Coach's waterfront-themed bonanza pays homage to New York's coastline; Lil Nas X is new brand face
Stuart Vevers has perfected the art of storytelling in his runways shows for Coach to the point of theatre. The brand's Spring 2023 show was no exception, and, in this case, a New York City idea of the beach was the setting to deliver Coach's message for spring that underscored the advancements of its leather products and their fluid nature.
"We had a place in mind that I wanted to bring to life. These characters bring to life some of the stories that might have happened at some point on a New York City pier," Vevers said post-show backstage.
To that end, he conjured a cowboy, a sailor, a young hetero couple, a Vogue-ing ballroom family, and a detective-type carrying a red balloon; all dressed in Coach monogram fabric outfits who intersected au natural in a manufactured sunrise.
As the pier-style stage lit up, his models also told a story, each grouped and separated by pacing to deliver the brand's seasonal message, which invariably is leather; in this case, warm weather styles.
"I was playing with the idea of leather to show more skin on this New York-version beach—Coney Island, The Rockaways, Jones Beach, or the piers— especially after a night out, jump on the train and go to the beach maybe still wearing the same jacket, but they stripped down to puddle around the water," he explained.
To that end, oversized boxy work shirts were shown for any gender, often paired with jelly sandals or sneakers and bare legs. A new messenger-style 'Tabby' bag was worn with almost every look and could have been a book satchel.
The vignettes continue to highlight a reworked fisherman with colorful knit patches, flirty fit-n-flair satin dresses worn with mary janes, leather dress-slash-vest coats; varsity-inspired sweaters and dresses that called out 'Coach' on a series of five looks, each bearing a letter. Each style was for everyone and anyone to wear. The school references were subconscious but not accidental, Vevers said.
"Maybe it's because these things feel youthful. Since we returned to the runway last spring, it felt like it was the moment to look forward to the next generation," acknowledging the vast amount of Tik Tokers in his front row. There were also traditional celebrities such as P.J. Tucker.
Doja Cat, Charli XCX, Moses Sumney, Coi Leray, and Debby Ryan, among others. As for a celebrity endorsement, Lil Nas X, aka Montero, walked the runway and closed the show.
The brand announced the barrier-breaking rapper, who highly embraces his same-sex preferences, will be the brand's new ambassador. This comes on the heels of Vevers' outfitting him for his latest tour.
The executive creative director looks to the next generation for cues to drive the look of his ever-increasingly genderless collections.
"That is how they are; it's much more fluid. We speak to the models and see what they are into. It inspires you to put things together in a more fluid way," he notes, adding the brand does street casting, looking for characters with a sense of style.
The most poignant way the brand looks to the next generation may be its work with end-of-life leather garments they rework into new pieces seen on the runway (such as the leather vest and shorts Montero wore to close the show).
The circular clothes support another important brand mission, the '(Re)Loved'.
"We take that bag at the end of life, refurbish them or customize it. If we can't, we take it apart and remake it, giving the craftspeople guidelines. We are currently recruiting creative craft people for this work because we are growing so much in this area," Vevers said.
That was music to Governor Kathy Hochul's ears, sitting in the front row at her first Coach show. She spoke to FashionNetwork.com about the significance.
"I really wanted to attend an iconic American brand that stands out, and it had to be Coach. They are doing so well with the expansion; I am all about more jobs, more storefronts, more online presence, and anything I can do to help a brand like Coach, I will," said the Governor pre-show.
She also used the show as an opportune time to announce $10 million in funding for Fashion Innovation Center. In her interview with FashionNetwork.com, Governor Hochul also stressed the importance of retaining manufacturing.
"The craftsmanship, the people who do the beading on costumes on Broadway. That work is a science and art form passed on from generation to generation. If we lose older people, who knows what talent will take their place? That is what I focus on finding the next generation to keep these jobs alive, the creative class and genius evolving," she stressed.
"This is a robust industry, but after the pandemic, many designers, seamstresses, and fabric vendors were just trying to hang on for dear life. We realize what we almost lost, and now our challenge is to build them back up. That has been a challenge. Some left, so we have to remind them that NYC is the epicenter of global fashion, and we want the most talented fashion workers to come here," she added.
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