24 Minutes with Coach's creative director, Stuart Vevers
A creative mind
In conjunction with its 15th anniversary in China, Coach presented its Pre-Fall 2019 collection in a star-studded runway show Shanghai (read all about it here). Fast forward seven months later, the pieces are now in store, and if you've yet to check them out, here's a reason why you should. Aside from the brand's signature Americana aesthetic, for the first time ever, the brand partnered up with four different creatives in China, namely graphic artist Guang Yu, contemporary ink painter and abstract artist, Zhu Jingyi, sculptor Sui Jianguo, and music collectives Tom and Arthur Bay, also known as Yeti Out. Dubbed the Rexy Remix, each artist gave the brand's oh-so-beloved mascot their own reinterpretation, where one-of-a-kind elements help inject a fresh and modern touch into the American fashion house's signature aesthetic. We had the chance to sit down with Coach's creative director, Stuart Vevers, who gave us more insight into the Pre-Fall 2019 collection and more:
1. You collaborated with four artists for the Rexy Remix capsule collection this season. Tell us more about it.
I'm good friends with Angelica Cheung, and when I came to Shanghai, she held a cocktail event for me in her home and introduced me to the local creatives. I asked her—and the China team—for a lot of advice, and like most people today, I turned to Google a lot when it came to researching and looking for artists whose imagery I like. I've seen Sui Jianguo's work in the art district in Shanghai—he's a renowned sculptor. For the collaboration, I deliberately chose people with very different styles to reinterpret Rexy. When I was in Shanghai and Beijing back in the summer, everyone mentioned Rexy when they talked about Coach. So I knew she has to be featured a lot in this collection.
2. Let's go back to the start. How did the idea for Rexy come about?
It was just one of the randomly wonderful things. We were working on our first show after the first three seasons of presentations and we were researching on graphics. I got a good friend to work on some ideas surrounding dinosaurs, we ended up loving it and included it on a sweater in that collection, and the feedback was great. I had friends calling and texting me saying: "I want that sweater", and we had Zayn Malik, Kate Moss, Julia Roberts, Michael B. Jordan and more spotted wearing it—it just exploded. So many people fell for Rexy, and she's now the mascot for the new Coach.
3. What are some of the highlights from the collection?
One of the very first things we were thinking about was colour. We generally present things in quite an eclectic way—an evening dress can sit next to a cool biker jacket—but this season, we had this idea of a colourwash effect which was very complex in terms of ordering our fabrics and materials. After that, we worked through the rainbow of the colours in a very disciplined way, and I think that gave the show an impact. You could also see great individual pieces as you pull the collection apart.
4. What is your favourite look from the Pre-Fall 2019 collection?
I always say it's look #1 because there's always a reason why I chose that particular look as the first of the show. For the Pre-Fall 2019 runway, we were originally opening with a women's look, but as soon as we put the look on that model, I knew we should open the show with that. I love the vibrant colour.
5. How do you see the importance of a pre-collection to the Coach narrative now?
I think generally a pre-collection is more about the wardrobe. We were very thoughtful of the collection—we wanted to launch an impactful one, but it still has to feel like a wardrobe.
6. You've been exploring the idea of craft. What's your take on it now?
It's all about finding new ways to approach craft. One of the things that I really enjoyed working on in the last few collections was reinventing the things the brand is most known for—our leather, fur, and shearling—super light. The jackets are almost cardigan-like. We incorporated the leather with jersey to have that lightness and softness, and we also used new techniques like perforating the shearling to make it lighter. I think collections are best when things can work over a lot of different seasons. We're a global company and the weather's different all around the world at different times so if things can be multi-season it can be more interesting.
7. You've explored quite a fair bit of Americana in the past few collections. Was that always your vision for Coach, or did it grow organically as you got to know the brand more?
It's interesting—before I even knew I was going to join Coach, I spent five summers in a row travelling around America. My husband and I, unfortunately, can't drive, so as a couple, we did our version of a road trip, which was by train. It's amazing getting off the stops in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes I would get off in the middle of the night to explore that town for a couple of days. I think that's where all the first ideas came from. I'm not American, and I learn about America like most people around the world, which is through the movies. The American gas station, the suburbs, and the subways...they have been references for where we show the collection, but also our campaigns. Coach is a fashion house that's grounded in reality, so I love that our sets have been a junkyard and a gas station—blue collar references that are very real.
8. You've named a few things you like about America. What's your favourite thing about New York?
That's a good question (laughs). The diversity—there's people from all over the world in New York either living there or passing through, and it's truly exciting. The characters of the individuals who you see and meet on a daily basis in the Big Apple is always incredible.
9. Michael B. Jordan was announced as the brand's first ever global men ambassador last year. Why was he selected, and how does he represent the Coach man?
He's very, very nice to my mum (laughs). But in all seriousness, we got to know each other over a period of time. He's been to a few Coach shows, and he's the most charming guy you could ever meet. He's articulate, smart, very authentic; he's got a million-dollar smile, he's handsome, and super talented—I mean, what's not to like? He's a really great guy and it was something that happened organically. We have always talked about working together at some point and it eventually came about.
10. What would you like to ultimately achieve with Coach?
I'm not a big planner, honestly. I think fashion is about living in the moment and looking forward. It's about following your passion and your instincts, and constantly creating from the things that you love. I remember when we first said that we were going to introduce ready-to-wear, a lot of people were uncertain about it. But now we are a reference at New York Fashion Week. It's not only something that's on the runway, it's something that people wear, and this is always something that's very important to me, which is to be believable and authentic.
Coach's Pre-Fall 2019 collection is now in stores.