FRASER COOKE, THE SNEAKERS CONNECTOR

For someone like Fraser Cooke, a white-collar job in a brokerage house didn’t seem like the best way to introduce himself in the job market. He started doing skate in the seventies, so Cooke’s references seemed closer to clubbing, art and music than that of an office job. In the London scene where he surrounded himself with Mondino or Ray Petri, Fraser seemed to be more interested in what was happening in the streets than in the stock exchange.

And the right place seemed to be Cuts, an extremely tiny hair salon that was owned by James LeBon who knew how to create an atmosphere of creators, artists and press in which you’d usually meet people like David Bowie, Boy George or Neneh Cherry. During the eighties, Fraser Cooke simultaneously worked as a hairdresser, DJ and stylist and any other creative activity that could come up from his surroundings.

In the nineties, he started to work as a buyer for Passenger, a store that tried to take the New Yorker style to London and that’s when the possibility of becoming a distributor in the UK for Pervert, one of the original American streetwear brands, came up. Cooke also worked at The Face or i-D and accepted his roommate James Lavelle’s proposal, to become an A&R for a newly created record label, Mo´Wax.

Michael Kopelman brought to London brands like Supreme, Stüssy, Visvim or NBHD through the distributing company Gimme 5 . Along with him, Cooke entered the retail market with Hit and Run, which would later become The Hideout, the first point of sale for Japanese streetwear brands in London, mixed with Cooke’s American influence. Sneakers were a fundamental part of The Hideout, which led them to create Footpatrol, a sneaker boutique that during its independent run was the benchmark when it came to special editions and re-editions.

It was then when he arrived at Nike, a brand which despite their obvious connection to sports, it served as a vehicle for the artistic and social development of different groups. Fraser Cooke was the perfect link for different subcultures and their work strategy through collaborations has been revealed as a new method of understanding the relationship between brands and artists.

Cooke has been able to join the American scene, which has been the grounds for streetwear to exist, with the new Japanese style. Without Cooke, collections like Gyakusou or HTM wouldn’t have been understood, but his work goes well beyond the product, with campaigns and collaborations like the Os Gemeos, Michael Lau or the forgotten White Dunk, a 2003 exhibition that used the Nike Dunk as a starting point for creation. Without a doubt, the busiest of his projects is the one that connected Nike with Virgil Abloh, which started with the product and continued its debate with Spike Lee, Heron Preston or Kim Jones.

A name that, from the shadows, has been able to turn Nike into an environment that is full of cultural references.