coach celebrates its 75th birthday with an ode to american subcultures

Creative director Stuart Vevers piled on the prints for spring/summer 16, in tribute to his favorite girl gangs of surfers, bikers, cowgirls and skaters.

by Alice Newell-Hanson
16 September 2015, 5:50pm

Yesterday, Coach marked its 75th anniversary by bringing the American prairies to New York City. In a sunlit atrium on the High Line, filled with wild tallgrass that swayed gently in the breeze, models walked in ditsy floral print skirts mixed together with clashing animal prints. It was an all-American mashup that openly referenced Badlands but equally owed some of its edge to True Romance. Interestingly enough, that film itself pays homage to Terrence Malick's classic; like the clothes, the backstory was woven together from layers on layers on layers of American heritage.

Backstage, creative director Stuart Vevers spoke about paying tribute to the great melting pot of subcultures he sees in New York. The collection expressed his nostalgia for the great American outdoors with calico coats, meadow prints and suede cowboy jackets, but he "juxtaposed that with skate culture, goth culture, all these countercultural references that I'm obsessed with."

And like all of us, Vevers is a diehard Instagram fan. He uses the app as a resource for seeing how various girl gangs dress in real life, he explained. "I'm a voyeur into the lives of these people -- seeing how they mix stuff together. It's not about a retro look at skate culture, it's about today." That realness came through in the way he paired a prairie-print tea dress with zippered tiger-print boots, or a mohair sweater (straight-up 1993 Patricia Arquette) with a billowy tiered cowgirl skirt.

The bags too — the brand's bread and butter — felt tailormade for a new class of Coach girl. There were still Coach signatures like that classic turnlock closure and saddle leather. But there were also brilliant, zany multicolor leather patchwork styles and little satchels covered in appliqued leather roses.

"It was about finding that balance between how much you look back and how much you look forward," said Vevers. "I felt, fundamentally, that the best way to celebrate our 75th anniversary was to really boldly look forward. This [collection] was about exploring what American luxury and what Coach means to the next generation." He looked at the Coach archives from the 70s -- which inspired the all-natural, earthy ease -- but equally relevant to the brand's identity in 2015 were the pack of Coach-clad cool girls taking pictures of themselves in the front row yesterday.

"It's about individuality and personality coming through," said Vevers about the brand's timeless, eclectic spirit. And nothing could have expressed that better than the pairing of Debbie Harry and Zoë Kravitz, who sat side by side chatting before the show began.

Read more i-D fashion month coverage here. 


Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Jason Lloyd-Evans

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spring/summer 16
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75th birthday