Stepping Forward

September 2014

Launched as a modest leather business in New York in 1941, Coach later became a leading handbag specialist under the control of Lillian Cahn and her husband Miles, before they sold the company to Sara Lee Corporation in 1985. Reed Krakoff became executive creative director 1996, spending 17 years with the brand and helping turn coach into a handbag powerhouse, locating a commercial sweet spot above mass-market but below the luxury goods groups.

A ready-to-wear line was launched this year, headed out by newly appointed British designer Stewart Vevers. With successful stints at Mulberry and Loewe, he has a reputation for breathing life into tired brands (and there has been a suggestion that some of the shine has come off Coach in the last few seasons.) The new collection, though driven by American Heritage tropes and nostalgia, is determinedly youthful. “We imagined a girl taking a journey around America that starts and ends in New York, picking up pieces along the way,” says Vevers. Outerwear is at it’s heart, with key pieces including a black and red houndstooth parka, alongside duffel coats, varsity jackets and shearling collars.

There’s a dreamy, retro ambience, in a wistful Kodachrome colour wash, in mustard, tan, and crimson, that summons 1970 suburbia. “We explored American iconography of the 1970s and 1980s, including images of photographer Joel Sternfeld,” says Vevers. “It’s about an ease and effortlessness rooted in American sportswear. Something that is inherently too cool and very personal, with an authentic American spirit.”