Practical Magic

September 2014

This season’s appealing merger of utility and luxe is being expertly handled by Stuart Vevers at Coach, says Sarah Harris

Question: when charged with reinventing and all-American leather goods brand, what does a British designer do on day one of the job? Answer: well, like most designers new to the helm of the storied house, they find their feet with a visit to the archive. That was one of the first things on Stewart Vevers to-do list when he landed at Coach. But to little avail. “The archives are incredible, but I didn’t explore them as much as I thought I would,” he reveals doing a walk-through of his collection in New York. I started playing around with a few ideas, but it felt too much like looking back, so instead I started thinking more about how Coach should look now.

In theory, that could’ve been anything, since theaters had an entirely blank canvas—his debut ready-to-wear collection is also a first for the 70-year-old accessory house.

“I wanted it to have a lightness of spirit, to feel playful and useful.”

The idea of American sportswear really intrigued me; it’s often the starting point of something really inherently cool.” These criteria manifested in the collection that’s a little bit preppy and a whole lot Americana; cue oversized duffel coats in super-soft toffee sheepskin and others in blown-up red houndstooth; shearling-lined boxy jackets, white shirts with lariat fastenings, leather miniskirts with patch pockets, and chunky knits.

Hiking or rubber-wedge soles and are lined and cosy shearling. He overhauled the bags, too; remember, Vevers is no stranger to hit-making accessories—it’s a skill that goes back to his days at Mulberry. Personality-packed hobos stream with fringes, while others have whipstitch chains or come with leather feather charms.

Vevers’s references may be basic, familiar things—a denim jacket, the firefighter’s coat, a workman’s boot—but his aesthetic is firmly rooted in luxe. “That’s a fascinating part of it, elevating the elemental and bringing this idea of luxury to a wider audience—the tension between utility and luxury craftsmanship feels very Coach,” he insists. And all at an appealing price point. “We’ve worked hard to keep prices at the affordable end. Being able to offer a beautiful shearling coat for substantially less than other luxury houses—to me that’s exciting.”