THE BRIT BEHIND THE NEW COACH RECLAIMS THE HERITAGE OF AN AMERICAN CLASSIC
Growing up in the ’80s in the north of England, Stuart Vevers’s introduction to American fashion came through movies. “Working Girl was one of my favorite films. American fashion meant New York to me.” And now, after logging time at Mulberry in his native U.K. and at Loewe in Madrid, plus gigs at Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton, the 40-year-old designer is now calling New York home as the recently appointed executive creative director of Coach.
Vevers studied fashion at the University of Westminster, but it’s his touch with accessories—namely creating some of the most sought-after “It bags” of the past decade (Luella Bartley’s “Gisele” and Givenchy’s “Pumpkin,” among them) and overhauling the once-fusty Mulberry and Loewe houses into of-the-moment brands—that caused the fashion world to take notice. “There was a real desire for change from Coach. That really appealed to me,” Vevers explains of his move to take the reins at the 73-year-old American leather goods brand, helmed for the past 16 years by Reed Krakoff. “When I had the opportunity to play in the archive, I had a really good look and then turned away from it,” he says. “I wanted to rediscover Coach in a new way.”
Vevers’s ready-to-wear outing for fall, the brand’s first, sought to reposition Coach’s Americana roots into a metropolitan setting, reinventing rangy utilitarian staples like the humble jean jacket, work boot, and shearling coat in luxe fabrications and fresh color pairings. “Having spent so many years working in traditional European Luxury wear, it’s often about striving for perfection,” Vevers says. “I wanted something that was about authenticity.”
Vevers dispatched his team to do field research at workwear manufacturers in Tennessee and found inspiration in classic American cinema, specifically Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, nodded to in the collection’s rich red, brown, and russet palette (reminiscent of the Overlook Hotel’s kaleidoscopic carpet) and a cheeky take on the Apollo 11 sweater worn by little Danny Torrance in the film. But while Coach is stepping forthrightly into womenswear, its bags equally match form and function, updated in fringed cross-body styles, roomy two-toned totes, and tweaks on the brand’s signature turn-lock hardware. It’s a pitch-perfect turn for Vevers’s Coach girl. “There’s this effortlessness and ease about her,” he says. “She has a sense of freedom.”