NEW YORK, United States — There’s always something intriguing about a European’s view of what being American means. Stuart Vevers’ take might be even more compelling than most, given than he has spent many holidays traveling the US by train, a method of transportation that often involves cramped quarters, strange stop-offs and, more romantically, the gorgeous, expansive views that define much of the American landscape. In fact, he’s probably seen more of the US than most people born and bred here.
Perhaps that’s why, after only two years at the all-American brand Coach, the designer has managed to establish a fresh identity for the label; and one that also seems to be commercially viable. According to the latest financial reports, sales — while still slow — are finally picking back up in North America.
For the label’s first-ever Pre-Fall collection, Vevers aimed to further explain himself. “[Pre-Fall] gives us an opportunity to clarify our vision,” the designer said at the showroom, standing among curved racks of shearling toggle coats and yoked dresses with rainbow piping. “I really wanted to be able to pull together all the different ideas we’ve been exploring within the last few seasons. That’s how we started. How do we want a rail of Coach clothes to look?”
Novelty, colour and youth culture come to mind. These teddy-bear faux-fur pea coats, calico floral patchwork bombers and crackle-leather shearling-tipped vests are tactile pieces just asking to be played with. The focus is certainly on outerwear, but Vever’s cute underpinnings — the shirtwaist dresses, embroidered sweatshirts and kicky leather skirts — deserve a mention as well. The designer says he wants the collection to look cool, but not in a self-conscious way. The introduction of an admittedly random dinosaur motif — intarsia-ed on sweaters, printed on a bandana and made into trinkets that dangle off the side of the line’s Rogue bag, a roomy top-hand style — make it clear that humour is also an element of the new Coach lexicon.