Interview with Reese De Luca (he/him/his)
Creative Director at [REESEDELUCA]®
Montreal, Quebec, Canada — Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” but Reese De Luca’s friends aren’t so convinced. “My friends say I have a horseshoe stuck up my ass, because luck seems to follow me,” he says with a laugh. “I’d like to think it’s just karma for being a good person.”
Born and raised in a small town in Quebec, Canada, the fashion industry veteran drew early inspiration from TV and music: “As a kid growing up in a world where being gay was something newer. It was important for me to find people to look up to who were vocal that it was ‘ok to be gay.’ Elizabeth Montgomery (from Bewitched) was an avid activist for gay rights and AIDS research. I used to watch Bewitched reruns until 2:00 am on Nick At Nite. Even though I was too young to understand exactly what it meant, I knew that she was ok with me being me. Victoria Beckham and The Spice Girls were other “heroes” who helped me realize being gay was ok.” And once Reese was old enough to start selecting his own clothing, he was determined to do anything but blend in.
At the age of 16, karma threaded a major turning point in his life, when he landed a job at SpaceFB, a flagship fashion boutique of French designer, François Beaurégard, who produced locally and was a trailblazer in the world of casual comfort. “I would see him work, having his own store, creating and naming clothing after his friends and I thought to myself, ‘I can do that and I want that too!’” It was through this experience that Reese launched his first accessories collection. Despite his young age, starting his own business came naturally to him. This was the catalyst for helping to forge his brand.
When he went on to study International Business and Marketing at Northeastern University in Boston, he felt his career goals begin to shift, from business to a more creative emphasis. A google search for fashion schools ranked California’s FIDM at the top of the list. The serendipity of it all couldn’t have been more fitting, as he’d been in awe of Los Angeles, thanks to his childhood obsession with Clueless, and had dreams of living in LA on his mind ever since.
He applied without telling his parents, got accepted and then told them, “By the way, I got accepted to FIDM, I want to go into product development for fashion, I love business but I need more. That’s what brought me to LA and that’s what made me the designer I am today.”
While at FIDM, he continued juggling day jobs with his studies, styling celebrity clients such as Sarah Paulson and Carrie Ann Moss, and somehow found time to launch another collection, “Fallen Pryde by Reese De Luca.”
“I was obsessed with Juicy Couture because it was the epitome of California cool at the time and my first few weeks of school, when I started learning the concepts of how I could launch my own brand, I actually launched sweats and hoodies that were Juicy-esque with my own little sayings on the back. So I started selling it, and my goal was, ‘I have to work for Juicy!’ After graduating from FIDM in 2003, with a degree in Merchandise Product Development, his dream came true: he secured an internship at Juicy Couture. Within a month, he had moved up to Assistant Designer in their denim department, where he created new styles for the men’s division, and even developed new stitching techniques for denim.
But karma was about to take his career up a notch, whisking him away on a whirlwind of fortuitous experiences. After applying on a whim to a new Ashton Kutcher-produced MTV game show, You’ve Got A Friend, Reese’s winning personality proved just as impressive as his fashion expertise, outshining the other featured contestants on the show. He won $15,000 which allowed him to invest in himself, placing his brand on celebrities like the Olsen Twins and Tara Reid, but the stars truly aligned when his designs and unforgettable personality helped spark a friendship with his childhood inspiration – Posh Spice herself – Victoria Beckham:
“Back when she was designing for Rock & Republic, I received front row tickets through a friend to R&R’s fashion show presenting her first collection, which included access to the VIP lounge.” To his surprise, she inquired about the t-shirt he was wearing: “I was wearing a blazer at the time and she said, ‘Oh!’ opening my blazer wide so she could see what it said, and she said, ‘WHERE did you get that?’ and I was like, “Oh it’s mine! I made it!” And she said, ‘Can I get one?’ And I was like, ‘YES!’ I was on cloud 9.”
Here he was, an early 20-something who was working out of his apartment, where he kept all of his products and had no store. The next thing he knew, she invited him to bring his designs over to her house, and he met her husband and the kids. It was so surreal and the beginning of a special friendship. “She wore one of my shirts on the cover of a newspaper a few weeks later.”
This was just the start of his noteworthy resume which includes: serving as Head Designer for William Rast (founded by Justin Timberlake), Design Director for I Jeans by Buffalo and Nevada, and Designer for Fred David, among others.
Currently living in Montreal, he typically travels between Montreal and LA. He looks forward to opening a flagship store one day, either in LA or Tokyo, and to growing the brand into a full lifestyle collection.
“I guess people can feel my passion, that maybe speaks to someone on a different level and if I can inspire someone to do their own thing or even to pay it forward somehow in the community that would be amazing.”
Pictured: [REESEDELUCA]® founder Reese De Luca
Pictured: Victoria Beckham with Reese De Luca
What is the fabric that makes up the [REESEDELUCA]® brand?
There is such a divide in the industry now due to issues like fast fashion or ethical manufacturing. While the previous iteration of my brand was designer level and retailed at a high price point, I want to be able to bring that level of quality, detail and fit that you find in a high-priced item and find a way to evolve it into something more accessible. I don’t design for a specific gender, so I even took this a step further by removing gender from the equation.
What does “Pride” mean to you and what qualities make a good ally?
Pride can mean whatever you want it to mean. Just do your thing, love everyone and we’ll be good to go. I prefer to celebrate by inspiring other people to do more. A non-judgmental attitude. You need to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and truly understand where they are coming from.
Do you have any products or initiatives in the works?
I don’t want to launch initiatives to just have them. It has to be authentic to me and the brand and I prefer long-term initiatives in lieu of “promotional” ones. I think it’s really important to give back whenever you can. We partner with One Tree Planted to offset our carbon footprint by planting one tree for each order placed on our website. I only make my goods in small batches with family-owned factories who adhere to my strict ethical guidelines and pay sewers above average living wages. I’m working on a capsule for Pride right now, where $5 from each item will go towards a LGBTQ+ focused charity.