Some mornings, Stuart Vevers steps out the front door of his Upper West Side townhouse, sees a yellow cab whizz by, and has a pinch-me moment. “Not being from New York, and not being from the States, I still am very inspired, very excited by everyday things,” the Coach creative director told me at a preview ahead of his tenth anniversary show.
It’s that dual insider-outsider perspective that has made Vevers’ Coach feel special and, despite its enormity: personal over the past ten years. In many ways the Doncaster-hailing designer epitomises the American Dream.
Ahead of his spring/summer 2024 show, Vevers was feeling reflective about his ten year tenure. “Coach brought me to New York City. In the last ten years I got married, became a father to two. It’s changed my life,” he said. His husband, Benjamin Seidler, their children River and Vivienne, and his father (attending his first ever fashion show) sat on the front row at the New York Public Library this Thursday evening. They were alongside the brand’s celebrity fans and ambassadors including Jennifer Lopez, Lil Nas X, Dove Cameron and Camila Mendes.
Despite the old New York grandeur of the location, the set was stripped back. It felt intimate, with a soundtrack in tribute to his friend, the late Pulp bass guitarist Steve Mackey, who Vevers had collaborated with for over 20 years.
Eschewing the bombastic scale of many of his former shows - with their life-sized stage-sets and live performances - the narrative arc of his collections was implicit. As with books, a bit of imagination was required.
Vevers took a cue from his fashion memories. In an approach he found liberating, inspiration came from Vevers’ take on New York style archetypes – from “girls dancing in the Pyramid Club in slip dresses” to “the cool young female execs stepping out in their town cars, post power dressing and reinventing the suit.”
Collegiate T-shirts and sweatsuits were printed with the logo of classic Upper East Side steakhouse, Donohue’s, which have all the makings of a cult hit. Oversized jackets were seen with bare legs, ripped knit maxi dresses, and bags that are actually big enough to facilitate the demands of real-life, all contributed to the feeling of the show being a celebration of personal style; of instinctive dressing, and of the beauty of the everyday.
Over the course of his time as creative director at Coach, one of Vevers’ triumphs has been his ability to respect the brand’s history and origins story, while making it relevant to a whole new audience. He has done that through thoughtful culture building. Vevers’ Coach stands for something.
This season saw the brand evolve its circular craft program Coach (Re)Loved. The collection included deadstock leatherware and denim, as well as grunge slip dresses crafted with lace, and fabric left over from previous productions. This emphasis on sustainable, alternative materials made the brief interlude from PETA protestors at Thursday’s fashion show feel odd. The house also continued to work with regenerative and recycled materials, as well as botanical dyes derived from marigolds, black walnut, and more.
As for the next ten years? “One of the things I love about fashion is that I have no idea what’s going to come next, because I think at best we reflect what’s happening in the world, that always excites me,” he said. “What I’m sure of, is that at Coach we’ll keep challenging the rules around fashion and luxury and disrupting.”
Vevers echoed that sentiment at the after-show dinner, saying the brand had allowed him to realise something he had always believed in: that fashion “should be about joy, about celebration - and to paraphrase one of my heroes, Keith Haring, it should be for everyone.”