.
How would you describe the line's aesthetic?
There are a lot of military influences in our pieces. We are pushing the message that it is time to organize, to get involved in our community, and join organizations on a local level that are doing the work. We drew inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement for the styling of the collection. We looked at photos of the Black Panthers and drawing from a time when young people were active. We also got another set of inspiration from the TV show, A Different World. The young, educated, conscious hip-hop vibe is throughout the collection. From a pure fashion sense, the color black represents timelessness, and the people we are highlighting in the collection are timeless. The impact and the contrast of black and white makes a bold statement.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned starting the line?
One lesson is to not being afraid to take risks and create less. We decided to make ICONS a bullet collection, we make six pieces and then move on to the next; this keeps it fresh for us and makes the pieces exciting for the consumers. In an age of mass production, we are offering special pieces that we hope will be passed down as vintage items.
Who do you love to see wear the ICONS collection?
Beyoncé for sure, she has not been shy in talking about what she believes in. She has been going for it and not being shy about it. Jesse Williams, he's another one who does not shy away from using his platform to speak out. I would also love to see the Icons that we feature who are still living in our work. Also, Common has also really influenced our work; his Black America Again album inspired our whole presentation.
We are introducing some Latino Icons in April, Celia Cruz and Frida Kahlo. We believe ICONS come in all shapes and colors. We also have Mother Teresa complete and ready for release. Since we are artists, we want to explore more artists, so we have Basquiat coming. We are also exploring what makes someone iconic and what icons represent family, love, joy or laughter.
What quote or affirmation do you live your life by?
I can do all things through Christ.
We are creating this work ourselves. We are drawing these icons. Everything we do is from the heart. There is doubt in the creative process and the way we keeping going is to remember as long as it comes from the heart it will do what it is meant to do.