Today, athleisure is everywhere but the evolution of sneakers, from athletic accessory to fashion staple, has been building since the early 2000s. One brand was at the heart of this transition: Creative Recreation. Quickly earning a reputation amongst the creative trailblazers of Los Angeles, the Creative Recreation brand has built itself a legacy as the leader in streetwear.
Now, the brand is embracing a new audience of consumers with its latest collection for spring 2021. Behind this reinvention is the combined talents of Jason Jones and original Creative Recreation co-founder, Rich Cofinco. With these two design minds behind the upcoming product line, Creative Recreation is looking to infuse its brand with a bolt of energy, embodied in the brand new Zeus silhouette.
FN spoke with Cofinco and Jones about their creative partnership, the evolution of the brand and what consumers can expect in spring 2021.
FN: How has the brand’s identity evolved as we’ve entered a new year and a new decade?
Jason Jones: I think the biggest shift is positioning the brand to be more accessible to a diverse range of consumers. In the early days the brand garnered attention through the LA club scene, back when pure athletic shoes were not accepted as proper dress code for the better clubs. Creative Recreation became integrated with the LA streetwear culture and we want to tap back into that core, embracing our heritage while introducing the brand to the next generation of creative leaders.
Rich Cofinco: We created a new side logo that enables the brand to expand its identity and adapt a new look as we transition and transform for the next wave of CR fans. Yet, the identity of Creative Recreation remains unique, quality product for free spirits and creative fashion leaders.
FN: How does the team balance Creative Recreation’s distinctive DNA, while still embracing innovation and growth?
RC: Trends come and go so it’s important for us to stay true to our DNA – and we will. Our innovation and process remains the same: No rules, creative freedom, stay true to the original idea of the brand. When you wear Creative Recreation products, it’s recognizable.
JJ: Bringing Rich back to his CR roots as one of the original founders was the first step in identifying those key elements of the original brand DNA. It starts from the concept design process; from there everything goes through brand filters to ensure we stay true to ourselves and the brand vision.
FN: How has Creative Recreation developed as a brand since it first launched in 2002?
RC: In 2002, we didn’t have a core established. Nobody knew us. Today, Creative Recreation can make anything. We aren’t a brand that sticks to any certain lifestyle – we are a lifestyle. If we make tap dancing shoes, they’ll be the coolest tap shoes in the market. We follow inspiration wherever it leads and let the market follow. Our family of retailers and customers have an emotional attachment to Creative Recreation; And we are driven to keep them satisfied.
JJ: Undoubtedly, the introduction of the iconic “Cesario” style in the early days was a tipping point for the brand. As Rich referenced, the Cesario created a reliable core customer. This is still the style that the majority of old school CR fans will remember most fondly and it has become one of those rare timeless classics that remains relevant today. We will always update and make unique versions of the Cesario but our next development, the Zeus, launches in spring 2021.
FN: Tell us more about what long-time fans of the brand can expect in 2021?
RC: Unique styles with creative color combinations. There’s an energy to our new products that will catch the eye. We learned that the Cesario was an evergreen pattern that could be reimagined forever; now again with the Zeus, our big introduction for 2021, we have a design that can be reimagined with endless iterations that are easily recognizable.
JJ: Customers should expect a nod to our heritage products, along with some exploration of new design inspirations from Rich. These really push the brand in some fresh directions. Fans will start to notice the transformation through our consumer direct touchpoints in a narrative format this spring, as we begin to launch new product introductions.
FN: What is it like to work together on this brand?
RC: Jason is multitalented and even better, he gets the Creative Recreation DNA and mission. For us to collab and create together makes our products have more meaning because of the passion and understanding put into building the brand.
JJ: We all share a common passion for creative people, places, and things. We both understand what Creative Recreation is about. So, working with the original founder and design developer of CR – a brand that has captured the imagination of so many loyal fans – is exciting, enjoyable and rewarding.
FN: As a design partnership, how does the development process play out?
RC: As long as the partnership is in sync, the possibilities are endless. Our team is enthusiastic about the creative process; it never feels like work for any of us. Generally, I create the idea and we all discuss and kick around ways to improve the product. Jason is a genius at recognizing lines and shapes. He can tell if something on paper will execute in an instant.
JJ: To me, the ingredients must work together to bring an idea to market. Rich and I complement each other and lead all design and development for the brand. If Rich needs to design 10 new patterns, he can knock that out before lunch. He’s got limitless ideas in his head. So that means we must recognize the best of the best and perfect it, as part of the design equation.
FN: The upcoming collection introduces a brand new silhouette, the Zeus. What was the inspiration behind this style and how does it reflect the future direction of the brand?
RC: We integrated the concept of ancient Zeus and his lightning bolt and adapted it to the shoe. Positive, powerful energy is the fuel of creation and so this idea of energy plays into the “Bolt” logo. We’re looking to focus on fresh new looks that inspire a creative, young, entrepreneurial lifestyle. That’s why the Bolt fits the idea of the brand: An entrepreneurial lifestyle is one that takes boundless energy and optimism.
JJ: The new collection embraces our heritage but also pushes us forward to explore new directions. CR speaks to consumers who covet creativity in all aspects of their lives and who possess an entrepreneurial spirit to create their own individual paths to success.
FN: What are you most excited for with this new collection launch?
RC: Looking forward to the reaction. I’m anxious to watch it grow. Creative Recreation, as a brand, is back! The chemistry and the enthusiasm is real; the product we have created represents a lot of collaboration among talented people. The hardest part is waiting for the launch.
JJ: Introducing a new generation to Creative Recreation and continuing to drive the brand evolution. Like Rich said, waiting to see the shoes on our customers is the hardest part.