Marist men’s basketball senior forward Javon Cooley’s clothing brand, Chain Reaction, has released its newest collection, but this one is much more meaningful to him.
When we last spoke with Cooley, he was in the planning process of pop-up shops to get the Chain Reaction name out there, and in the past year and a half, he did just that. Now, on his second online release, Cooley has added to his resume.
Following his passion for fashion from a young age, Cooley continues to grow his brand. With the help of friends and teammates, it was another successful release, as he built anticipation for it on social media. In the week leading up to the drop date, each post on Chain Reaction’s Instagram account had one thing in common; “CHI 2 NY” featured in the caption.
This collection has a personal connection to Cooley, as it highlights his own journey that has led him to play college basketball here in New York. It features two items, a pair of shorts coming in brown and green, and a black fitted hat.
Both items show aspects of Chicago, where he grew up, and New York, where his clothing company has taken off. On the shorts, each leg features an outline of one state, while the fitted hat showcases Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees logos. Cooley never imagined he would call New York home, and he has basketball to thank.
“It’s meant a lot, honestly… a lot has happened in these past three years,” said Cooley, reflecting on his time at Marist.
On the court, Cooley has been a key member of the Marist team, averaging 4.5 points in a little under 18 minutes a game in the past three seasons. He had his best season as a Red Fox last year, starting 30 of 32 games.
He averaged seven points and four and a half rebounds in 26.7 minutes a game for a Marist squad that would reach their first-ever MAAC championship game. To help the Red Foxes get there, Cooley scored 10 and had six rebounds, an assist and a steal in Marist’s 69-57 semi-final victory over the defending champion St. Peter’s Peacocks.
Cooley took some lessons he learned on the court to his blossoming fashion brand. Having to juggle basketball, classes, and a growing business may seem daunting, but his years of playing basketball left him very well-prepared for the challenges a busy schedule brings.
“The hard work, the dedication it takes in basketball, it translates,” said Cooley.
Student-athletes at Marist already have a lot on their plate when balancing classes and their commitment to their sport, forcing them to learn valuable time management skills. With these skills in place, Cooley is able to fit in the time it takes to manage Chain Reaction.
Cooley also made the most of his time off the court at Marist, as he continues to grow his clothing brand. Marist’s location and its proximity to New York City opened his eyes in a fashion sense.
“What I like about New York is everybody is just themselves and embraced. You could see somebody walking down the street in something that you might not wear, but it’s cool to know that somebody else has that confidence to put on whatever it is that makes them feel comfortable,” said Cooley.
Knowing how much this experience taught him about himself and fashion, he knew it was something he needed to share.
“Coming out here to New York, that just opened my eyes so much. It’s like, how could I not share this with other people?” said Cooley.
Before the last school year came to a close, Cooley participated in the 37th annual Silver Needle Runway, Marist’s fully student-run fashion show. His experience as a model in the show introduced him to many designers and models that he is still close with to this day.
Modeling is also something that Cooley has an interest in pursuing in the future, and the Silver Needle Runway helped him gain first-hand experience in doing so.
“Overall, it was a great experience just to be able to see different collections from the different designers that SNR had,” said Cooley
The last Chain Reaction release was featured in MPorium, an on-campus boutique store with its items created by students at Marist College. Students are also in charge of running and maintaining both the online and in-person store.
Cooley kept a strong relationship with its faculty advisor, Professor Rebecca Brown, and once again, Chain Reaction can be found in the Steel Plant Building’s store. The partnership could not have come at a better time for both sides.
Earlier this semester, MPorium announced the theme for the store in Fall of 2023; “Dear New York.”
“It actually is just a coincidence… she [Brown] was telling me the theme and not to tell anybody at the time,” said Cooley.
With the store focused on Marist’s relationship with New York, Cooley’s collection fits right in. All Marist students have a special connection to the city, and Cooley is conveying his through Chain Reaction’s latest release.
“I just wanted to add a personal aspect to this drop, letting people know that it’s cool to embrace where you come from and always carry that with you. It’s cool to chase after your dreams because everything is achievable,” said Cooley.
Chasing his dreams led to photo shoots and content creation in New York City, but he is sure to remember his roots in Chicago, and that’s exactly what he set out to represent with the collection.
But going forward, Cooley is unsure what his future holds after his time at Marist comes to a close.
“I mean, I’m in the mindset of whatever happens, happens, but I really don’t know,” said Cooley.
Before he can focus on what comes next for himself and his brand, he has his senior season ahead of him. Following an underdog run to the MAAC championship game, the Red Foxes have their sights on finishing the job this time.
“We got some nice pieces… everything’s gelling together right now. We’re in our grind mode right now, so we just got to keep practicing,” said Cooley.
If all goes to plan for Cooley and Marist this year, Chain Reaction apparel may be worn at the biggest stage of college basketball, the NCAA Tournament.
Edited by Jimmy Tsiantoulas and Dan Aulbach
Graphic by Cara Lacey; photos via Javon Cooley