Evolving from last season's more rebellious rock and roll theme, Stuart Vevers still managed to distill a sense of nostalgia in his Fall/Winter 2017 collection. The creative director has been accredited as the key driver behind the massive turnout for Coach. Delivering top line growth, the American brand is in a winning position to continue watching revenues rise. Vevers’ massive shake-up came at the perfect time, and his successful approach to reaching a younger audience is paying off. With young faces such as Chloë Grace Moretz fronting the Coach campaign and Selena Gomez sitting front row, the British designer knows where his next customer is coming from, while also understanding and respecting the value of timeless design and the beauty of craft.
The creative director was kind enough to give us some of his time backstage after the show to talk about why New York is important to him, what inspires him, and why there is no room for strategy in passion.
Coach Ready to Wear Fall Winter 2017 New York Fashion Show (by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION)
Robin Torres: The collection presented an association between what you presented in the show notes as “the prairie and the city.” Please tell us a bit about the juxtaposition? Is this mostly New York you’re alluding to?
Stuart Vevers: The juxtaposition is very personal. Of course I'm referencing New York City because Coach is a New York City brand, but I'm not from New York so I walk around still a little bit dazed by it. It's genuinely inspiring. I wasn't here in the late 70s and early 80s, and I look back on these times and I imagine what was going on. I am very nostalgic about that era. I imagine what was going on. I want to visualize it.
(ponders) I mean, I love the way people put their looks together back in the day. It was fresh. There was a lot of energy and creativity.
RT: In the show notes, you also mention an element of “early New York Hip-Hop” as an inspiration. Did you ever listen to HipHop when you were younger?
ST: No, not really. The first version of Hip Hop I was listening to was the Beastie Boys.
RT: So more in the 90s then?
ST: Yeah, I would say so.
RT: So in a way, you did sort of live New York despite being so far away from it, through others?
ST: Exactly! I think we all did. That’s why my references are music and cinema. That’s why Badlands was such a big reference; it was released the year I was born. These were my first glimpses of America so they all have that Hollywood glow to them. It’s nostalgia for something I've watched on the silver screen, that I grew up partly infatuated with.
RT: So was this was mostly a cultural or say aesthetic juxtaposition, not necessarily a symbolically political or social one?
ST: I make clothes. Of course what's in my head goes into these clothes, but it's a celebration. My references were both the country and the city, so it's like a mash up of both of those worlds. This is a celebration of positive things. It's about optimism; the casting is about characters and individuality.
RT: And speaking of individuality, tell us a bit about all those patches and embroideries on the jackets and coats – were they all unique?
ST: Well, here the idea is of customization. It is about individuality, it’s about character. I like the idea of approaching craft in a new way and in an American way. That, to me, is not about things being precious, formal, or perfect. It’s about them having attitude and being cool.
RT: Switching subjects if you don’t mind. How do you feel about social media influencing designers and possibly even their designs, or the way in which it seems to be changing the industry of fashion? Is it valuable?
ST: I feel it’s a good way for Coach, or even for me, to connect with our clients immediately. But the content needs to be inspiring, it needs to be intelligent. It’s immediate and it’s not going to go anywhere. Things have changed and there’s probably no going back – so whether it’s valuable or not depends on how it’s used.
RT: Is it something you take into consideration when you think about your design or your collection?
ST: No! The show is a moment for me and my design team to be at our most creative, to push our boundaries and make it a laboratory of ideas. We don’t think about much of anything else. The design is much more organic, there is nothing strategic about it at all – it’s much more emotional.
RT: Considering the beautiful details and embellishments on the pieces we just saw, I can only assume your focus is also on the craft…
ST: Absolutely! Our head is dug into these clothes. We’re in factories all around the world making these – it’s a lot of work and a labor of love. There is no room for strategy in that.