Settling in to his new role as executive creative director at Coach, Stuart Vevers has one aim – to add “cool”. If anyone can do this, he can. The 41-year-old Yorkshire-born designer brought magic to labels such as Mulberry, Bottega Veneta and Loewe – where he was creative director until joining American accessories brand Coach last year.
Something youthful, playful and, indeed, cool runs through all his work. As he puts it: “A lightness. I like the process to be as fun as the product. That’s what drew me into this industry and it comes through in my work.”
It certainly does in his debut collection for Coach (which is also the label’s first full clothing range). It’s explicit in a jumper decorated with stars and a rocket, or a scarf with puffs of fuzz on the ends, but fun is also subtly woven into everything. The clothes are made to muck around in. There are bomber jackets, boxy blousons and shearling styles with oversized pockets to fill up with finds. These are teamed with cross-body bags into which you can throw whatever you need.
Practical concerns have been a big inspiration to Vevers, especially since he moved to Manhattan. “Walking to work in the New York winter, I noticed all the women wore boots and sneakers,” he said. “I cancelled the heels for the show and the models had those instead.”
He believes his version of Coach returns to the brand’s 40s roots. “I want to look at what American luxury means,” he says. “It’s different from the traditional houses of Europe, more relaxed.”
He was inspired by the “spirit” of Bonnie Cashin – designer for Coach in the 60s and creator of its trademark toggle clasp – but avoided the heritage tag. “I thought about a take on those iconic bags but it didn’t feel new,” he said. “It’s about effortlessness – that is, inherently cool. That’s a vague word; it looks forward but has nostalgia – a combination that works for Coach.”