Rebel Yell: How Coach Is Bringing Rebellion Back
While many of this season’s designers were busy playing around with ruffles or focusing much of their energy on social media, Stuart Vevers was preoccupied with creating a truly rebellious and compelling collection.
As the models walked the runway to the rhythms of rock and roll, it was hard to imagine the Coach collection had been designed for Spring/Summer 2017. For starters because the toughness and outward attitude echoed a similar message to Alexander Wang’s runway-inspired rebels of last fall even if Vevers tapped into the DNA of the brand to produce a new and unexpected aesthetic that conveys what it means to be a Coach rebel. “A dreamer, subverting American style with counter-culture influences, faded florals, and mashed-up prairie dresses worn with the ease of a t-shirt,” read the show notes. “Reconfigured with the toughness of biker leather, gangs, and pumped-up rockability moccasins.” In sum, a new breed of rebel but viewed though Vevers’ vision for Coach.
The intention was head on and the idea clear: to present a stark contrast. And in that sense, the decision was successful. The contrast could be easily felt as bulky leather moto jackets with exaggerated fringing paraded next to midi-length sheer dresses and delicate rose print embroidered tops. Inversely, when the jackets felt too harsh, they were offset with the delicacy of subtle and faded florals on silky skirts and dresses – all consistently and tastefully hitting below the knee. There wasn’t a mini in site, yet youthfulness still ran fluidly throughout the assortment.
Vevers identified movements that epitomized what it meant to feel a sense of belonging, tapping into symbolism presented by rebels, beatniks, and an Elvis fan club – all expressed via embellishment that celebrated the individuality of personalization. Think tour merch t-shirts and DIY studded team jackets, and there you have it!
By challenging the traditional conventions of luxury, Vevers was stylishly (and let’s say it, smartly) able to transcend the stigma that Coach was catering to (or focusing on) a more commercial and wholesome woman. By doing so, the designer – somewhat by default but we can safely assume mostly by design – also opened up Coach’s reach to a younger, more fashion savvy crowd who appreciated the raw, elemental hand of eclectic, rebel craft.