Has it ever occurred to you that maybe it’s a good thing time machines don’t exist? After all, one can only imagine the shocker it would be to a certain Miss Chanel or Mr. Dior were they to encounter (that too, on TikTok!) a model dragging Di)vision’s divisive tablecloth-dress across the runway, replete with half-consumed food and greasy utensils!
In fact, be it that infamous Gucci Twinsburg moment, or Schiaparelli’s animal kingdom-themed science project of a couture show, fashion’s obsession with viral marketing seems to have gotten rather out of hand lately. Gone are the days when heritage houses – once the paragons of primness and propriety – sent demurely-draped ladies through the halls of a private Parisian salon. Exposure now is the name of the game.
And in case you were wondering whether it was possible for a brand to really amp it up to “the next level,” to craft its identity entirely out of marketing brouhahas and newfangled gimmicks, and to devote itself to winning every last like-react? Well, then I’d direct you to Coperni, of course.
The Origin Story
Deriving its name from famed astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, who revolutionized planetary sciences by debunking the heliocentric solar system, the power couple behind the brand, Paris-based designers Arnauld Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer has a similar trajectory planned for Coperni. What perhaps comes as an even bigger surprise is that the brand marks a decade of existence this year, despite still exuding major start-up energy. How have its founding fathers achieved this unlikely combination of renown and relevance?
The story of Coperni begins with Vaillant, fresh out of stints at Chanel and Balenciaga, and Meyer, with a passion for design and mathematics, launching their own brand out of a shared love of fashion and of each other. Thus Coperni Femme was born in 2013, rapidly rising to critical acclaim after securing the ANDAM First Collections Prize in 2014 and the prestigious title of an LVMH Prize finalist in 2015. But 2015 was also when the historic French label, Courrèges, poached the duo for its much-hyped reboot, leading to an unofficial two-year hiatus for their brand.
By 2019, Coperni was back and better than ever. Determined to pave its own path in the rather restrictive arena of French fashion, the brand’s relaunch in the Spring Paris Fashion Week that year cemented its place among the who’s who of style, soon to be named one of the Brands to Watch in the Lyst Report of 2021, and with a digital presence as extensive (if not more) as a physical one!
In short, since its rebrand, Coperni’s rise to fame has been nothing short of astronomical (see what I did there?)
Swipe to Unlock
In hindsight, it’s not a surprise that Coperni so quickly managed to capture the attention of the fashion folk. Following its relaunch, the house has dressed Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Bieber, and even Rihanna, in her over-the-top, baby-bump era, with an equally embellished silver ensemble. On the runway, its experimental and, at times, brutalist outfits made waves; Coperni also being the only Parisian brand to host a physical show amidst COVID-19 restrictions at a drive-through stadium illuminated by car headlights!
But translating runway popularity into wearable silhouettes and sales in the real world is not an easy balance to strike.
Enter the Coperni Swipe Bag. Debuted as part of the FW19 collection, the Swipe is a rather unlikely it-bag, featuring a looping shape that pays homage to the iPhone’s “Swipe to Unlock” feature (some have also contested that it draws on the Bluetooth toggle button). In fact, the iPhone seems to be a recurring influence for the brand, one of their collections having been unveiled in an Apple store, and Steve Jobs’ daughter, Eve Jobs, even having made her runway debut at Coperni’s SS22 show!
A Gen-Z Staple
But back to the Swipe Bag. Drawing upon a techno-chic aesthetic from the otherwise rather sterile and monotone world of gadgets, the ironic value of the Swipe, which doesn’t fit most phones in the first place (and has not-so-practical zippers spanning the entire length of the handles) isn’t lost upon fans. With sizes ranging from a tote, a Baguette, and a melted Baguette, to a mini-iteration no bigger than small-ish smartphones and a micro which isn’t even that – the Swipe is unconventional and instantly recognizable.
Plus, with a squarely mid-range price point generally between $390 to $790 that delivers a far more realistic purchase prospect in an era of rampant price increases, it’s easy to see why the Swipe has become a staple of the Gen-Z wardrobe. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s also a favorite among Doja Cat, Dua Lipa, and Alexa Demie, who in Euphoria totes a version in her much meme-ified “Bitch, you better be joking” scene.
But what really makes the Swipe such a hit is its adaptability. Its sturdy, oval leather frame essentially provides a blank canvas, leaving everything to the designers’ imagination. Whether you want it in basic black or neon green, embellished with crystals, or enveloped in denim, Coperni has it all for you. And since the brand never misses the opportunity for a viral moment, it has released not only an entirely glass version of the Swipe but also one made of pure gold! Moreover, like its many performance-marketing stunts (such as Bella Hadid’s spray-on dress), Coperni’s latest collection, featured walking dog robots, seemingly straight out of the pages of I, Robot, exhibits a Swipe fashioned out of a 55,000 years old meteorite!
Sure, much of Coperni’s hype is built on gimmicks that are more social media-ready than real-life-ready. But every new trend and core-ified aesthetic out there essentially functions on the same grounds (I recently ascribed to pajama-core, where you, quite literally, just sit around in your pajamas). At the end of the day, you can either choose to look at the Swipe as a physical manifestation of the fast-paced, futuristic life we live or as a cute little Easter egg.
Guess what I chose?