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How Stuart Vevers made Coach a fashion brand to reckon with

How Stuart Vevers made Coach a fashion brand to reckon with

After a design career spanning two decades at labels like Calvin Klein, Mulberry, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Loewe, Stuart Vevers brought his magic touch to Coach in 2013 to turn the leather accessories giant into a flourishing fashion house.

For its Spring/ Summer 2018 collection, he paid homage to the American pop-art artist Keith Haring, bringing his motifs alive with glitter, lace, floral and tassels. Now, its Fall/Winter 2018-19 line—a heady cocktail of yesteryear America mixed with urban New York—oozes barnyard-chic. Ready for dropped waistlines, mini florals, ebony leather fringes and charmed jewellery? Vevers breaks down his vision for the upcoming season.

ELLE: What did you envision for Coach when you joined?
Stuart Vevers: I did want to make a change; it felt necessary to create a complete reset for the house. It was about exploring the values of the house and what makes it different—and making that feel current. I am proud that Coach is now first and foremost a fashion house (before Vevers, Coach was predominantly known for its leather goods). As we continue to define and set the direction for Coach, I am excited to expand and encompass a more modern vision of America.

ELLE: Your English roots have seamlessly blended into Coach’s American aesthetic. Was it ever a challenge?
SV: Not being from the country where the house originated can actually be helpful. It means that you can explore obvious references and not be too precious with them, since you didn’t grow up with them.

ELLE: What drew you aesthetically to Coach?
SV: Definitely the very American values of the company— like freedom and openness. And Coach offered me something different. I’d spent close to 20 years working in traditional European luxury. Coach is American, and America is associated with an attitude. In one word, it is ‘cool’. The French have chic, but America has cool. And Coach is also about New York City, which implies a certain swagger. It’s about ease, utility and fun, and that can bring a new perspective to luxury.

ELLE: What is your favourite piece from the collection, and why?
SV: We played with American heritage sportswear this season. I love the signature hoodie. We continued to recontextualise our signature fabric. The hoodie features western tassels and spiky whip stitching, highlighting our leather craft.

ELLE: Mini bags are clearly here to stay. We see plenty of them in this collection. Why do you think they are such a big trend?
SV: I think small bags are nostalgic, charming and feminine. We played with a lot of hardware: locks and chains in a brass finish. It’s a more playful and whimsical bag that is still functional.

ELLE: The bags feature unusual combinations of materials—how do you make them work together?
SV: We explored the tension between luxury and utility; between what’s from the country and what’s from the city—and you see that reflected in the bags. We embraced unexpected juxtapositions, imperfections, and personalisations. There’s whip stitching, thorny roses, found objects and feathers highlighting our craftsmanship, but applied as if they were found by the wearer. Individuality and personality are important to the Coach guy and girl.