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Fashion | Local Color / Made in California

He Sews, He Scores!

Larry Cooper Was Always the Man to Ask for Wardrobe Advice. Now a Custom Clothier, He Suits Up NBA Giants and Regular Guys

June 12, 1997|JOANNA DENDEL and MARY KAY STOLZ

The Designer: Larry J. Cooper

The Story: Born and raised in Shreveport, La., with four brothers and five sisters, who always had a "needle and thread in their hands," Cooper says. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978 and started his career here as a hospital financial counselor. Co-workers and even patients began asking for his advice on clothing. "I designed most of my own wardrobe, so before I knew it I was taking measurements, suggesting colors and creating outfits," he says.

In 1992, the hobby became a business: Hanging With Mr. Cooper Custom Clothiers. It's now the "Official Custom Shirt Provider" for the Los Angeles Lakers and their broadcast announcers.

The Goods: Each custom suit begins with a consultation, a color analysis and 40 different measurements. Shaquille O'Neal's English wool crepe suit in electric blue took seven yards of fabric, about twice the norm. The hand-stitching, bone button and silk lining are standard. While the silhouettes and lapel widths may follow fashion, colors vary widely from client to client.

Shirts of Egyptian or Swiss cotton are finished so beautifully "you could wear them inside-out," Cooper says. Monograms range from the traditional initials to the Superman logo, which O'Neal sports on his banded collar.

Prices ranges from $65 to $200 for a shirt and from $575 to $2,500 for a suit or tuxedo, depending on the fabric.

The Customer: Besides O'Neal, Magic Johnson, Cedric Caballos, Reggie Theus, Laker coach Del Harris, Laker announcers Chick Hearn and Stu Lantz, actor Damon Wayans and Walter Scott of the Whispers, Cooper counts regular guys among his many clients. "They come from all walks of life," he says, "doctors, lawyers, teachers, secretaries and NBA players."

The Inspiration: "Miss Lovie," his mom. "She was the most stylish woman. She instilled in me an attitude that I could be or do anything and encouraged me to not only do my part, but do it right and do it with pride," he says.

The Source: Contact Cooper directly at (800) 266-7515 or (714) 260-2048.

The Last Word: "I came to L.A. when I was 17, and this city has treated me extremely well. There are great people here and they want to look nice, even if they're not celebrities."

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